When Jamie Rounds ’73 graduated from Dickinson, he had no idea what to
do next. “I’m just going to get in my car and go somewhere,” the confused
English major told his roommate.
|Jamie Rounds remains a guitar hero.
With a guitar slung over his shoulder and melody on his mind,
Rounds traveled from the heart of country music to the soul of power pop, leaving behind a
legacy with each enchanting tune he recorded.
Rounds’s musical journey began in junior
high, when he and best friend Bill Hunt ’73—now
a Boston-area attorney—formed a band called Great Society. While at Dickinson, Rounds
continued to jam with Al Hershner ’73, Steve Kenety ’74, Chris Knopf ’73,
Dave Newell ’73 and Pete Taft ’73 in a band called Bradley. Over the decades, the
friends often have reunited to play Alumni Weekend.
“I spent four years playing in Carlisle—mostly
at fraternity houses and doing local gigs so that I could fund my extracurricular activities,” Rounds
recalls. “I then
ended up in a band with my older brother at Penn State for 10 years.”
A publishing deal
for his country tunes soon landed Rounds in Nashville, where he stayed for nine years. While
co-writing songs in Nashville, Rounds performed with popular country stars Gillian Welch, David
Rawlings and Steve Earle.
“We’d go to writers’ nights at the local bars. It
was basically a ‘play
your songs for beer and chili’ type of thing. I really enjoyed it.”
in the country-music scene won him the opportunity to produce a song for rock-and-roll veteran
Charlie Gracie, of “Starry Eyes” fame. The rockabilly
hit, “A Little Too Soon To Tell,” covered by Gracie and classic rocker Graham Nash,
appears on Gracie’s most recent album, I’m All Right.
“I’d known Charlie
Gracie for a long time from Philadelphia,” Rounds remembers. “He
was this little Italian South Philly guy. He came to me and said, ‘Jamie, Jamie, I need
some songs!’ I wrote ‘A Little Too Soon To Tell’ in about 15 minutes.”
Rounds started placing music in film and television—such as MTV’s teen soap
opera Live Through This—he moved to the Los Angeles area to join the culture of power
pop, a genre of music inspired by the Beatles and characterized by sharp melodies and strong
guitar riffs. He now plays acoustic guitar with L.A. vocalist Nicole Gordon and is lead guitarist
for the popular ’80s new-wave band John Wicks and the Records.
He’s also produced
his own CD, 10 Great Car Tunes!, an eclectic collection which has sold impressively on Amazon,
CD Baby and Not Lame Records.
“I basically threw every song I ever recorded onto a disc
and called it a CD,” Rounds
explains, laughing. “I didn’t know it was going to get so much attention.”
album includes Rounds’s own recording of “A Little Too Soon To Tell” and “your
basic ‘you broke my heart and left me high and dry’ songs,” the musician
For Rounds, “A Little Too Soon To Tell,” the song for Charlie Gracie,
was one of the easiest on the album to write.
“There’s a difference between writing
a song for someone else and writing your own songs,” Rounds explains. “When I’m
writing for someone else, it’s
almost like a homework assignment, and there’s a specific goal in mind. When I’m
writing for myself, I have to either have something happen to me—like a breakup or to
be missing someone—or I’ll just be doodling on the guitar and something sounds
cool. That’ll be an inspiration to work up a melody, which maybe suggests a lyric. But
a song is the most economical form of emotional expression, and that’s a really daunting
What’s next for Jamie Rounds? Look out for the country ballad, “One
Room at a Time.”
“I’ve been submitting some new tunes to publishers, and
this one’s getting
a lot of attention,” he says. “I think this one will be a hit.”
now, my biggest goal is to get out more tunes that more people will hear,” Rounds
says. “I want to make sure that my music gets heard.”
—Jessica Grinspan ’05
For more info on Jamie Rounds visit http://www.jamierounds.net
View a recent N. Hollywood performance of "Magnet and Steel" with
Walter Egan, Nicole Gordon and JamieRounds ’73