SANTA MONICA, CA – When asked recently to share the secrets of his monumental songwriting success in the 1970’s, aging icon Cliff Burtensdale squinted his wrinkled leathery eyes for a moment, exhaled a foul smoky breath and said, “It’s something you either have inside you, burning and bubblin’ to get out like a bad plate of calamari.. or you don’t. And I guess I had it, and then I blew it out all over the place for a few good years there, if you know what I mean. Heh, honestly”, he added in a raspy whisper, “I was so inebriated and high for the better part of that decade I can’t remember more than about 10 minutes of it. But I can tell you, it was the best 10 minutes of my life, man! Remind me to tell you about the time I toured with Linda Ronstadt! Whoooooeeee!”
The writer of such universally known, oft-covered classics as “Hoochie Coochie Lovin’ Mama”, “One More Time (In Your Van)” and “Toke It, Smoke It and Poke It” had little actual songwriting advice to share, offering a tidbit of inspiration instead. “Listen man,” he said, pausing to puff a Pall Mall cigarette and blow a lopsided smoke ring, “if anyone tells you that you can’t make it as a songwriter, you just say my name – Cliff Burtensdale baby! Cliff Burtensdale! Now.. I hate to be a buzzkill, but I really gotta get back to work. Frickin’ Derek called in sick again and we’re shorthanded at the drive-through.” And with a grinding twist on a half-smoked butt, he situated his visor, pulled open the glass door with the twin yellow arches on it, and tottered inside.