Eagles

From my understanding, it’s just “Eagles”, not “The Eagles”. Remember how in the 80s, the woman in charge of the LEGO Company put little messages in every box, asking consumers to say “LEGO bricks and toys” instead of “LEGOs”? Yeah. Good luck.

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I fudged a bit on panel 3; if I’d actually had the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, I would have known the title wasn’t “Lion Eyes”. I heard it on the radio, just like “Witchy Woman”, “Hotel California”, “Desperado”, and all the other Eagles tunes I can’t stand.

We talk a lot of shit about the Eagles, because truthfully, they’re an American institution. They nursed our country through quaalude withdrawal. Someday science will reveal healing properties within songs like “Tequila Sunrise”, subliminal harmonies that soothe hangovers and nullify negative impulses. Any opinion I have of the Eagles is pretty much irrelevant.

Glenn Frey, co-lead singer, passed away earlier this year, effectively closing the book on the Eagles. Frey was a great sport. Mojo Nixon had a single called “Don Henley Must Die”, which both Frey and Henley thought was a larf. Frey brought a crisp edge to the vocal harmony; I always forget about “Heartache Tonight”, which has the same kind of snap as Billy Joel’s “Still Rock ‘N Roll To Me”. Seriously; when a band becomes this popular, you totally lose sight of the reasons why.

I can’t put any part of that down. I probably listen to “One Of These Nights” about every other day. Don Henley’s vocals are heavenly. That classic rolling bass is Randy Meisner, and the precision guitar is Don Felder. Frey provided the gleaming ribbons of back-up harmony, also on guitar. I have no clue how they recorded the falsetto chorus so astutely.

“We cut the basic track in Miami in December at Criteria Studios. We took it to L.A., put all the drone guitars and Felder’s solo on in L.A., and went back to Miami to put the vocals on in March.”   -Glenn Frey, 1975

Yeah. Any time I start to hate on the Eagles, I remember that song. Bands don’t generally cover that because it’s too hard to get right. That’s why the goddamn ticket prices were so insane- these were the only cats that could perform these songs. That’s why no one gives a shit about “Peaceful Easy Feeling”. Everyone learned how to play it.

Randy Meisner does the lead vocal on “Take It To The Limit”, including the high notes at the outro. The tangible sincerity of Meisner’s voice comes from his lack of confidence; in live shows, he became so nervous about hitting those notes, a fight with Frey resulted. This was Randy’s big number, which he raised from a solo composition, and the crowds went berserk went he sang it. Finally Meisner found himself frozen out of the Eagles, after suffering ulcers due to relentless touring, and officially left the band in 1977. Frey sang it for the revival tours.

Listen to the line about how you “can’t find the door”. That’s easily the saddest lyric from a 70s AOR tune, ever. Insecurity, malaise, and ultimately, deferment to increasing anxiety. 1975.

Kinda like a slow dance at the end of all things, no?

There are lots of shitty Eagles songs. Every musical act that becomes world-famous ends up sucking. While the band is drowning in money, the record label convinces them to sound more “universal”, to appeal to all nations of the globe (and make more money). Everything idiosyncratic is watered down or stripped away, to widen appeal. “Taking on the world” means pandering to the world’s lowest common denominator.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cab scene from The Big Lebowski. It’s a perfect demonstration of the strong emotions that the Eagles engender in listeners.

Regardless, Eagles gave us Joe Walsh, too, and you know how important that guy is.

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