Friday, February 22, 2013

The Eagles

I just can't get enough!

I mean, I've always been a fan ... well, maybe not as much of their first two albums ... but pretty hard core from "On The Border" and beyond.  Meanwhile (with the exception of "Take It Easy", which I still turn off nearly every time it comes on the radio today) I loved all the singles ... and even bought the "Desperado" album for the title track alone.

I've followed their career faithfully ever since ... even bought all of their solo albums.  (Well, Don and Glenn's anyway!)  Their story (not always a pretty picture) has been well documented over the years ... but this new Showtime Documentary Special, "The History Of The Eagles", REALLY delves deep into telling the behind-the-scenes story of the evolution of this landmark band ... all of which is told with great intensity by the band members themselves.

If you watch it from start to finish, it'll take you just over three hours to do so.  I've already watched it three times!  It's that fascinating and entertaining.  (And available now on Showtime On Demand.)

And then I've loaded up the car with nothing but Eagles CDs this week ... like I said, I truly can't get enough.

The documentary is fascinating and entertaining to watch.  Vintage videos and performances ... interwoven with current, up to date reflections by all of the current and past members of the band.  

Talk about "warts and all" ... 

They go into the drug problems ... the final hour's reflection of Joe Walsh's journey into excess and then rehab is heart-breaking to watch ... but thankfully he came out on the winning end of that journey ... 

The groupies backstage  ... (and the famed "third encore" ... or, perhaps more appropriately, the "after The Eagles concert spread-eagle party"!!!)

They interview all of the past members of the band and EVERYBODY speaks in complete candor.  (Watching Don Felder leave his seat after becoming emotional at the end, realizing what a great gig he had given up simply for having higher expectations for his personal rewards is also very touching, especially after reading his compelling biography, "Heaven And Hell: My Life With The Eagles".)  And you've really got to love the "mutual admiration society" between The Eagles and original producer Glyn Johns.  (You'll also enjoy the story behind the photo shoot for the band's first album, where high on peyote, they spend the day in the desert where REAL eagles soared above them.  And David Geffen's shrug regarding the messed up album cover photo is priceless!)

The film is clearly Glenn Frey's baby, who spends much of his screen time presenting himself as "Yeah, I'm an asshole ... but I'm a damn successful asshole".  But he also stresses that they wanted to hear from everybody ... and encouraged everybody to tell the truth ... because he really didn't care what anybody said ... he just wanted to tell the true story of The Eagles as it happened ... the good, the bad and the ugly.  The film successfully does so ... in fact, it captures it perfectly.

Their music is timeless ... there really aren't any "Forgotten Hits" by The Eagles because radio still plays them all ... and sometimes to great excess.  The band themselves have only improved in time ... in every fashion, they sound better today than they did 40 years ago ... and seem to be appreciating it more, too.  (Sobriety will do that for you!)

Their landmark LP "Hotel California" became a tough act to follow ... the follow up album, "The Long Run", took nearly two and a half years to complete ... and by the end, they were barely speaking to each other.

Their first greatest hits album went on to become the biggest selling album of the 20th Century, moving over 26 million copies.  (I still remember watching, with a sort of Sammy Sosa / Mark McGuire excitement, the battle between "The Eagles Greatest Hits" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album ... the two LP's duking it out for first and second place on the all-time best sellers list, changing positions regularly!)  Now think about THIS for a second ... that Eagles Greatest Hits Album only covers 1972 - 1975 ... they hadn't even achieved their greatest success yet ... "Hotel California" wouldn't come out until two years later!  Yet even their earlier material was inspiration enough for 26 million fans to shell out their hard-earned cash to pick up a copy ... and that's just in America alone! 

And then in 1980, they split up ... "out with a whimper" they said ... "a horrible relief" according to Don Henley ... and wouldn't even consider getting back together until hell froze over ... which it apparently did in 1994.  But the fact is they never really left us.  At just about the same time The Eagles went their separate ways, Classic Rock Radio became a brand new FM Radio Format ... and its been thriving ever since.  And who did they play the heck out of???  Why The Eagles, of course!  Their music became more popular than ever, and has been pounding out of our radios non-stop ever since.  They won over a whole new generation of fans ... to the point that when they finally did decide to put their differences aside fourteen years later, they couldn't schedule enough performances to satisfy the overwhelming demand for tickets.

The "Hell Freezes Over" MTV Television Special / Concert was an unparalleled success ... and world tours followed ... and continue sporadically today.  (Don Henley has a new solo album coming out and will most likely tour as a solo act again ... but at any point in time, the four current members ... Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit could decide to climb back into The Eaglesmobile again and the fans will come out in droves to see them ... because good music like this is timeless ... and will never die.)

We've been fortunate enough to see The Eagles perform live several times now since the reunion ... and been treated to nothing short of pure excellence on stage ... letter-perfect renditions of their biggest hits, so familiar to us all.  (Don Henley comments during the documentary that one critic accused the band of "loitering on stage" ... no, they're not a "flash act" ... these guys are all about the music and the execute it with pure perfection.  Thankfully, along the way we're also treated to some comic relief by Joe Walsh.)

A few years ago, they released a brand new album "Long Road To Eden", which they marketed themselves through the WalMart Stores ... another #1 success all these years later.  In the process, they managed to stay true to themselves ... by sounding the same ... and yet fresh and relevant at the same time.

Thank God for Irving Azoff, Bill Szymczyk and the seldom-credited Travis Tritt, who reunited the entire band for a video shoot of his cover version of "Take It Easy" for the "Common Thread" album.  These folks never gave up on seeing The Eagles perform their magic again ... and magic it is.  Nothing short of magic could explain what we've all been able to witness these past 40 years.

Check out the Showtime special.  (A DVD release has not been announced yet on Amazon ... but you know it's coming soon.)  Hopefully, it'll have another hour or two of "extras"  Seriously, I just can't get enough!!!  (kk)