Bad Company: Ackles and Carlson Nashville Jam
The first (and hopefully not the last) Jensen Ackles and Steve Carlson jam session was a highlight of the Nashville con, for the chance to hear the way the two harmonize live, and to feel a bit like you’re sitting around their living room listening to their banter. Jensen was less nervous than he was playing with Jason a few months ago, though fans definitely didn’t mind his first time jitters that time anyway.
Steve shared the backstory to how the two friends ended up playing together, and even doing some recording. Whenever they were both in town they’d get together at Steve’s house and the guitars would come out. Apparently wherever Steve is living, something gets turned into a makeshift studio – when Jensen and Steve lived together, it was the hall closet, wired up and soundproofed with foam, and probably looking very …. Interesting. In Steve’s place before that, it was the garden shed, similarly outfitted but alas, sans air conditioning. Steve would lure friends out to record there and they’d emerge sweat-soaked and bedraggled, asking plaintively, “was that okay?”
Backstory established, they kicked off the jam session with a fan favorite, “Wasted Jamie”.
“Why didn’t you all sing along?” Jensen asked incredulously afterwards. Pretty sure Steve gave him a look like, really, I think maybe they’re not here to listen to each other sing. Pretty sure Steve was right.
Before they started the next song, Steve told us that he and Jensen had actually never played it together. They were hanging out a few days ago doing a bit of preparation for this jam session (with a few more beers than were currently on the table between them….) and thought, why not do this one?
After some disputes about who needed to see the ipad on the table between them with the lyrics, they played a beautiful rendition of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, full of emotion.
Jensen was playing Jason’s guitar (which Jason carefully watched over from the back of the room), and mentioned how much he’d learned from watching his musician friends play, sometimes wishing he had binoculars to watch their hands. Steve laughed that all musicians do that, and that he and Jensen weren’t so different.
They then played the very first song Jensen learned to play, “If I Had a Million”, after alluding to a backstory that Jensen insists nobody knows but him and Steve and apparently nobody ever will.
When Jensen and Steve had a house together, Jensen picked up a guitar one day and started playing it. Steve ended up playing mandolin and they actually recorded it, though the recording will remain safely hidden away, alas. Apparently their shared house was quite the creative eclectic place, cameras and film stuff everywhere for Jensen and guitars and music stuff everywhere for Steve, a Hitchcock book on the coffee table next to a Beatles book.
Steve: (accusingly) You spilled wax all over that.
Jensen: (eyeroll) I know. I’ll owe you forever.
The first song Steve and Jensen actually wrote together was “Love You Or Leave You”, which they played next. Steve commented that he loved the lyrics that Jensen wrote for it.
Jensen: Umm….we haven’t played it in so long, I’m not sure I remember them.
He asked the fans to excuse the mistakes. And then didn’t make any.
Jensen also apologized for playing a few repeats from his jam session with Jason, until Steve reminded him that’s exactly what musicians do!
Next Jensen introduced one of his favorite songs, one that’s very therapeutic for him, and said he loves the lyrics. He belted out “Rock ‘n Roll Radio” with so much feeling, we were all pretty much rapt. Seems he’s as good at conveying emotion when he’s singing as when he’s acting.
Next up was the song that Jensen says is possibly his all time favorite, “Pinata Novia”.
Jensen: When Steve and I met and I heard his music, I just fell in love with it.
The next song was one that Steve heard and was very moved by. So moved that he texted his five best friends who are music lovers, one of them Jensen. At first, Jensen wasn’t that into it, felt he wasn’t in “the right headspace” and working too much on the show, but when he did listen a few months later, one night while he was cleaning up in his apartment after a long day, he suddenly got it. He immediately said I’ve gotta learn to play that, and listened to the one song the entire 2.5 hour flight back to LA that weekend.
Steve: Told ya so! When he didn’t respond right away I was like, ohmygosh, are you really that busy?
Jensen: I just had to find it on my own time….and ohmygod, I don’t even wanna play this song anymore, after this big build-up. Can we just play it?
“Colder Weather” was definitely not a disappointment.
The next song was one of our favorites. Jensen told us that the crew had asked (demanded?) that the cast and crew band, creatively called the Impalas, play a specific song – one that was perfect for the show. So they finally agreed, Steve figured out the guitar, and the song came together. We couldn’t help but imagine Dean as soon as Jensen sang “I was born, six gun in my hand….” Bad Company indeed. In a very good way.
The last song they saved until last for a reason – it was the first song they ever played together. Steve was working on it one day and Jensen came over and started singing harmony. So Steve threw him in the woodshed (aka studio) and that’s how they recorded “Come Around More Alabama”.
Steve: He thought he was coming over for a beer, and I threw him in the woodshed and put him to work! And now that’s one of the most requested songs on itunes, because of Mr Ackles’ popularity.
Jensen (interrupts): And your genius writing skills.
Their rendition of the song was incredible, the harmonies spot on, everyone in the room pretty much riveted. Afterwards, Jensen gave a heartfelt thank you to the fans for their donations (proceeds in part going to charity).
Jensen: It’s humbling and gratifying to be around people who are so supportive. You guys are awesome.
As he and Steve got up to head out, Jensen stopped once again, and sounding a little choked up, shook his head and said, “Best fans in the world.”
We couldn’t agree more, but it goes both ways. Right back at ya, guys.
More of our chats with Brian Buckley, Matt Cohen, Richard Speight Jr. and Chad Lindberg from Nash-Vegas soon!