Saturday, January 17, 2009

Take it to the limit one more time, Torn Slatterns and Nugget Ranchers

A new study reveals too much caffeine can cause hallucinations; yeah, caffeine can cause so much delusion it can make Starbucks charge $5 for coffee and, worse, people will be so whacked out on caffiene, they will pay it.

The US Airways flight that landed safely in the Hudson river was saved by the heroics of it’s pilot, Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out Sullenberger was just another investment scammer trying to fake his own death.

The US Airways jet that landed safely in the Hudson river lost its engines when they hit a flock of geese. This just in: the Audubon Society is suing US Airways.

New York Knicks center, Eddy Curry, was charged with sexual harassment by his male ex-driver;
not to get into details, but leave it to a Knick to come up with a new way to suck.

Guess what the name was of the first boat captain to reach the US Airways plane in the Hudson river? Vincent Lombardi. Yeah, apparently, of the survivors, he said “Swimming isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

My Final Eagle Epilogue:

The problem with 95% of critics is they suffer from a near terminal case of nobody-liked-me-in-school-so-now-I-am-going-to-get-back-at-the-popular-kids syndrome. The problem is the artists they are getting back at have the same disease.

Just read a scathing review by legendary and dead rock critic Lester Bangs on the Eagles. It was demeaning, insultingly patronizing and, worst of all, dead on accurate.

Lester Bangs – portrayed by that baby-headed dude, Phillip Seymore Hoffman in “Almost Famous” - was an admitted loser/dork so of course he isn’t going to like a popular band made up of popular and handsome jock types. But he admits, at the top of the interview, that the Eagles were top notch singers, musicians, harmonizers and had an amazing knack for knowing what a popular hook sounded like to make it a popular song.

What Bangs pointed out was the type of the West the Eagles sang about were like those tacky driftwood sculptures that were so popular in the Seventies, not the real gritty, sand and wind and bone and snake and cactus and redneck poverty and drunk cowboy West that Townes Van Sandt and Tom Waits nailed so perfectly.

The Eagles even covered Tom Waits’s “Ol’ 55” with their perfect pitch, slick production and soaring harmonies and heart-breaking pedal steel guitar. It is a great song, I love it, and it captures absolutely none of the heart and grit of the original.

As I was reading Lester Bangs brutally dismiss the Eagles with feint praise in the same way as Keith Richards did with the word “complacency” I began to get really angry. How dare this admitted dork and loser be so right about my beloved Eagles?

This is painful to admit, but we are talking about a grown man with a ten-year-old daughter, who loved the Eagles so much he recently marked their homes in Coldwater Canyon and Laural Canyon and Malibu on Google Earth. Sad? You bet.

The Eagles never suffered and it shows. When I thought they were writing about my heartbreak over a gorgeous spoiled brat high school cheerleader dumping me, a popular jock, for an even more popular jock, they were really writing about a record company president who didn’t kiss their butt enough. Truth be told, none of us really suffered at all.

But it sure seemed like it at the time.

The Eagles first album was recorded in the plush studios in England where Glyn Johns recorded with Led Zeppelin. And, while being put up in the lap of luxury in London, all the Eagles did was whine about how homesick they were and that Johns wouldn’t let them do drugs in the studio.

In fact, the leanest time the Eagles had was when their producer, David Geffen, put them up in Aspen to work out their first album in a bar called the Gallery. (It was like Woodstock, I’ve met hundreds of people who said they saw the Eagles there when in reality, they weren’t even called the Eagles yet) Poor guys, playing in a popular bar in Aspen. Boo fricking hoo. Try living in a studio apartment with a rickety pull-out sofa bed in Long Beach that smelled of rancid meat.

Or how about a fifth floor walk up New York studio apartment on West Third that got so hot one night I couldn’t tell if the tickling feeling on my chest was sweat or a cockroach running over me.

But enough about me.

Glenn Frey himself said many of the songs were songs about the drama behind the scenes of making music disguised as love songs. It explains why Frey never wrote a song about the roadie he fired in Europe because the guy came back to Frey’s room with a soft pack of Marlboros instead of the hard box.

The only suffering the Eagles did was suffering over the pressure of being wildly successful. You can’t write a great love song when you have five hot groupies waiting for you down in the hotel bar while you’re in your lavish suite getting dressed in pre-faded blue jeans and $5,000 endangered species cowboy boots while shoveling a pile of expensive drugs up your nose with a silver spoon and swigging it down with expensive brandy.

As great a song writer as he is/was, you want to know why Don Henley hasn't written a hit song in a long time? Because nobody wants to hear a song about the heartbreak of having to move from your Malibu canyon mansion to a palatial estate outside of Houston.


How many Eagles songs do I listen to on a regular basis? Two. There are two songs that are on a lot of my iPod playlists. “Hotel California” and “Seven Bridges Road.” While my iPod playlists are littered with blues classics like Little Walter’s “Juke” and rockers like the Stones and Led Zepplin and Bruce Springsteen and folk/country Emily Lou Harris angelic rendition of Townes Van Zandt’s haunting “Pancho and Lefty.” The difference is those bands were singing about their reality not an image of what the country imagined their image was like, as the Eagles did.

The line in Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous” that actually came from Glen Frey sums up the Eagles main motivation as well as their biggest flaw:

“Just make us look cool.”

I'm willing to bet a thousand dollars that thought never crossed Jimi Hendrix's mind. And there was nothing he did that wasn't cool. 

One day at a sports bar near here I ran into the guy who was the sound engineer for Jackson Browne, Crosby Stills Nash and Young – his best man at his wedding was David Crosby – and the Eagles. When I breathlessly asked him what the Eagles were like as guys, he paused, knowing he didn’t want to pop my bubble and said diplomatically;

“Those guys made it so well so young they never really had to grow up.”

And it shows in their music.

Henley is a master lyricist and an incredible singer and he had an amazing line I have quoted a lot about the trappings of fame:

“What do you do when your dreams come true and it’s not quite like you planned?”

You have the decency to stop whining about it.

Here is my question: What do you do when you wake up one day and find out the rebel/rocker idol band of your youth was really just a bunch of spoiled and drugged-up studio musicians?

But looking back at the favorite band of your youth is like looking back at your old high school crushes. Now I can clearly see they were mostly shallow, vain, emotional blackmailers who were raised from birth to be gold-diggers. But does that mean I wasn't smitten and heartbroken at the time? No.  

So what if the Eagles were really record company marketing executives disguised with long hair, mustaches and turquoise jewelry?  That doesn't mean "Desperado" isn't a great song. It is. 

Part of me will always love the Eagles. But, for the first time,  now I can see why some people hate them. Especially when you even think about listening to "Disco Strangler."