101. The Eagles

The Eagles are a country rock band from Los Angeles, California. Originally assembled to back singer Linda Ronstadt, the four original members (Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner), with the blessing of Ms. Ronstadt, formed their own group in short order. They were very popular from the start; their first album (The Eagles), recorded in 1972, yielded three top-40 hits. They proceeded to record five more albums in the seventies, and then disbanded in 1980 for fourteen years, reuniting to tour occasionally, while recording one album of new material.

The band changed in character over the course of their great decade, from a softer, folk oriented music to a harder edged rock sound. Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner were replaced by electric guitarists Don Felder and Joe Walsh, who enjoyed significant success as leader of The James Gang and Barnstorm, before joining the band in 1975. The Eagles had five #1 singles, and two of their albums (Hotel California and The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975) are among the fifteen greatest selling albums of all time. The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

The Eagles on Wikipedia

Glenn Frey (1948-2016), guitar, keyboards, vocals, songwriter
Don Henley (b. 1947), drums, guitar, vocals, songwriter
Bernie Leadon (b. 1947), multi-instrumentalist, songwriter
Randy Meisner (b. 1946), bass, guitars, vocals, songwriter
Don Felder (b. 1947), guitar, slide guitar, vocals, songwriter

Joe Walsh (b. 1947), lead guitar, vocals, songwriter
Timothy B. Schmit (b. 1947), bass, vocals, songwriter

“The Eagles’ Greatest Hit”, by Bill Simmons, Grantland, August 14, 2013
Amazon.com Link to “Heaven and Hell” by Don Felder
“Quit Defending The Eagles! They’re Still Terrible”, by Steven Duesner, Salon Magazine, August 8, 2013

The Bad Older Influence Revisited

Historically, I’ve considered Desperado the best Eagles album, despite the modest reception of rock critics. As a senior in high school, I was invited on a ride into the coastal mountains with some older acquaintances in a powerful Chevy Blazer, an early version of the SUV. He also had good Columbian weed and a copy of Desperado playing on his cassette player. We headed up to Skyline Blvd. in the hills above Palo Alto, where our hosts knew about a steep hill to show off the traction and power of the Blazer, careening up muddy fifty foot slopes. We had stars in our eyes. Here’s this guy, ten years older than us, with really cool stuff. He took a liking to his smart young companions, the beginning of years long affiliation that included an introduction to cocaine as a recreational drug. I described more of this relationship in the Sly & The Family Stone profile. A memorable experience that etched Desperado deeply into my mind, and the beginning of my own disastrous decade of cocaine and alcohol abuse.

Here’s “Saturday Night”, one of the lesser known songs from that album. Some YouTube videos of other good Desperado songs, unfortunately, have disabled audio tracks:

The Black Hats

“They were rich hippies. They were virtuosos in an idiom that did not require virtuosity. They were self-absorbed Hollywood liberals. They were not-so-secretly shallow. They were uncaring womanizers and the worst kind of cokehead. They wanted to be seen as cowboys, but not the ones who actually rode horses. They never rocked, even after adding Joe Walsh for that express purpose (the first forty-five seconds of ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ are a push). They lectured college kids about their environmental footprint while flying around in private jets. They literally called themselves ‘The Eagles.’”

— Chuck Klosterman, “I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains (Real and Imagined)”

I selected a subset of songs from their glory years, plus the 1994 live remake of “Hotel California”. Over the course of my life, The Eagles may be the band whose reputation faded most. My growing knowledge and evolving tastes render The Eagles, once a favorite, a non-essential but significant presence within the collection. “Hotel California” remains an impressive ode to my home state. Funny thing about that song, the truth about California is the opposite — nowadays you can cash out and move away, but you can’t come back because you can’t afford to.

I saw the Eagles with The Doobie Brothers on June 29th, 1975 as part of a Day On The Green series of concerts held at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. I was two weeks graduated from high school; back then it only took forty-five minutes to drive from Palo Alto to the Coliseum. Just a month before, I saw Joe Walsh with Link Wray and the Strawbs at the Winterland Ballroom.

I really liked The Eagles when I was a kid. Their songs and their vocal harmonies still sound good, but somewhere along the way I moved on. At the heart of the story is a group of young men who came to Los Angeles seeking fame and fortune in the music business, and they succeeded brilliantly. They were a dominant presence on the radio airwaves during the post-Beatle era of pop music.

Eagles Songs:

Take it Easy, The Eagles ✭✭✭✭
Hotel California (Live), The Eagles ✭✭✭✭

Hotel California, The Eagles ✭✭✭
One Of These Nights, The Eagles ✭✭✭
Tequila Sunrise, The Eagles ✭✭✭

Peaceful Easy Feeling, The Eagles ✭✭
Saturday Night, The Eagles ✭✭
Desperado, The Eagles ✭✭
Bitter Creek, The Eagles ✭✭
Witchy Woman, The Eagles ✭✭
The Best Of My Love, The Eagles ✭✭

The New Kid In Town, The Eagles
Doolin Dalton (Inst), The Eagles
Twenty One, The Eagles
I Can’t Tell You Why, The Eagles
Heartache Tonight, The Eagles
Midnight Flyer, The Eagles
Lyin’ Eyes, The Eagles
Seven Bridges Road (Live), The Eagles
Already Gone, The Eagles
In The City, The Eagles

Related Songs:

Rocky Mountain Way, Joe Walsh ✭✭✭✭
Dreams, Joe Walsh ✭✭
Funk #49, Joe Walsh ✭✭
Help Me Thru The Night, Joe Walsh ✭✭
Turn To Stone, Joe Walsh
All Night Long Joe Walsh

The Heat Is On, Glenn Frey ✭✭✭
Smuggler’s Blues, Glenn Frey

The Boys Of Summer, Don Henley ✭✭✭
All She Wants To Do is Dance, Don Henley ✭✭
Sunset Grill, Don Henley

Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man, The Bob Seger System

Take It Easy, Jackson Browne ✭✭

Ol’ 55, Tom Waits

2 thoughts on “101. The Eagles

  1. gregbrady101thingsin1001days August 6, 2012 / 1:09 AM

    I continue to esteem the Eagles pretty highly. I think they’ve received short shrift critically that’s undeserved largely because of Rolling Stone’s indifference/antipathy over the years. I’d rate DESPERADO as my 2nd favourite album behind HOTEL CALIFORNIA but not terribly far behind. It’s a really solid set…one of those rare “concept” albums that doesn’t sound forced and overblown.

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