Thursday, November 04, 2010

"The fucking Eagles?"



Ed here: After The Big Lebowksi started to gain attention on HBO etc. a few people I'd known in the old days e mailed me to say that Lebowski's episode in the back seat of the taxi where the driver plays the Eagles reminded them of me in my drinking and drugging days. Belligerent to a fault; willing to say anything to piss somebody off. And always succeeding. Especially impressive was the fact that I wasn't tough. Unfortunately a few of the guys I picked on were.

"The fucking Eagles?" Lebowski cries. And then the burly cabbie tosses him out into the night.

I have to admit I've always been of two minds about the omni-present Eagles. I've always thought that Glen Fry was a hack and an idiot, esp when he was trying to ride the "Miami Vice" train and pretend he was Don Johnson's character. Some of their tunes are memorable but the collective persona is ridiculous. Seinfeld brilliantly mocked "Desperado," the phoniest bullshit-macho song ever recorded ("Up there riding fences" in his GAP duds). Range ridin hombres all right. Their fans are quick to point out that some of them actually came from Texas. I come from Iowa but I don't raise hogs or grow soybeans.

There were certainly better groups around at the time they hit so big but they had the right kind of urban cowboy schmaltz people wanted to hear and they had brilliant management.

I mention all this because The AV Club ran a truly interesting take on the Eagles and their relationship to country music. I don't know who Nathan Rabin is (I'm sure he doesn't know who I am either) but he is one hell of a writer. Read on:


By Nathan Rabin November 2, 2010

In 2009, A.V. Club head writer and hip-hop specialist Nathan Rabin decided to spend a year or two immersing himself in the canon of country music, a genre he knew little about, but was keen to explore. The result: “Nashville Or Bust,” a series of essays about seminal country artists. After 52 entries, Rabin plans to travel south and explore some of country music’s most hallowed landmarks and institutions.

Nathan Rabin:

When it comes to the Eagles’ suitability for Nashville Or Bust, I am powerfully split. Part of me feels like I have to write about the Eagles, who became one of the most popular bands of the past century while playing a historically non-commercial genre: country-rock. I feel like I should write about the Eagles because they represented the non-cool side of the same hip scene that spawned Sweetheart Of The Rodeo-era Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Gram Parsons. Yet there is a dissenting voice in my head screaming that I shouldn’t write about the Eagles because they aren’t really country. After a certain point, it’d be a stretch to even call what they play country-rock, and this certainly isn’t a series devoted to the biggest-selling rock groups of all time.

Yes, the Eagles are too big to cover, and too big not to cover. For a group whose greatest hits implore listeners to take it easy and cultivate a peaceful, easy feeling, the group inspires an astonishing contempt. The mere mention of the group’s name is enough to inspire reflexive cries of “Fuck those guys,” or approving references to Gram Parsons’ description of the group’s music as “a plastic dry-fuck.”

for the rest go here:

http://www.avclub.com/articles/week-46-the-eagles-the-crackers-you-love-to-hate,47108/

16 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Thanks. Though that's one weird take, that country-rock was "non-commercial"...CCR, alone, puts the lie to that, and they were hardly alone, even if we segregate rockabilly and countrypolitan and any of the revivalists that arose toward the end of the Eagles original run. Of course some of them, hello Mountain, were even worse than the Eagles...

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I like them, whatever their genre or internal strifes.

Anonymous said...

Looong time ago, when I was playing acoustic guitar and singing for beers, I learned to play "Peaceful Easy Feelin'" because chicks dug the hell out of the Eagles and especially that tune. Can't remember a single other song of theirs, but that may be my own fault...
Terry Butler

Todd Mason said...

You've very lucky to have forgotten "Hotel California," the most excruciating megahit of the '70s this side of Journey, Styx, KISS or the overplayed tracks of Led Zep.

Ed Gorman said...

Oh, no--Lyin Eyes. That's the one I can't take. I liked Elton John's first album but anything after that I plugged my ears. All those interminable songs of his. I like three minute and twenty second radio songs ala The Brill Building. And that doesn't mean they have to be bad. I remembered when Dionne Warwick first hit. Man those were songs. And Phil Spector. Great stuff until he decided to write like the Beatles.

Todd Mason said...

My other least-favorites of the '70s tend to run to Leo Sayer, the Bee-Gees (particularly their bathetic attempts to be vaguely Beatlesish as well, such as "I Started a Joke"), Melanie's "Brand New Key" (rather like some of her other work), and such prog-pop as Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Moody Blues. Dismal stuff. Distended pop didn't do much for me, either, particularly when croaked out by the likes of Kenny Rogers, or as inane as...well, so many ("My Girl, Bill"..."Let Me Help"...that's enough). Happily, there was quite a lot of good music floating about in the '70s (if relatively little of it on commercial radio), and so much legacy from the earlier decades...Warwick and Dusty Springfield dueling for Bachrach, certainly, and so many bright young bands from the '60s, even if so many of them became bloated caricatures of themselves in the next decade...

Matt said...

The Eagles did for cocaine what grunge did for heroin. And when the party was over, we woke up hungover sleeping with shitty Republican presidents for the next eight years.

And Ed, I think you're insane about Elton. Everything up to and include Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy is pure radio gold.

Anonymous said...

My fave Elton John Albums--Fingernails On A Blackboard and Silly Songs From a Silly Man. Now he's trying to build some R&R cred by attaching himself to a real rocker, the under-appreciated Leon Russell.
Thanks for that at least, El. Hope you can get him a record without you on it!
R&R Snob

Anders E said...

I never voluntarily listened to The Eagles before in my life. This post made me check out some of their stuff, and I found it somewhat pleasant to the ear, but also lame und exceptionally unexciting.

Most annoying 70s act has to be Queen. There's really no contest. Smug, arrogant, ugly, virtually unlistenable - and they played in South Africa in the bad old days. Urgh.

Regarding Rabin's reference to some "common wisdom" about pop music in the seventies - that can only be considered wisdom if you limit yourself to white rock. Too busy whining about Genesis to listen to Curtis Mayfield, The O'Jays, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, The Chi-Lites - or Bob Marley for that matter? Your loss.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIDeK7bVfUk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3G5IWESfqg

Btw, professionalism and skilful musicianship certainly does not exclude wit, humour and playfulness (was that ever in doubt?). Ian Dury and his Blockheads may never have cracked America, but for a few years (ca. 1977-80) they were major pop stars in Europe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIs_YRaOXzA

Ed Gorman said...

I'd add Philly soul to the 70s great music list. And yes indeed Curtis Mayfield and Bob Marley.

Anders E said...

Come to think of it, the most ahead-of-it's-time song of the 70s was something that most rock snobs would probably sneer at. Yet, "I Feel Love" sounds almost like it was recorded last week.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX8n6o-MH4Y

Fred Blosser said...

Personally, I like the little of Henley's and Frey's solo music that I heard, but the Frey-Miami Vice thing was memorably lampooned in a MARRIED WITH CHILDREN episode when Al Bundy hits the streets to the tune of "You Belong to the City."

In the DC area, Clear Channel has an oldies station, a classic rock station, and a "mix" station. All have on endless replay the same handful of singles by the Eagles, Billy Joel, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder.

Todd Mason said...

I'd managed to forget Queen in the context of this discussion. And excluded Pink Floyd's THE WALL, thinking it was a 1980 release, but it was 1979, wasn't it?

There was Lots of brilliant pop and rock and soul and rap (hello, Gil Scott-Heron, doing some of all of that, for instance) in the '70s.

Anders E said...

Todd, THE WALL was late 1979, just like LONDON CALLING, another one that is often thought of as an eighties album. LONDON CALLING I like, generally, despite being what I generally refer to as 'rock critic's rock'. I will likely never ever voluntarily listen to THE WALL, however. I hated the title song with a vengeance way back then and I have no ambition whatsoever to challenge that verdict now. Or ever.

Matt said...

Not a single mention of Gram Parsons? Or is he so "in" he's "out" again? Wait.

Ed Gorman said...

Gram Parsons was and always will be a classic. In his case "in" and "out" are irrelevant.