When it comes to songwriting, we all know Eddie Rabbitt’s longtime partner, Even Stevens. However, his real name is Bruce Stevens and he served as a radio operator for the Coast Guard prior to his life in the music industry. Many of his correspondence gave him the rhyming nickname “Even,” hence, Even Steven.
Even Stevens’ story is a classic songwriter’s tale. He went to Nashville on the advice of an uncle who played drums in a hole-in-the-wall bar on lower Broadway. On the first night that he was in town, he went to hear his relative play. After the last set, he played one of his compositions on a guitar that was laying around. Webb Pierce happened into the bar and heard Stevens singing “Fair Weather Friends.” Pierce offered him a writer’s contract with his company, Cedarwood Publishing, and Stevens was in town to stay. He lived in a former mail truck that had been converted for civilian use for a year. When he met Rabbitt, Stevens moved into one side of a duplex while Eddie lived on the other side. They wrote songs together frequently, sometimes up to eighteen hours a day.
Stevens remained Rabbitt’s primary collaborator after he emerged on Electra Records. “I Just Want To Love You” is an example of songs that were written at the last minute during the recording sessions. Rabbitt and the other session personnel went into the studio and began working on the song with only about half a verse and half a chorus. Eddie and Even had written just fifteen minutes earlier in an adjoining office while waiting for the official 6:00 PM start time for the session. They excitedly emerged from the office with the partial song and laid it out for the musicians, telling them,
“We don’t have this song completely written, but it goes something like this.”
The song turned out to be a composite of three other songs which Rabbitt and Stevens had developed earlier. Parts of each song were good, others were not. The men took the good parts and wrote a mid-section chorus on the spot and blended them together, using the verses and bridges from these other ideas they had, and “I Just Want To Love You” somehow fell into place. A risky way to conduct a session if you ask me, but it worked. The finished product became Eddie Rabbitt’s third of his seventeen No. 1 hits on December 2, 1978.
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