As I mentioned in my last post, this past weekend I got the chance to go to Dodger Stadium for The Classic West to see the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, among other legendary rock bands. It was amazing to say the least. Every group killed it in their own right. On Saturday night, Don Henley and company were joined on stage by country star Vince Gill and Deacon Frey, Glenn Frey’s son. All in all, they put on a great show and you can bet the post-concert depression symptoms are setting in.
Going into the weekend, I was pretty excited about the whole thing, but I already knew I wanted to do a post like this following the show. The Eagles have always been one of my favorite groups and in light of the concert, I wanted to share a little bit about how I came to love them so much.
For anyone that doesn’t know, the Eagles were one of the most commercially successful bands of the 1970s. They encompassed the light-hearted, easy-going vibe that California embraced so heavily during that time. They were at the center of the singer-songwriter movement that helped give country-rock a name, along with other artists like Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and Poco. “Timeless” can be an overused term, but like the work of so many other past great musicians, that’s really what the Eagles’ music became. To this day, their songs continue to connect with millions of fans, old and young alike.
As loved as the group was in their heyday, there’s almost an equally as large crowd that loves to hate them. It’s pretty funny actually. I myself, grew up listening to the band. Their greatest hits CD was ingrained into my soul by the time I was in tee ball, and a lot of those songs have always held a special place in my heart.
To be fair, most of the criticisms the band faces are valid. No, they didn’t push rock’s boundaries or bend over backwards to progress the genre like some other artists did. No, they never branched out too far from their commercial sound. Instead they owned it. And what they did do, about as well as any other group, was write great songs – which is a timeless trait in itself.
For what it’s worth, between all of the different lineups the band shuffled through, each of them were comprised of some guys with pretty credible track records from a musical standpoint. Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon, two of the original four members, hailed from two of the most underappreciated bands in the underground country-rock scene, Poco and the Flying Burrito Brothers (check these guys out!). When Joe Walsh joined, he brought the group some notoriety via heavy-duty guitar work and hefty hotel room fines, and Timothy B. Schmidt, who replaced Meisner in Poco and then eventually again with the Eagles, was a slick bassist himself.
Henley and Frey were the constants, the leaders of the group; they easily became one of the most beloved songwriting teams of the decade. All together, the Eagles had a unique blend of voices that in their best songs, never failed to coat each lyric in a dreamy atmosphere. Their biggest hits, like “Hotel California”, “Lyin’ Eyes” and “One of These Nights”, succeeded because they capture what they did best by every measure; their style was especially rhythmic, but also soft, calm and stoic.
Am I a little biased? Sure. But for all the Big Lebowski’s out there who want to tell me the Eagles suck, I’m just gonna have to respectfully disagree. They’ll always be one of my favorite bands and to say I got to see them live is pretty special to me. I guess I wasn’t born in the wrong decade after all.
In honor of the band, here is a playlist my brother threw together after the show. It includes their entire set list from Saturday night, minus one song in the middle – “Love Will Keep Us Alive”. It’s got all the big hits, but hopefully there’s a few songs on there you might not have heard before.
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