Long before he became the self-proclaimed King of Lemon Law, an antagonist of Gov. Scott Walker and a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Vince Megna got a little taste of success in his first calling — as a professional guitarist.
He became friends with Bobby Hart, a songwriter whose credits include several Monkees’ songs, including “(Theme From) The Monkees”; “Hurts So Bad,” a hit for Little Anthony and others; the theme song for “Days of Our Lives”; and “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight,” which, recorded by Hart and songwriting partner Tommy Boyce, was a hit in 1968.
In the late 1970s, during Megna’s second run at a music career, he played guitar on Hart’s first solo album, recorded in 1978 and released in 1980 in Europe.
Megna also co-wrote a song for the album, “I’m Just Taking the Long Way Home,” but it didn’t make the final cut.
Now, 35 years later, it’s back.
“Bobby called me a couple months ago and said a record label in England wanted to rerelease his solo album on CD,” Megna said. “And he wanted to include a song that I co-wrote with him that never made it on the original.”
“I said, ‘Great!’ I was really happy,” Megna said.
“It didn’t come out that well in the recording, and it didn’t make it onto the album,” he said. “But 20 years later, talking to Bobby, he thought ‘Long Way Home’ stands up the best. He said he thought Michael Bublé should record it.”
The song definitely has a slow, crooner feel. It starts, “Stoned again — feeling like sin,” and goes on to lament a lost love: “It’s not that I’m lost since she’s gone. I’m just taking the long way home.”
It’s slow, over sad piano and lots of strings. One thing that’s missing: Megna’s guitar, though he played guitar on the album.
Megna, 71, recalled writing the song with Hart.
Megna had first gone to Los Angeles after high school in the mid-1960s, hoping to make his mark in music. He said he went to the musicians union and he got a job playing bass with the Walker Brothers, then singer Teddy Randazzo. Hart and Boyce were background singers. Along the way, Megna became friends with Hart, whose career really took off as a songwriter around that time.
To avoid being drafted into the Army in 1967, Megna joined the Navy as a guitarist, but got out in about a year and returned to Milwaukee for college and law school. After a few years in practice, he returned to Los Angeles in 1977 for another stab at music. That’s when he helped Hart record his album.
“I was living at his house in Hollywood at the time.
“We wrote (the song) in his bedroom, where he had a Hammond B3” organ.
Megna’s band, The Attorneys, never really hit it big. He returned to Wisconsin and discovered he enjoyed suing car dealers and manufacturers nearly as much as making music.
But for now, he’s digging his song on the new CD.
“I’m as proud of that song as I am of my $850,000 verdict against Mercedes,” he said.
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This Is Us is a recurring feature in the Green Sheet, with stories on the people, places and things reflecting the spirit and heart of our community.