The HG&B Story


People have recently asked me, "Where did you get the idea for 'The Heartbreak Grill And Bar? Does such a place really exist?"  The answer, surprisingly, is Yes

The date was June 10, 1990.  Or maybe it was February 22, 1991.  In any case, it was many moons ago.  I was living in L.A., struggling to make ends meet, playing acoustic gigs for free hamburgers in the Valley.  A good buddy of mine, John, was an L.A. model and actor, with ruggedly handsome looks and that razor-stubble semi-beard that was so mysteriously popular at the time.  We were both broke, so on Saturday nights we'd hang out at his apartment, drink cheap beer, and listen to Aerosmith.  We'd then go out to various clubs in Hollywood with a full buzz on, hoping to be "discovered", or at least hoping to score. 

John would always attract every kind of woman, wherever we'd go... but he was incredibly picky, and would reject most of the women that were interested in him.  So I'd usually go after his rejects, which would have worked out well if they weren't so P.O.'d that he rejected them.  Sometimes, just to keep them from leaving, I'd say stuff like "He really DOES like you, he's just a bit shy", as he was flirting shamelessly with some other girl.   My hope was that if I kept them around long enough, after a few drinks they'd forget which one of us was the handsome model/actor.   Unfortunately for me, that rarely happened... but hey it was fun trying! 


One night we walked into this bar in west Hollywood, a small place tucked out of the way, off the beaten path.  I was amazed that almost every woman in the place was gorgeous... and I don't mean "cute girl next-door" type of pretty, I mean "intimidating supermodel kinda mean-looking" pretty.  As John and I saddled up to the bar, I noticed this one hot brunette began looking over at me.  She didn't have the same mean, hardened-by-L.A. look that alot of the women there had.  No, there was something softer and alluring about her that I really liked.  I confidently ordered a club soda for $1.25, hoping that she'd think I was drinking $7 vodka tonics.  Things were pricey in L.A., even back then. 

After about 10 minutes of playing the eye-contact game, I decided to waltz on over and hit on the brunette.  But before I could even utter my first cheezy line, she says to me "I was looking at your friend".  Stunned, I go "Excuse Me?", so she clarifies: "I wasn't looking at you, I was looking at your friend, he's really cute... do you think you could introduce me?"  I sullenly walked back over to where John was talking up not one but three ladies.  I mumbled something to him  about this woman across the bar wanting to meet him.  He looked over at her and flippantly said to me "Not interested".   She wasn't up to his exacting standards. 

For some reason, maybe it was revenge, spite, or perhaps a death wish, I walked back over to her and stated plainly "He says he's not interested in meeting you."  Whoosh, just like that, the remainder of her watered-down $7 drink splashed across my face, after which she quickly bolted from the bar.  As I stood there stupidly, liquid dripping off my lips and face, I thought to myself "Mmmm, vodka tonic". 

That's when I first got the idea of "The Heartbreak Grill And Bar", a place filled with beautiful but evil women who will break your heart as effortlessly as they apply their lipstick.  But it wasn't until 5 years later, when I was living in Dallas, that I began putting the actual song together.  I came up with a country beat and melody, finished most of the lyrics, but still didn't have a title.  I was toying with "Heartbreak A La Carte" as the title - a place where you could pretty much pick what type of heartbreak you wanted.  I did a full demo of the tune, but still wasn't satisfied with it.  As I often do with my songs, I set it aside for years, only to discover it later when I was desperate for song material and ideas.

As I was writing songs for the 3rd album last year, I sent the lyrics to my good friend Della, a former heartbreaker herself before she settled down, to see what she thought.  She responded "How attached are you to the title 'Heartbreak A La Carte'?, which means basically the title didn't cut it.  Since I'd written all the lyrics and she liked most of them, I looked in the rhyming dictionary to see what rhymed with the words in the chorus - charge/heart/start - and of course "bar" was right there.  I added the concept of the "grill", that the way the women treat the guys is like being put on a grill, and Voila, the song was finished. 

As for John, I'm not sure whatever became of him.  I'm guessing he eventually tired of L.A., married, moved to Iowa and had 2.5 kids.  I Googled his name today and came up completely empty, so I guess he never did make it as an actor/model.  Either that or maybe he got a contract put out on him by one of his many "rejects".





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                     John and Mike were actually fraternity brothers at West Virginia University, before they moved out to L.A. at separate times

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