Come Back America
All proceeds from 'Come Back America' support The Jeff Shaffer Foundation, helping teens to overcome substance abuse and lead healthy, happy and hopeful lives. Born into a musical family in Indiana, music has always run through Nathan Shaffer's veins. But, after a couple of dream-come-true record deals, he tried, for a couple of decades, to silence the urge to write and perform. That was, until now. At an early age, Nathan learned that like his parents who performed in church groups, he possessed a rich, appealing vocal range. Then, receiving a classic Gibson semi-hollow body acoustic guitar from an aunt, easily taught himself to play, starting with, much to his parents' chagrin, the Muddy Waters' classic, "I'm a Man". It was the night the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan however, that in a frenzy of electric guitars, a 4/4 time signature, lyrical hooks, and screaming girls, the rock and roll light switched on. The music in Shaffer's pulse began to race, The Beatles wrote sang and performed songs that resonated in every cell in his body, and once and for all, he veered from the hymns of his parents and was sold on rock and roll. "The Beatles changed everything - it was like a way of life," recalls Shaffer. "It was 1963, I was 13, I watched them perform and thought - 'I could do that'. I went 'wow' and basically lost my mind in every sense. I taught myself to play "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", and that song had minor chords, harmonies, key changes and a bridge. It was something completely different." By high school, the shy kid from Terra Haute had moved to the suburbs of Chicago and was fronting cover bands. All the while though, Shaffer really wanted to perform his own material. Soon he joined a group that afforded him the opportunity to focus on playing original songs. A year from the day that he joined the band, they secured a record deal with Capitol/EMI Records, the same label the Beatles had originally been on. From the time he was a child, Shaffer had set his sights on California and after repeatedly touring the West Coast, in 1981 decided to leave the band and make the move. Settled in Los Angeles, Shaffer formed a harder hitting ensemble called Rock Royale and based on a $2000 live demo, inked a deal with Atlantic Records before playing a single show. After a protracted, over budget effort at recording their album with famed producer, Roy Thomas Baker however, the label decided that they liked the demo more but dropped the band because of disputes over it's formidable investment in the album. "I wanted Roy Thomas Baker because we had three good singers in the band and he had worked with Queen. I loved what he did with 'Bohemian' Rhapsody and also with Journey and Foreigner but Atlantic was angry at the $300.000 price tag and shelved our project." Although Shaffer had shown tremendous promise, the let down was too much and before the age of 30, bitter from his experience within the industry, retired from music -- his birthright and passion. Instead he got a job, worked hard, did well, and as a single dad, raised his son Jeff, truly his pride and joy. "At times I would think about getting back into music and then say no I'm not going to go through this again. I wanted to make a good life for my son. I grew up poor and after working in telemarketing for 10 years, got really good at it and opened my own company and was able to take care of my son." Then some thing happened. Twenty-five years after the Rock Royale deal crashed and burned, Shaffer leaned back in his seat at a Paul McCartney concert and suddenly, the light switched back on. The urge to sing and write surged once again through him, melodies began to materialize and encouraged by his son, Shaffer knew it was time. "It all came back pretty fast; I had some things in my mind - songs that were incomplete and then I wrote a batch of new ones. 'Come Back America' was the first - I wrote it in the beginning of 2009; I was feeling fed up with what I saw going on in our country. Then I worked on the song 'L.A. Chop Shop'. That turned out really well and kind of got me going I actually had one song that I had written in 1982 called 'My Little Friend' about my son. It was the only one that was complete when I started the project and it turned out great. We used musicians from the L.A. Philharmonic on it and recorded at Capitol Studios." Then tragedy struck. Shaffer's son Jeff, who had long battled drug addiction, died of an overdose. The devastation was paralyzing but, in the months that followed, music and the vow to finish the album became Nathan's lifeline. He would continue on in his son's name. "'Come Back America' represents who I am," says Shaffer. "I've got songs on there that are about me looking back on my life and, growing up. I've got songs about my son. I got a couple of love songs and I got some political songs on there - it's kind of who I am, just a normal American, y'know."