It must suck to have your music played on “soft rock” radio stations. Well, that’s not exactly what I mean, because getting radio play would, of course, always be a good thing for musicians, so let me rephrase that: It must suck to have your music played on the same soft rock stations that also play Sting and Phil Collins all day long. At least that would bum me out.
Such is the fate of Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts, professionally known as Seals & Crofts and one of the most successful singer-songwriter duos of the 1970s. It seemed like they were constantly on the radio and television when I was a kid, on The Midnight Special, Johnny Cash’s show and on ABC’s In Concert series. Admittedly they weren’t my cup of tea at the time—David Bowie, Alice Cooper, The Kinks and the Sex Pistols were more my style—but I could certainly appreciate their music when I heard it, which was… frequently. If you weren’t around back then, Seals & Crofts were quite a ubiquitous presence on the mainstream American entertainment scene of the early to mind-70s. They were huge, in fact.
These guys were musician’s musicians. Although their primary instruments were guitar and mandolin, they could both play just about anything. Their harmonies were heavenly. Songs like Diamond Girl, Hummingbird, We May Never Pass This Way (Again) and Summer Breeze extolled the virtues of living simply, finding true true love and devotion to God. Despite the fact that they had faces “made for radio” and little traditional showbiz charisma to speak of, it was the musicianship and the message which set their songs apart during their era and what makes their emotionally heartfelt music still so memorable and pleasurable to listen to today. (About 6 years ago, I saw their Greatest Hits CD for $5 bucks used and bought it so I could stick Diamond Girl on a CD I was making for Tara. I confess, it’s either been in the car or in the stack next to the stereo ever since).
In 1980, they basically dropped out of music to follow the Bahá’í Faith full-time (both men have been adherents of the 19th century Persian prophet Bahaullah since 1969). During the height of their success, Seals & Crofts commitment to the faith saw them stay for hours after concerts talking with their fans about their spiritual beliefs and world religious harmony. They’ve recorded and performed very sporadically since retiring. A CD of new recordings was released in 2004 called Traces, made with their children. Crofts lives on a coffee farm in Costa Rica, while Seals lives on a ranch in central Texas.
Strangely, for such a massive -selling “classic rock” act, their albums were not available on CD, save for a greatest hits and one other record, until recently. Even Rhino dropped the ball when it came to Seals & Crofts for many years, although as of 2007 all of their albums have been released on CD.