A few days after the demise of David Bowie, we lost another one.
Glen Frey’s death at 67 took this writer by surprise.
First off, may God bless his wife and kids in their grief.
Now, his death hasn’t had the impact of Bowie’s death, but because I process stuff by writing, I’ll give this a stab. If the shoe fits…dig it. If not, no reason to get tweaked.
Frey, being born and raised in the Detroit area meant exposure to some of the hardest, kick-ass rock n’ roll on the planet. To leave Royal Oak for LA and become an Eagle must have involved a degree of soul-selling. Their talent, and tightness notwithstanding, Frey & Co. came to represent everything wrong with what rock n’ roll became. IMHO, the ingestion of copious amounts of blow didn’t lend itself to the jams. It’s a cold, anal-retentive drug. They placed musical perfection over cutting loose and kicking out the jams. In everything I’ve read, Henley and Frey ran the Eagles like a business with themselves as co-CEO’s and were basically pricks to work for. While certainly their right as free Americans to do so, it didn’t engender any sense of continuous longevity as evidenced by numerous personnel changes. In short, I personally never viewed them as a band…because they weren’t.
To be sure, they had their moments. “Already Gone” is one rocker that comes to mind. “Peaceful Easy Feeling” (written by Jackson Browne, though Glen contributed the line “It’s a girl my Lord in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at me”) was a nice cut to smoke a joint with, but their music never instilled a need to get up and dance…or play air guitar. Insofar as making any real rock n’ roll, were it not for the contributions of Don Felder and Joe Walsh, the Eagles wouldn’t have amounted to much.
None of this is to burn bread on an alumni of Royal Oak Dondero High School. Glen Frey had a vision, plan, and executed it. He lived his American Dream. More power to him.
I play their shit from time to time. It’s okay….kinda’ like white bread okay. There’s no real “ummph” to their music. From my experience and historical perspective, the Eagles made “chick music” and no real rocker would be caught dead with any of their albums visibly seen at a party. Their first album came out the month I graduated from high school. By the time of landing in San Francisco after my first experience with a “therapeutic community,” the Eagles were well on their way up the charts.
In 1975, my sister Nora Hurley Galdiero got me a job as a gopher/dishwasher at Harpoon Louie’s, a bar/lunch spot in the heart of SF’s Financial District where she also worked. That whole scene was the living embodiment of every 70’s stereotype imaginable…including a jukebox blasting so much Eagles music, it drove me nuts. I came to HATE “One Of These Nights” for the limp flaccidity and lameness it evoked to a disco beat. Arghhh…there was a bartender who came in while I was prepping for lunch with Ching our Asian cook. Without fail, this bartender would cue up “One Of These Nights” to start his shift. Ching and I would look at each other, he’d roll his eyes and smile because of the volcano of disgust about to erupt from the soul of a guy who missed his Grande Ballroom daze.
But that’s my puny little trip with Glen & Co. which admittedly, doesn’t amount to much.
On a macro level, there just wasn’t much substance to their music. It captured the hedonistic, cocaine snorting, self-obsession of the 70’s pretty well, but ultimately, in categories that count, the Eagles missed the mark. The power was lacking. Their big monster hit “Hotel California” was never an anthem of the stature of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Music was created by God as an expression and celebration of everything transcending the human condition–a vehicle from the finite to the infinite. I’ve never been moved to contemplate spiritual matters as the result of listening to the Eagles in a manner Van Morrison & Bruce Springsteen have challenged this hungry, Irish soul.
But hey, what do I know?
I pray Glen found peace with God and was able to repent for “One Of These Nights.”