It was the title song of Happy Hour that first served to introduce me to Ted Hawkins' voice. It reminds me of my childhood when, fooled by all those major chords (Hawkins used major chords exclusively which, despite frequent lyrical heartbreak, lend his songs an upbeat feel) I really did think that it was just about having a good time. Seeking out this song and listening for the first time as an adult, the emotional punch packed a big double-whammy. Here are some of the lyrics:
"Welcome to happy hour
Blinking on the neon sign
She won't mind if I stop for just one
I could still make it home in time
As my eyes grow accustomed to the smoke and dim light
I see the jukebox near the door
There she is in another man's arms
Slow dancing across the floor
So this is happy hour
Two drinks for the price of one
People laughing and having fun
What a great place to be
Welcome to happy hour
They gather here every day
Cheating is one of the games they play
This time it's on me"
Buy Happy Hour
It was in 1994 that Hawkins' major label debut The Next Hundred Years was released on Geffen, and this is when he finally began to receive some attention in the US, and toured extensively. By a cruel twist of fate, he died within a year of its release, suffering a diabetes-related stroke on December 29th 1994 and passing away on New Year's Day 1995. He was survived by his (third) wife of almost thirty years, Elizabeth, and their five children - Elizabeth, Tina, Carmen, Adrienne and Theodore.
Jimmy Guterman has this to say:
"Without a doubt, 1994 was the happiest, most successful, most satisfying year of Ted's life. His unexpected death from a stroke on New Year's Day 1995 was cruel and tragic, but he passed on knowing that his music had finally connected, he passed on having been loved and accepted for the most constant thing in his life: his music"
Buy The Next Hundred Years
Less than two months before his death aged only 58, the whole show of Ted's performance of November 5th 1994 at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica was recorded, and was ultimately released as The Final Tour. This would be a great place to start with his music if he's new to you, and the songs arguably sound better than the studio-recorded versions...Hawkins was, after all, first and foremost a live and acoustic artist. Here, his astounding cover of the Webb Pierce standard There Stands the Glass starts the show, with a wailing opening note and absolutely pitch perfect delivery. His a capella cover of John Fogerty's Long As I Can See the Light is spine-chillingly beautiful. The emotion in his voice is heartbreaking...and heart-warming right at the same time. He sounds truly at home.
Buy The Final Tour
Ted Hawkins was an incredible natural talent who did not receive the limelight he was due, and he should not be forgotten...he is not talked about nearly enough!
Other noteworthy songs (a selection from many):
All I Have To Offer You Is Me, I Got What I Wanted, Bad Dog, Revenge of Scorpio, Missin' Mississippi, Green-Eyed Girl, Long As I Can See the Light (John Fogerty/Creedence Clearwater Revival cover), Groovy Little Things, Green-Eyed Girl, Afraid, Cold and Bitter Tears, Strange Conversation, I Got What I Wanted.
TED HAWKINS (1936-1995)