Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Eagles

Sometime in the summer of 1972 Mark Booth took me up to a small record shop that no longer exist just north of the campus of the University of Kansas.  In that shop he pulled out an album and said, you've got to buy it.  It was one of two records he recommended.  One was the Doobie Brothers debut disc, the second, The Eagles.

Both albums were great, the Doobie Brothers certainly went on to become one of the seminal bands of the 70's, but The Eagles went above and beyond that.  Their debut album was the definitive example of what was the Southern California sound.  "Take It Easy" and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" are simply two of my all-time favorite country-rock songs.  Their second album "Desparado" and third "On the Border" were discs that I also purchased, but by 1974 I was moving more heavily into my love of Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead.  Neil Young was already a staple in my music collection.

By the time "Hotel California" came along I simply saw The Eagles as this huge commercial success and got tired of hearing the songs from that album pouring out over the radio non-stop.  I stopped paying attention.  I didn't care that they broke up.  I thought Glenn Frey and Don Henley had decent solo careers.  I was into other things musically.

My wife begged me to take her to see The Eagles in 2000 when we lived in Fargo.  Incidentally, "Hotel California" is the Czarina's favorite American pop song.  The show was great, it brought back a lot of memories.  It was great seeing Don Felder and Joe Walsh duel their way through "Hotel California" and they are as polished a band you could ever hope to hear, but it really didn't make much of an impact.

That was until this week when I watched the documentary currently playing on Showtime called "The History of The Eagles."  It's simply one of the best music documentaries I've ever seen.  The boys let it all hang out, the good, the bad and the ugly.  It's an amazing musical history lesson.

It was amazing to hear the role big acts like Bob Seeger and Kenny Rogers played in the early careers of Glenn Frey and Don Henley.  The documentary also confirmed that Glenn Frey and Don Henley are major league a-holes, which they pretty much admit during the course of this great piece of history.  Joe Walsh, as one would expect, steals the show.  He's one of the best interviews out there.   The only thing he really failed to touch on was Don Felder's ouster from the band over how the money was to be split once The Eagles decided to become a major touring act again.

Everyone is in this thing, from Linda Ronstadt to Jackson Browne and lessor known musical luminaries such as J.D. Souther.  The story made me realize that despite my snobbish outlook on The Eagles, they are the seminal American rock and roll band.  They took elements of The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, even The Beach Boys and smaller slices of less bands like Poco to create quite probably the slickest sound to ever come out of a recording studio.

The documentary reminded me why I loved The Eagles in the first place.  It shows that it takes ruthless ambition to be the best in the music business.  "The History of The Eagles" is a great way to spend two hours plus.


  1. Indeed the Eagles are quintessential Americali musique. Interesting how Henley has played the nostalgia chord for 30 years now since the era of "the Boys of Summer"; which I find to be a very sharp piece of Pop "Art" (including the cool video) ... but I guess I'm revealing my own essential banality there. I was at an Hotel California tour concert in 1976 (or 77 ? can't remember) at Kemper Arena in KC. Like another geological age. Kind regards, Mason ... PS I admit Joe Walsh disappointed me recently, he seems to be repenting or something. HIs phrase : "They say I'm lazy, but it takes all my time" was always my personal favourite.