Troubadour Tom Freund on his inspiration for “Angel Eyes,” an emotive song about the duality — who’s real and who’s not — in the L.A. see-and-be-seen scene, and an ode to the angels, true friends who are always there.
AFLW: What inspired you to write “Angel Eyes?”
Tom Freund: I believe I was doing some journaling, the way I do, and the idea came to me that nothing was near L.A., like, once you leave town there’s a vast space between the next city, desert — should we even be here in the first place? I love L.A., but it also feels like you’re wearing a hair-shirt sometimes. There are highway wanderers and the sun bakes down. I sat at my piano to flesh out the idea. What came to me then was a lot of emotions. This town can eat you up and can spit you out, but also there are these angels here, these friends of mine who never let me get on too thin a branch. They are usually music people, kindred souls. There really is a great congregation of creativity and love here. You might have to work a little harder at finding it, though.
AFLW: You sing, “You gotta know who’s got your back and who’s just pretending.” How do the lyrics speak to you around the idea of love/hate and life in Los Angeles?
TF: There certainly is a love-hate, end-of-the-line thing out here that really resonates with me. People say it’s got a Randy Newman “I Love L.A.” feel. I can hear that, although I was picturing Jackson Browne as well, and David Lindley on lap steel. That’s why I got my friend Ben Peeler to play some beautiful licks under me.
AFLW: Is it a love song to L.A. for you?
TF: It’s more a love song to my angel friends, again mostly musicians, singing for their supper but also singing for their lives and other people’s lives, to lift them up. Also friends who’ve got your back big time and keep an eye on you. We do it for each other; you don’t always get a big pat on the back from the state for doing what we do, so you gotta give it to each other. It was great getting Ben Harper to sing on it because we are the kind of friends who’ve always got each other’s backs, and there’s a real sense of purpose in his tunesmithing.
AFLW: Has the meaning of the song changed for you since you first wrote it?
TF: No, it feels valid and fresh every time I play it. Even when it’s in Switzerland or Japan, people feel what it’s about. We keep searching for the prize but sometimes, the looking and reaching is the best part of life … don’t miss it.
Tom Freund is an L.A.-based singer-songwriter-musician, but he’ll always be a New Yorker at heart. “Angel Eyes” is the lead track off his latest, reflective and resonant album, “Two Moons.” Listen and find him at: www.tomfreund.com.