For the last two nights, we have been watching a new documentary about the Eagles. I have tested my husband’s patience by repeatedly asking “Which one is that?” I still can’t tell them apart. I always thought Don Henley was the other guy, Glen Frey.
The sound of the Eagles triggers a cascade of uncomfortable emotions. As an entity, they make me sick. The “laid-back” sound, ugh, awful. The song “Tequila Sunrise” represents everything painful about the 70’s. The mustaches and bad hair, the bandannas, the glowering expressions, the very idea of the Eagles is just lame. The 70’s marked a divisive era in rock music and I was repelled by the “Southern California Sound.” I recall being contemptuous of my upstairs neighbors who loved The Doobie Brothers.
Remember being young and taking music so seriously that it could be a deal-breaker if a new person in your life turned out to have bad taste? An awful record collection was nearly impossible to forgive. If someone owned an obscure record that I loved, I probably slept with them. Actually, I slept with them, regardless, but that’s a whole other topic.
The Eagles wrote such catchy songs that when I hear them I can’t help singing along. But familiarity is no measure of quality. The Eagles evoke nostalgia without being exciting or satisfying. It’s just elevator music. I don’t care if they’ve sold a billion records. I wouldn’t take one to a desert island even if was my only choice.
The 70’s were the decade of my young adulthood. I had a baby, in the happiest moment of my life. I also had a bad marriage, a two-pack a day cigarette habit, and little capacity for self-examination. Music was the background for everything. Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, and Townes Van Zandt were the rays of light in the bleak cloud of my domestic life. Bands like the Eagles remind me of anomie and macrame.
Some punk band wrote a song called “Don Henley Must Die” and I still admire the sentiment. even if I can’t tell him apart from Glen Frey or those other guys. Now that I’ve seen the documentary, I hate the Eagles with a deeper sense of their awfulness as people who can’t stop arguing about money and their own importance.
Eagles fans or detractors, jump in!