Cliff Eberhardt

The Long Road

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Cliff Eberhardt was one of those singer/songwriters who took a long time to make a formal album (one of the copyrights here was 1974), and you could hear the years, the miles, and the struggle in his songs. "White Lightning" commented on the need of the singer to escape a provincial existence; "My Father's Shoes" dealt with separation from family; and the title song (a duet with strong influence Richie Havens) reflected on the length of the journey. For the most part, however, Eberhardt was concerned with romance, usually with a sense of idealized commitment in songs whose titles sometimes told the story: "Always Want to Feel Like This," "(Just To) Walk Down the Street With You." Singing in a gruff, earnest tenor, he always seemed to have come through a long period of difficulties to this one, perfect love, even if, as in the beautiful "Your Face," he was still writing from a distance. In his solo concerts, Eberhardt could seem even more impassioned; on record, with a backing band to blend into, his mannerisms were less pronounced (and one got less of a sense of his impressive guitar playing); he recalled Bruce Springsteen (especially in the Darkness on the Edge of Town cadences of "Right Now" and the small-town reminiscences of "White Lightning") more than Ray Charles. "If you let your passion loose," he sang in "White Lightning," "you would run like fire." But passion remained his ruling emotion.

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