Typically I don’t comment on the deaths of celebrities except for the RIP section of the annual Sammy Awards, a segment that was initially meant to spoof the Oscars “In Memoriam” but has become a part of the “show” that I take rather seriously because I feel like the people noted have earned atleast that small token of recognition. However, there have been occasions where I felt compelled to make additional observations (Whitney Houston & Robin Williams are two such examples), and now we have another.
A couple of weeks ago we lost Glenn Frey…guitarist, lead singer, & co-founder of legendary 1970’s supergroup The Eagles. Were they a rock band?? Country?? Rockabilly?? R&B?? Folk?? Yes…all of the above. The Eagles embodied the sound of an era…mostly mellow, occasionally rockin’, with sublime harmonies and superbly written songs that paint pictures & tell stories. It’s a level of quality stratospheres above almost everything that music lovers are exposed to nowadays on the radio. I really liked The Eagles as a kid growing up in the late 70’s & into the 80’s, and was beyond blessed to see them live in Columbus, OH in 1994. I am especially glad to have gotten that opportunity now that Frey is gone because no matter what the remaining members or former members of the band do in the future it won’t be the same. Rest in peace Mr. Frey…you did good and brought much joy into the world.
Unlike previous & future editions of Superfluous 7 I am not numbering or ranking these selections in any particular order. To me and millions of other fans there is no such thing as a bad Eagles song, and among the bigger hits it is nearly impossible to choose one over another. These just happen to be a handful that I am especially fond of for various reasons. The great thing about music is that even when performers are no longer with us the fruits of their genius remain for the masses to appreciate for decades to come. It is with that comforting thought in mind that I wistfully present…..
from the home office in Winslow, AZ…..
The Superfluous 7 Favorite Eagles Songs
Best of My Love
The 1974 album On the Border was The Eagles third record and the first with guitarist Don Felder. Felder replaced Bernie Leadon because the band wanted to skew more in a rock-centric direction rather than a country-ish vibe. This song, which tells the story of a failed relationship, was co-written by Henley, Frey, & their friend JD Souther and became The Eagles’ first #1 hit song.
What can I say about Hotel California?? It is arguably one of the best and most famous rock songs ever written. The title track on the band’s fifth (and best-selling, excluding greatest hits compilations) album came from a guitar riff conceived by Felder, with the lyrics penned by Henley & Frey. What do those lyrics symbolize?? There has been much speculation…everything from the church of Satan to being institutionalized in a mental ward to drug addiction…but Henley has downplayed all of that, indicating that it is simply allegorical social commentary about what was then modern culture. Regardless of its meaning, the fact is that Hotel California is an awesome song with memorable words and outstanding musicality.
Peaceful Easy Feeling
I’m not sure if it’s a song that tells a story as much as it evokes a mood. It was written by a man named Jack Tempchin, who would go on to co-write Glenn Frey’s handful of solo hits in the 80’s and also wrote Swayin’ to the Music (Slow Dancing), a Top 10 song for Johnny Rivers in 1977. Peaceful Easy Feeling appeared on The Eagles’ 1972 self-titled debut album and has become one of the band’s signature tunes.
Co-written by all four members of the original band (Frey, Henley, Meisner, & Leadon), this is an oft overlooked song on their second album Desperado. There are 2 or 3 more well-known tunes on the record (including the titular title track), but I really like this one. It’s a typical story from the viewpoint of a lonely guy reminiscing about the gal that got away and features the soothing harmony for which The Eagles are famous, as well as Bernie Leadon playing the mandolin.
Seven Bridges Road
Here we have a song that The Eagles never released on any of their studio albums. It is a cover tune originally written & recorded by a man named Steve Young (no…not the NFL Hall-of-Fame quarterback) in 1969 about an actual road in Montgomery, AL. The Eagles would use it to warm up before their concerts in the 70’s and it was often the show opening tune. I first became aware of the song in college when my fraternity performed it during the annual Greek Sing competition. It is performed “a capella” with a bit of acoustic guitar accompaniment and features the fantastic harmony that the band did so well.
Take it Easy
This was the band’s first single, released in 1972 on their debut album. Co-written by Frey and good friend Jackson Browne, it champions a lifestyle philosophy of chilling out and not taking everything so seriously. A music critic for Rolling Stone wrote that Take It Easy “has everything: danceable rhythm, catchy, winding melody, intelligent, affirmative lyrics, a progressively powerful arrangement mixing electric guitar and banjo, and a crisp vocal, with vibrant four-part harmony at just the right moments for maximum dramatic effect.” I concur.
The Sad Café
Whether it is a bar, a friend’s house, or some other location, we all have fond memories of certain hangouts of our youth. Thoughts of such venues recall a perceived simpler time when all of our hopes & dreams were in front of us, nothing seemed impossible, and we had big plans to conquer the world. This song speaks of such a place and also alludes to the idea that oftentimes those idealistic visions of grandeur don’t come to fruition. It was co-written by Frey, Henley, Souther, & Joe Walsh and has a hauntingly beautiful saxophone solo at the end. The Sad Café was on the final Eagles album before their 14 year hiatus, The Long Run, which contains a few more celebrated tunes, but this is an underrated gem.