Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Semi-Obscure Eagles"
Yes, the Eagles are now on Spotify, or as Don Henley prefers it to be said...Eagles are now on Spotify, which puts them ahead of the Beatles and AC/DC and everybody else who believes they can hold back the future, who is angry at Spotify while all their tracks are being streamed on YouTube. And in honor of their appearance, I'm going to highlight some semi-obscure tracks. Then again, there are really no obscure Eagles tracks, since there were so few albums and they were all of such high quality. However, classic rock radio doesn't go deep, and if you were not alive in the seventies and never bought the albums, here's some stuff you might have missed, which you should know.
Written by Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, two people who haven't been there for the long run, we didn't know back then, when the initial album was released, that it was Glenn and Don's band, we heard the single, bought the album and played it, unlike today, when even if you buy the LP, it's still all about the track.
What makes the track is the picking, the banjo, the country element Bernie brought to the band. Still, there's some grit, the guitar that enters about a minute into the track. And let's not forget the harmonies, Crosby, Stills & Nash pioneered this sound, but the Eagles could do it live, not that we knew it at this point...
This is the album experience. I've never heard "Earlybird" on the radio, but in my college dorm room, it was a staple. Yes, there were Top Forty charts, but most everybody was listening to FM and albums, where the non-hit tracks had just as much impact.
The album closer, written and sung by Randy Meisner.
Usually bands put the ponderous track at the end, but this was as if the band had performed its set and was gonna do a runner, get in the bus and hightail it to a better place, with some wine and women to go along with the song.
The track is good, the vocal is good, the solo is good, but the magic is...at the two minute mark, when almost all the instruments drop out and they sing about keepin' on tryin'. And if you don't think that's life, you haven't lived it.
CERTAIN KIND OF FOOL
Another Randy track, cowritten with Don and Glenn. If this doesn't get you, doesn't bring you right back to the westerns of your youth, you're a city kid without dreams.
Yes, even at this late date the west is a dream, because of the wide open spaces, the freedom, the opportunity.
"He was a poor boy, raised in a small family
He kinda had a craving for somethin' no one else could see"
Today parents are their kid's best friend, they're supportive, whereas in the sixties...your parents were clueless as to who you were, they were constantly trying to keep you in line, which is why you got a jalopy and filled it with gas and drove to California to become the person you truly believed yourself to be.
"They got respect
He wants the same
And it's a certain kind of fool who likes to hear the sound of his own name"
That's who they were, a certain type of fool, who wanted to show everybody back home that they were not a loser... You don't get it by just saying so, you've got to prove it. And you can hear Randy and the band proving it all night long in this cut.
Bernie wrote it and sang it, and it's got that loneliness we all felt back then and so many still feel today, but never discuss. Yes, today every singer is a winner, whereas in the classic rock era artists said the things we could not, they revealed their inner demons, we loved them because we identified!
Oh, the sound of this track....
Bernie's tribute to the suddenly deceased Gram Parsons, this is my favorite cut on "On The Border."
"Tell me the truth, how do you feel Like you're rollin' so fast that you're spinnin' your wheels Don't feel too bad, you're not all alone We're all tryin' to get along"
It was okay to sing about being flummoxed back then, it's anathema today.
JOURNEY OF THE SORCERER
"One Of These Nights" cemented the band's reputation, they were suddenly playing stadiums, it all came together...and we had no idea "Hotel California" was around the corner. But if you were in SoCal in the summer of '75, "One Of These Nights" emanated from every window, it was in the air, and this instrumental cut was a staple, it sets your mind free...
And then Bernie was gone, soon Randy was to follow, Joe Walsh replaced the country element with rock and the Eagles became the biggest band in the land. And if you don't think it was a pleasure to hear "Hotel California" emanating from the car speaker...you didn't have an automobile or a radio. This was back when music wasn't all me-too, when a song could have more questions than answers.
And the massive success contributed to the Eagles hatred that lasts to this day, despite the fact that it's the earlier records that seem to get all the airplay. You see people hate success, they hate greatness, especially if you don't humbly say you suck. But the truth is everybody who becomes a superstar knows deep down inside how truly wonderful they are, it's just illegal to say it, but the Eagles had no problem doing so.
And in '77, not a conversation went by without someone saying they or someone they knew was living life in the fast lane. But the song that truly touched me, that made Don Henley's reputation as a songwriter, was "Wasted Time." (Oh, Glenn cowrote it, but the essence is so Don.)
"Wasted Time" is the best breakup song of all time, because it encapsulates all the pain of the transition.
"Well baby, there you stand
With your little head down in your hand
Oh my god, can't believe it's happening again
Your baby's gone and you're all alone
And it looks like the end"
The first breakup is the hardest, but the ones thereafter are tough in their own way. You see you thought this was the one, you gave it your all and suddenly...you're back in the dating pool. It feels like you're living in "Groundhog Day."
"And you're back out on the street
And you're tryin' to remember
How will you start it over
You don't know what became
You don't care much for a stranger's touch
But you can't hold your man"
Whew! The person you can no longer be with was so...familiar! The nooks and crannies of their body, you don't want to experience the uncomfortableness of someone new, you don't want to kiss a frog, you just want to go back to them...but you can't.
"You never thought you'd be alone
This far down the line
I know what's been on your mind
You're afraid it's all been wasted time"
That's the problem, as you get older, closer to the end, the termination of your reproductive window, you just can't believe you wasted so much time!
Or did you?
"So you can get on with your search, baby
And I can get on with mine
And maybe someday we will find
That it wasn't really wasted time"
But it's too soon for that perspective. You're still hurting, but you've jumped back into the game, and it's painful. But you can't look back, you can only look forward.
And looking forward we had disco and MTV and ultimately, in 1991, punk.
Oh, we had punk in the middle seventies, but it just couldn't topple classic rock. And this is another source of Eagles hatred. They didn't fade away, they didn't let themselves be replaced, rather they stepped up their game and they triumphed.
And then they expired.
But now they're back on the road, have been for nearly two decades. And I care not a whit if you don't go, neither do they, but they're America's most consistent ticket sellers, because baby boomers want to go...
To not only remember their youth, but to contemplate who they once were and now are and what a long strange trip it's been, with the Eagles providing the soundtrack all the while.