Musings on the byways of popular culture
18/01/2016 by Black Type 46 Comments
Black Type says
19/01/2016 at 00:04
I did write a lengthy post regarding the sad news of the passing at the age of 67 of Glenn Frey, but for some reason it hasn’t shown up. This on top of the earlier news regarding Dale Griffin. Sombre times on Planet Rock…
Junior Wells says
19/01/2016 at 00:32
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia.”
Doesn’t sound very pleasant.
19/01/2016 at 15:12
Acute Ulcerative Colitis sounds absolutely terrible. I have similar but not-by-any-means-acute-Crohn’s and I sometimes want to cut my own bum off. I imagine acute AC would be living hell.
19/01/2016 at 01:01
Having watched the their excellent documentary, he was clearly one tough cookie.
I saw them for the first time in Glasgow in ’73 when they supported Neil Young at his weirdest. (TTN tour)
They blew the place apart.
19/01/2016 at 08:25
Yes what a shame. He was obviously nakedly ambitious and revelled in the joys of rock star excess but I am quite sure no more so than many others. But with the Eagles he created one of the most popular bands ever, and that doesn’t happen by accident. Funnily enough I watched the doco on Netflix last week and it’s excellent. Who next, I hate to wonder.
Vulpes Vulpes says
19/01/2016 at 11:22
The epitome of summer in-car entertainment for me in my teenage years; The Eagles at full chat in my pal’s Triumph Herald, barrelling to the beach at Bantham and roaring home again in the evening. So long and thanks for the top tunes. Take it easy now fella.
19/01/2016 at 12:56
Yeah, seems he could come over as a bit of a dick in latter years, akin, perhaps to Mike Love’s role in the Beach Boys, but, trendy as it is to mock’em but, way back then, jeez they were good. so glad I caught the show last year, or was it the year before.
19/01/2016 at 13:09
@retropath2 I think faux-adoration of MOR is more on-trend than mockery, isn’t it?
19/01/2016 at 14:16
Unsure your point? That Eagles MOR or that MOR is trendy? If the former, sure they became somewhat anodyne and formulaic on occasion, but uncertain if, from the perspective of the 1970s, they were the middle of the that eras road. (If tunefulness equates to MOR I would have thought there is a choir that might prove a disappointment to?)
19/01/2016 at 15:17
Didn’t understand much of that- just gently challenging the idea that these kinds of bands are seen as square or laughable any more. I don’t think they are, really. It’s OK to like 70s MOR.
Generally my impression is that they’ve had the famous Colin H-style reappraisal.
19/01/2016 at 16:01
I don’t think most people consider the Eagles to be 70s MOR.
19/01/2016 at 17:28
No, they are 70’s AOR as well
Archie Valparaiso says
19/01/2016 at 18:17
I think Bob’s right. They have been reappraised over the last 10-15 years and come out looking pretty damn good to most people. In their five-year early-to-mid-’70s pomp, they wrote well over a dozen memorable songs, they played and sang better than practically any of their peers, and last year they ended a stadium-filling world tour forty-odd years after they’d started out and with their three most important members still in place. In terms of their lasting impact, they’ve been about as successful as any “classic rock” band could be. (The only other ’70s acts I can think of who’ve lasted the course as well as the Eagles have are Springsteen and AC/DC.)
And, if I’m honest, I realise that I’ve fired up more Eagles songs over the last twenty years or so – as a choice of music that I was in the mood to listen to at a certain time – than I have with any of Bowie’s.
There. I said it.
19/01/2016 at 19:15
I guess the Eagles were reviled as much for their overblown Cali-rock star lifestyle excesses as much as for the perception that they over-blanded their country-rock melange – but at the end of the day they wrote some bloody good songs and in Desperado and Hotel California knocked out at least two really decent albums. Must admit I too turn to the Eagles more than I’ve done to Bowie over the years, and try as I might I can’t get beyond the feeling that Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and a decent Greatest Hits is all the Bowie I’ll ever need.
Uncle Wheaty says
19/01/2016 at 20:29
I agree, I love a lot of Bowie but for me The Eagles were played more often.
19/01/2016 at 18:34
WE might not diss them but plenty young buck journos still sem to hang on to that idea, I feel, that they are such a target, and they have, actually, received plenty a kick over the years on this/these site(s) for not being credible enough anymore. (No I can’t think of examples, but it was sufficient to make me feel I had to defend giving ’em a good review in my night out piece of whenever it was.)
My elusive point in the above post Bob, was that, if you were calling them MOR, which it seems you weren’t, then that maybe you were equating MOR with hummableness, which seemed a bit rich given your own way with melodies, assuming you might not wish to be considered MOR. But you weren’t. (Altho’, maybe, what is so wrong with MOR? What, even, is it, other than a tag for putting down another generations choice of styles?)
19/01/2016 at 18:47
I think of MOR as more of a judgement-less label, really. I see it just as s way of describing something radio friendly and inoffensive, which sounds like damning with faint praise but isn’t.
Maybe I’m using the wrong OR. I might mean AOR. But I don’t really care, they’re equally meaningless.
Rigid Digit says
19/01/2016 at 18:49
Surely, they spent their time in the Fast Lane
Diddley Farquar says
19/01/2016 at 19:13
I think there’s been a reappraisal of a whole swathe of what you could call soft rock which is typified by Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac. I wouldn’t call it MOR. I associate that with easy listening of a more pop type. It’s AOR I suppose. I would also say bands like ELO and 10cc from the same period have also been more favourably looked upon than before, along with Journey, Boston, Toto, America etc. The punk/NME orthodoxy has all but disappeared (apart from some tired old indie acts, hello Noel Gallagher) and newer generations revisit such records without prejudice and baggage about what’s cool or not – the quality of the craft and tuneage is recognised and any cheese element that is present is enjoyed in a slightly ironic, ‘guilty pleasure’ way. There’s a more open-minded sense of picking tunes from all different times without caring so much about historical significance and where they came from or why, which is kind of refreshing.
Personally I find The Eagles too soppy and smooth, however catchy and well performed, apart from Hotel California, the track not album, which I love.
19/01/2016 at 19:23
This is pretty much me too. I don’t dislike the Eagles but they’re too soft and smooth and shiny for me. I recognise the way with a melody, though, and sort of admire without loving.
Oddly, I cannot be doing at all with 10cc or ELO, but I genuinely think Rumours era Mac is pretty close to the pinnacle of perfection. I bloody love them.
19/01/2016 at 19:32
I’d pick certain tunes from all of 10cc, ELO, Rumours’ Mac, even Queen, but not bother much with the rest. They’re all a bit produced and shiny. There’s also that whole yacht rock thing that’s got kind of hip.
19/01/2016 at 19:48
Bob, I think they are a bit smooth too but Lyin eyes is a top song and Desperado not too shabby either. I think they lost a lot of credence when they did the Hell Freezes over tour which was clearly just about the money since the band members couldn’t stand to be in each others company so the stories go.
19/01/2016 at 13:30
I just stumbled across this Torygraph article about how pissed off he was about the Eagles being dissed in The Big Lebowski.
Then again, this might just be a journalist making a mountain out of a molehill and playing on preconceptions about the band and the film,
Baskerville Old Face says
19/01/2016 at 17:07
Fuck the carpet-pissers. The Dude abides man!
19/01/2016 at 17:14
Bugger. I hate the Dude AND the Eagles. Dunno which to re-appraise.
19/01/2016 at 17:31
The dude abides. He was right. Give me the misanthropic syncopation of Steely Dan over safe country-rock and double denim.
20/01/2016 at 00:35
The disdain for the Eagles was largely, as with most mega successes , a consequence of massive over exposure.
19/01/2016 at 18:54
A nice retrospective here on Classic Rock magazine
19/01/2016 at 19:40
Love the Eagles. One of the first albums I bought was Hotel California and I still love it; my dad’s friend had been living in California and he introduced me to a load of West Coast/Laurel Canyon music as a kid; it still sounds great to me.
Don Henley’s still pushing himself to write interesting songs – with varying results – but he’s still having a go. Sorry to see this guy go at 67.
19/01/2016 at 19:59
Loved The Eagles when it was ok to like them.
Loved them when it wasn’t.
Love them now when it is. Or isn’t.
Pulvis et umbra sumus. Post tenebras spero lucem.
Resquiescat in pace.
Blue Boy says
19/01/2016 at 21:06
I noticed the BBC news referred to him as Glenn Fry. I assume that’s right; must admit I had always assumed it was Fray…
19/01/2016 at 22:29
Oh, except Huw Edwards has just called him Glenn Fray. Now I’m confused….
19/01/2016 at 23:08
So does this mean that Stephen Fray is getting a bit ragged at the edges?
Mike Hull says
19/01/2016 at 23:55
The Eagles were my favourite group when I was 15. They replaced Elton John as my favourite artist and were ousted by Genesis when I was 16! I still like the Hotel California album, but other than that, it’s a handful of songs, including their version of Take It Easy, which is a true classic of radio (and car) friendly soft rock.
20/01/2016 at 08:45
Hotel C, like Freebird and Stairway to Heaven, maybe even Cortez the Killer, guitar songs overplayed to buggery yet, still an absolute delight to revisit by chance or circumstance, even if they wouldn’t be a choice to knowingly pick out for yet another listen.
Personally I think the Eagles were a top notch country rock band, and a not so great rock band. The first 3 albums, in no small way down to the Bernie Leadon participation, were fabulous except when they rocked out, as they were then unconvincing at that until Joe Walsh joined, by which time most of the songs were already done.
20/01/2016 at 21:05
Can understand that the Eagles’ (and that of Fleetwood Mac et al) sheer ubiquity on American FM radio in the 70s would have put some people off.
It’s one of the things I love about being a music fan in 2016 – freedom to love any damn thing that takes my fancy without having to conform to a rigid manifesto.
Johnny Concheroo says
20/01/2016 at 23:51
Interesting article in the Guardian “You mourned David Bowie, but you mock Glenn Frey. Why?”
I must put my hands upto this and plead guilty. The Eagles meant very little to me. Other than a smattering of decent songs, their albums tended to send me to sleep in the same way that Buckingham Nicks era Fleetwood Mac still do.
The Eagles were better with Joe Walsh who gave them a little more bite, but to me they were country rock with all the sharp edges removed.
Great musicians, great singers, but nothing to hold my interest beyond the ubiquitous greatest hits album (42 million copies sold, it says here!)
21/01/2016 at 00:03
I should add, that’s one of the worst pieces of writing I’ve ever seen in Guardian. It has a distinct Friday afternoon “will this do” ring to it.
It says nothing and goes nowhere.
22/01/2016 at 00:21
I always found Everett True to be a self-regarding bellend when he was at the NME. My opinion of him remains unchanged.
22/01/2016 at 00:30
As many of the comments suggest, this theme of the article seems to have more to do with the writer’s socia media networks than any discernable trend of mockery towards Frey. I’ve certainly not seen anything remotely close to it; conversely, in rebuke of the writer’s main point, amongst the eulogies for Bowie I’ve seen/read several pieces accusing him of being a Nazi sympathiser (yes, that old chestnut) and child abuser/rapist.
21/01/2016 at 08:14
Bob Lefsetz’ Letter on GF….
He lived the American Dream.
You know, wherein your wits, smarts and pluck, never mind the gleam in your eye, take you from nothing to everything, in this case not only accumulating riches, but influencing the culture.
And there were those who hated him for it.
They lionize Steve Jobs. And Mark Zuckerberg. The techies that changed the world.
But they hate Glenn Frey and his flock of Eagles for being so damn successful, for worming their way into women’s hearts. And let me be clear, it’s always guys complaining about the Eagles, girls loved them. Because females are not into pecking order, not married to the past, they can embrace that which truly satisfies, casting preconceptions aside.
And the preconception was that you had to be English, with bad teeth and little education, or American and challenging cultural commandments, or else you didn’t matter. Gram Parsons might be the father of country rock, but he could never compose a song that penetrated the public consciousness to the point that radio stations could not stop playing it and none of us could ever forget it.
Like “Take It Easy.”
That acoustic guitar came out of the speaker in the dashboard and in the summer of ’72 all of America felt good. It was a different country back then, divided for sure, but we still believed we were winners, that if we put our minds to it we would come out on top. We were never gonna be here again, so we opened up and took across this great country of ours, lived life to the fullest, with the radio blasting all the while.
And despite the hit single, it was the era of album rock. So upon hearing the mellifluous tune you went out and purchased the Asylum LP and…you played it over and over again. Thirty seven minutes long, the debut had no clunkers, it begged to be heard. Take that modern music.
But the follow-up was a commercial dud. “Desperado” got no traction, not the LP nor the title track. The press had primed us for it, back when “Rolling Stone” was the bible of a generation, but without a hit single “Desperado” faded in an era where music dominated and we couldn’t afford to buy all we wanted.
And then “Best Of My Love” went to number one. Credit a deejay, who rejected the two authorized singles in favor of it. Suddenly, the Eagles owned the airwaves.
Of course Glenn would tell us they were called “Eagles,” and was unhappy that everyone appended the “the,” but he and the rest of the band were thrilled with the attention and the dough. They were rock stars. Raising funds for political candidates and partaking of the goodies that accompany the success. It’s one thing to be rich and famous, it’s another thing for it to be based on your creativity, your art. These are the people we exalt. The Eagles were at the pinnacle, especially with the following year’s “One Of These Nights,” they were a stadium act, the biggest band in the land.
And the hatred ensued.
But unlike today’s wimpy musicians, the Eagles barked back, owned their talent and success. Funny how we give Kanye a pass, despite not having made memorable music for years, but we excoriate the SoCal band that was bigger than the rest.
But no one was prepared for “Hotel California.” When you dropped the needle on the record you heard a sound foreign to the catalog. The guitars screamed and if they were big before, the Eagles were now America’s band.
It was “Life In The Fast Lane.” A term every baby boomer knows and said for decades, when they snorted coke, when they did what they should not do. The Eagles blasted open the highway and then we drove right down it.
And now Glenn Frey is gone.
I felt he would make it. It had been weeks, he’d made it through the dreaded holiday period, but then he passed.
And America was shocked.
The press didn’t know how to react. Because they had to be cool, they couldn’t attest to what data tells us, that the Eagles are the biggest American band in history.
Their “Greatest Hits” jockeys with “Thriller” for number one. And unlike so many albums of the past, it still sells. It’s not in the rearview mirror. The strange thing about the Eagles is they never went away. They inspired the country pickers and they still own the bars and the radio. That’s what you get what you’re that damn good.
And there’s no one better.
I know, I know, you’ll cite artists breaking convention, your favorite player, but the truth is writing catchy songs with meaning and singing them with exquisite harmonies is damn hard to do, it’s just that the Eagles made it look easy. Hell, half of Nashville walks in their footsteps, but no one’s done it nearly as well, and so many of those stars don’t even write their own material.
But the Eagles did. With help from J.D., Jackson and Jack Tempchin. But they weren’t guns for hire, but members of the club, a roaming group of musicians who owned the hearts and minds of America throughout the seventies, and didn’t let go thereafter.
So you’re either sad or you’re not.
But if you are…
67 is way too young. And although Don Henley had more solo success, it was Glenn’s band. He started it, he guided it. And every group needs a driving force.
So it’s the end of an era. And it’s a great loss. You’ll never be able to see the Eagles again. But if you did…
The sun would be setting behind the stage.
And at the appointed time, with no wait, they would take the stage and Glenn would say…
They were the Eagles from Southern California.
And the guitars would strum, the bass would pluck, the drums would pound and as the sound washed over you you’d become your best self.
America runs on California. That’s where the innovation begins, where you go to test limits, where there’s no ceiling on either creativity or success.
And people hate California the same way they hate the Eagles.
But what they really want to do is get on board.
And we all got on board with the Eagles. Even those who say they do not care. They only wish they were standing on that corner in Winslow, Arizona, with a girl checking them out.
In a flatbed Ford, made in Detroit. Where Glenn Frey emanated from.
But he remembered his roots.
And built upon them.
Want to be successful?
Need it. Study. Make friends. Seize opportunities.
And take no shit as you ascend into the stratosphere.
That’s what Glenn Frey did.
You cannot make a big enough deal about his death. Because what once was is now gone. Doesn’t mean we can’t create something new, but so far we haven’t minted stars as big as those from the seventies, never mind create music as memorable.
Glenn Frey was here for the long run. He got stuck in the Hotel California and he wasn’t eager to get out. But we all meet our demise, his as a result of side effects from arthritis drugs, he just didn’t want the pain.
None of us want the pain. We’re self-medicating every day.
But years ago the music was enough. We just turned on the stereo and a smile crossed our face.
Glenn Frey took us there.
Now we don’t know where to go.
21/01/2016 at 19:06
That’s a great piece of writing.
21/01/2016 at 20:22
He does a daily “letter” by email which is often good, though he has certain things he harps on about. Quite an old school ernest style, I think.
21/01/2016 at 21:15
Well said, Twang. I enjoy both Bowie and the Eagles and don’t do outpourings when someone dies. Having said that, I didn’t pull out any of my 8 Bowie albums (perhaps because there was more than enough input last week) but my 5 Eagles albums have had a run through. Figure that one out, damned if I can. One thing you nailed for sure: still lots to smile about.
24/01/2016 at 06:58
Glen Frey died of ,amongst other things, ulcers and pneumonia.
I was surprised to then read this account of Randy Meisner’s departure from the band.
During the 1976-77 tour in support of the Hotel California album, Meisner was plagued by ill health and exhaustion, as the band toured constantly for over eleven months. By the time the tour reached Knoxville in July, Meisner was suffering from painful stomach ulcers and the flu, and the illness made it hard for him to perform, in particular the high notes he had become famous for singing. He had been arguing with fellow member Glenn Frey about his signature song, “Take It To the Limit”, during the tour, as Meisner was struggling to hit the crucial high notes in the song due to his ailments. During the following show, Meisner decided to skip the song due to his flu, but when Frey aggressively demanded that he sing it as an encore the two got into a physical confrontation backstage, and Meisner angrily departed.
24/01/2016 at 07:48
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