“I never thought I would sing again, other than in the shower." 30 years after a fleeting brush with superstardom, Chacon breaks the curse of being a one-hit wonder
Eddie Chacon is a wealth of anecdotes; stories spill out of him like hidden riches revealed in a thicket at Griffith Park’s edge. The 56-year-old’s golden voice is a treasure also. But the man, full of friendly deference, downplays himself. Chacon’s trove of charisma is cultivated from his several careers’ worth of creative endeavors—soul-singing star, photographer, creative director of a magazine—that intersect somewhere in his head and heart. His newly minted album Pleasure, Joy and Happiness—comprised of eight syrupy torch songs—marks an artistic transfiguration 35 years in the making.
To understand this passing-comet event, it’s important to understand that this is the same Eddie of the ’90s neo-soul duo Charles & Eddie. Chacon, hailing from California’s Castro Valley, met Charles Pettigrew of Philadelphia on a New York City subway. Soon after, in 1992, their song “Would I Lie to You?” became one of those rare home runs, full of musical hocus-pocus that makes it instantly memorable. The kind of beloved hit that makes the bleak aisles of drugstores bearable. It plunged the duo into global, albeit fleeting, success. The pair split in 1997 and, in 2001, Pettigrew passed away from cancer. A few years later, Chacon would eventually pump the brakes on what had briefly seemed his calling.
Though, while Chacon became absent from mainstream music, he was present elsewhere. In Los Angeles, he began to remodel himself as a more independent creative chameleon: a fashion photographer, the creative director for a Los Angeles-based magazine, and occasional—until this new release—crooner. “When I was young I took enthusiasm for granted. I didn’t know that, as you get older, you have enthusiasm for fewer things. I guess you can say it takes more to get you off. So when I feel enthusiasm for something, I roll with it,” says Chacon after his morning walk through his neighborhood. “I ask myself one thing before I endeavor into anything: ‘Can I add value?’ If I can’t add value, then I have no business being there.”
Just under the surface, the idea of new music was ripening over the years. Pleasure, Joy and Happiness is the fruit of that patience. “I never thought I would sing again, other than in the shower, so, yeah—this whole chapter has got me grinning from ear to ear, really,” Chacon says. The new work is not a facsimile of the Eddie of yore, but nor is it the opposite—a complete zag away from Chacon’s saga. The hazy 28-minute album is a matured, soulful introspection dipped in the transfixing R&B production of John Carroll Kirby, who has conjured sounds for the likes of Frank Ocean and Solange Knowles. “I was so blown away by John Carroll Kirby’s talent that I kind of couldn’t get over my good fortune of getting the opportunity to work with him. In making music, you rarely exceed or even achieve the beautiful vision you have in your head,” says Chacon.
In songs like the album’s lead track, “My Mind Is Out of Its Mind” (the music video for which is directed by Sissy Sainte-Marie, Eddie’s wife), Chacon quarries his hard-earned life lessons for catharsis set to a soothing, windless melody. This is music for driving alone with the windows rolled down and Chacon’s antidote for the pummeling news cycle. “It seemed like the right time to make something very personal. I wanted to create something kind, gentle, and rejuvenating.”