Eric Jacobsen isn't worried about being accused of jumping aboard the rock-with-a-cause bandwagon with his new single about the four Americans still held hostage in Lebanon. His father, David Jacobsen, is one of those hostages.
Jacobsen's "When the Word Comes (Bring Them Home)," which was written with his brother Paul, is designed to remind people about the hostages' continuing plight. David Jacobsen, former administrator of the American University Hospital in Beirut, has been held captive since May 28, 1985.
"There seems to be a movement in the music industry toward 'cause' records and the public has been responsive to them," Jacobsen, 29, said Thursday at the Costa Mesa office of the medical research firm where he works. "So we thought, 'What the heck, we might as well try.'
"We want airplay. Hopefully, that will draw an emotional, supportive response . . . and keep this issue alive and in front of the American people."
Even though money is not the main motivation behind the record, Jacobsen, a Huntington Beach resident, said any profits will be donated to the Hostage Fund, which is administered by the Washington-based National Organization for Victims' Assistance (NOVA).
Within its two verses and chorus, the song sidesteps the specifics of the Lebanon hostage situation. Instead, it focuses on the ordeal of the hostages' families and their efforts to remain optimistic in the face of one diplomatic frustration after another:
Old news / And no news
The same lines / And the slow times
Are always frightening . . .
Bring them home/Bring them safe and sound.
Eric Jacobsen had hoped to get a well-known singer to record his song, but his demo tape of the tune was brought by a mutual friend to the attention of Mike Curb, the founder of Curb Records.
Curb, the former California lieutenant governor who is running for the office again this year as the Republican candidate, liked what he heard enough to send Jacobsen into the studio to re-record it with the help of producer Michael Lloyd and top session musicians. The single will be released by MCA/Curb Records.
"I couldn't have asked for anything more," Jacobsen said, adding that his only musical experience is several years of playing with "casual, casual" bands. "That meant I didn't have to go to a recording studio by myself and then stand on a street corner and try to sell it."
One of the biggest problems in keeping public attention on the hostage issue is that there has been no contact with the captors or the hostages since they were abducted, he believes.
David Jacobsen is reportedly being held with the Rev. Lawrence Jenco, a Roman Catholic priest; Terry Anderson, an Associated Press correspondent, and Thomas Sutherland, the university's dean of the Agriculture School. A fifth hostage, Peter Kilburn, was one of three people killed in April apparently in retaliation for the U.S. bombing of Libya.
"What makes this different from the Achille Lauro hijacking or some of the other incidents," Jacobsen said, "is that this doesn't have that movie-of-the-week drama of a terrorist pointing a gun at someone's head."
He says the hostages' cause hasn't been helped by sensationalistic movies like the recent "The Delta Force," with Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin as commandos who rescue American hostages from Middle Eastern terrorists.
"I think it does damage because it gives a simplified view of the issue and how to resolve it," he said.
As the first tension-filled days following his father's abduction stretched into weeks and months, Jacobsen said he and relatives of the other captives increasingly sympathized with families of POWs and MIAs.
"We've talked to people who have been searching for missing sons or brothers for 20 years," he said. "It's hard not to get that same feeling. It's a frightening thought that 20 years from now I might be putting out another song. You get more desperate as time goes on."
But adding a note of optimism that punctuates many of his comments, Jacobsen said: "It would be real nice for my father to be released next week and have this be a celebration record."
LIVE ACTION: Tickets go on sale Monday for Stevie Wonder's Forum concert June 27. . . . The Pogues make their L.A. debut July 14 at the Palace. . . . Tickets will be available Sunday for three Universal Amphitheatre shows: America July 27, Juice Newton July 30 and Charlie Daniels Aug. 1. . . . Tickets go on sale Monday for a second Julio Iglesias concert Sept. 28 at the Pacific Amphitheatre, for Robert Palmer's July 27 show, and for the Monkees' Sept. 4 date. Also due at the Pacific is PiL on July 7, in a new scaled-down, 3,000-seat format. . . . The Grateful Dead play the Ventura County Fairgrounds July 12-13. . . . The Meat Puppets headline the Roxy June 15.