Artificial system

Legendary Eagles songwriter Jack Tempchin uses artificial intelligence to spice up Halloween

Time doesn’t stand still for Jack Tempchin.

Half a century ago, the San Diego singer-songwriter sat in a local Der Wienerschnitzel, finishing the lyrics to ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling,’ a poignant and sweet love song made famous by the Eagles. .

Today, he’s promoting a Halloween-themed music video he produced, in part, with the help of a robot. Or artificial intelligence, to be more precise. “Ghost Car” airs on YouTube, competing with millions of other bids for attention.

Tempchin, now 75, used AI to generate the video, the story of a hitchhiker who takes a chilling ride through the cosmos with James Dean at the wheel and Marilyn Monroe at the shotgun.

He wrote the song and the lyrics. Then his son, Robert, fed the lyrics into AI software, made some edits, and produced smooth visuals ranging from Dean’s head turning into a skeleton to the night sky shattering into pieces just about where was the moon.

There are also plenty of Halloween symbols, from plump pumpkins to cobwebs to menacing bats.

“I love Halloween because it’s all about imagination and fun, and it’s so universal,” said Tempchin, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019. “With Thanksgiving , it’s my favorite party.”

Music videos are nothing new. Neither does the AI. But the use of different versions of this type of software to create songs, lyrics and videos is only beginning to become widespread in the music industry.

And it’s not just in the hands of professionals. Comparative novices use virtual composition software like AIVA to create new music, some of which is mixed into content that is posted on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

AI is a complex world filled with jargon that can be difficult to grasp. Simply put, the artificial intelligence tools used by Tempchin’s son are programmed to match words and lines of text – in this case, lyrics – with countless images on the internet. Algorithms convert this material into new images that can be modified by artists.

“We were using it to paint pictures,” says Tempchin, who lives in Encinitas.

Robert says the process is a bit like asking a human artist to sit down and look at 500 images of a dog and then come up with their own depiction. The result is something new.

It represents new opportunities in what has been a very long and successful career.

In the late 1960s, Tempchin wrote “Peaceful, Easy Feeling”, which he showed to his friend, Glenn Frey of the Eagles. The band recorded the song, which became a smash hit. The song turns 50 on December 1.

Tempchin also co-wrote “Already Gone” for the Eagles, and several other songs. And he co-wrote the hits “You Belong to the City” and “Smuggler’s Blues” with Frey when Frey was a solo artist. Tempchin also wrote “Swayin’ to the Music (Slow Dancin’)”, which became a hit for Johnny Rivers when he covered the song.

His life as a singer and songwriter remained busy until the pandemic when, like others, he retreated to safer spaces, where he spent some of his time improving his writing skills. ‘registration. Part of that involved AI – an emerging technology that has raised provocative questions, particularly about whether AI is merely a tool or, in a sense, a distinct independent artist.

“I guess it’s both,” Tempchin said. “You can use it as a tool. But, as Arthur C. Clarke said, when a technology seems impossible, it might as well be magic, right?

As to whether AI can possess the soul that humans have, Tempchin said, “It can create things that have a soul. But he can’t enjoy what he’s doing. It’s like a guitar, which can be used to create a soul that moves you. But you have to play it. The guitar itself cannot appreciate what it does.

He is upset by what has happened and what will happen.

“Before there was the kind of AI software to do what my son just did (with ‘Ghost Car’), you had to have a team go out and shoot some footage and then stitch the footage together and put them together with the song, and use your own ideas.

“Now overnight you can put lyrics to any song (in AI) and it will make a video. It’s mind blowing. It’s the edge of change that humanity is on. We don’t we can’t stop it.

This does not mean that the past is over. Several days a week, you can find him standing by the cliff at the Swami’s surf break in Encinitas, where he composes and records songs on the spot as the surfers pass by. It all ends up on Jack’s Beach Jams, a site on YouTube.

“I don’t re-do or edit the songs,” Tempchin said. “I just put them in place. That’s how I have fun. »