By 1976 John Stewart had been dropped from three record companies and had been without a recording contract for over a year—a lifetime in the music industry. With things looking bleak he decided to throw caution to the wind and make a direct appeal to his fans. RSO Records Vice President, Al Coury, was considering signing Stewart but remained on the fence. Stewart asked fans at his current Palomino Club playdates to send a note to Coury asking him to sign Stewart. The ploy worked. In a short amount of time Coury received almost 500 cards and letters in appreciation of John’s talent. Since RSO received little mail at its new Sunset Boulevard offices (and for an artist that wasn’t even on its roster) it was enough to motivate Coury.
Producer Mentor Williams (brother of singer/songwriter Paul Williams) was hired to produce John’s RSO album in Nashville. But from the beginning there was friction between John and Mentor. John, who had been in the music industry for almost two decades at the time, didn’t like being told how to play and sing by Mentor who was unrelenting in his methods. The two continued to butt heads. Finally, John had enough, grabbed the tapes ending the Nashville sessions (which were not completed), and returned to Los Angeles. He pleaded his case to Coury, who gave him just $8,000 to complete the album which would be appropriately titled, “Fire in the Wind.”
With limited money to complete the album but now at last in charge of his domain, John Stewart had to produce results under challenging circumstances. With little money to “sweeten” the album he couldn’t afford additional re-recordings or even instrumental tracks. The lush orchestrations on his previous RCA album were definitely off the plate, even if he wanted them. But the stripped down nature of the production and John’s knowing this might be his last album resulted in deeply personal and unusual song topics. Although he had written and sung about romantic relationships in the past, on “The Wild Side of You,” John addressed the all-consuming addiction of destructive attractions to a driving rock beat. While Stewart as narrator mostly speaks to his fear of the uninhibited nature of his partner, he is more afraid of himself for letting his guard down in pursuit of something that may have consequences beyond his control. I do not know if John had any personal connection to the song while creating my visual motif for the music video, but he would have obviously seen many of the films produced during the 1940s and 50s from which I have drawn clips of femmes fatales and may have been inspired, if not by these films, some of their source novels. To view “The Wild Side of You” click https://youtu.be/JUTl4NtNW08