Other than posting the cover above, I’m writing this tribute in lieu of Album Cover Art Wednesday, which will return next week. I swore I wasn’t going to write another rock star R.I.P. but what can I say? I am First Draft’s resident ghoul, after all.
When Dr. A and I watched the History of the Eagles last year, we were struck with how well-preserved Glenn Frey looked, especially after all the money that went up his nose in the Seventies. The Dorian Gray jokes flew thick and fast. That’s why it came as such a surprise to learn that he had died at the age of 67.
When I wrote about Desperado last summer, I had this to say about the Eagles:
It’s time to enter the rock and roll confessional and admit to liking the Eagles. They were the kings of the charts in the 1970’s but have never been cool among my circle of music geek friends. I used to care about such things but I no longer do. So, yes, I like the Eagles for their superb harmonies and well constructed songs. There, I said it. Now y’all take it easy and get over it.
Another reason my mind turned to the Eagles is that I recently watched History of the Eagles on Netflix. It’s one of the best rock documentaries I’ve ever seen, primarily because of the brutal candor of the band members. Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh come off the best and Don Henley is the pretentious, pompous douche I’ve always thought he was. The story of their 1980 breakup is a classic and has given me a new catch phrase: “Just 3 more songs, asshole.” You’ll have to watch the film or buy me a beer to hear the story.
Glenn Frey was the one who told most of the breakup story and “just 3 more songs, asshole” was his line and a damn good one. Don Felder was the asshole in question: it happened at a 1980 benefit for Senator Alan Cranston and Felder was very rude to the Senator and his wife. Bad boy. History of the Eagles is also full of great stories about the tales behind the tunes and Glenn was a helluva storyteller and a very funny man.
Many people don’t understand how hard it is to write a catchy, hooky pop-rock song. Glenn was one of the best at it. In the Eagles days, he primarily wrote with either Don Henley or J.D. Souther but there are a few Eagles songs that are pure Frey, especially his masterpiece, Lyin’ Eyes:
Rockin’ in the rain in New Zealand, 1995:
Frey played song doctor for Jackson Browne on Take It Easy. Jackson was stuck so Glenn added the bridge and the “standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” verse. And a monster hit was born. Here are the Super Eagles at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction:
Here’s Frey’s tribute to Al Green-style soul:
I’ll give the man himself the last word from a 1992 interview on Later With Bob Costas:
I still can’t believe Glenn Frey died before Keith Richards or his band mate Joe Walsh. R.I.P. sir.