Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Eagles take over the City Dump

Quit defending the Eagles! They’re simply terrible - Salon.com:

The serious Eagles fan would come to the defense of this band--seemingly as much despised as they are loved by fans--and maintain that their cynicism, despair, and weariness were anything than the routine posturings of experience-glutted rock stars, the more being that they were artful and could write good song hooks and manage to keep their songs under a certain length. Granted, although a tune like "Hotel California" , paced at a tortoise crawl and it is slow in duration, is a notable exception, notable in that it contains everything that is objectionable to this band a collective projection of the zeitgeist. 

The lyrics are laden in down cast metaphors where the secreted meanings are grandiosely proclaimed, exhibiting a "you know what I mean " vagueness that is an  bullet to interests in whatever forbidden knowledge these musicians gleaned from their adventures at the edge of their own limitations.  An amazingly successful rock band with some indisputably talented musicians, the Eagles are a band I never cared about. Even in their best songs they seemed, smug in the depths of despair, depression and bad-luck stories their songs evoked. Tuneful, well crafted, laden with nicely arranged guitar textures and incidental instrumentation,the sweetly harmonized lyrics were a first rate evocation of bankrupt imaginations trying their best to out -bottom the rest of rock and roll's iconic desolation row residents. In meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous there there is the tradition of a having a leader "qualify" , that is, telling their tale of what it was like, what happened and what it's like now. 

The telling, or testimonial , if you will, would normally contain some sordid tales of their past that their  powerlessness over alcohol led them to, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly; the point is to make the listener understand the inevitable destruction this path results unless the alcoholic or drug addict has their moment of clarity and grasps a solution, which are the components of the "what happened" and "what its like now" parts of the formula. There is the habit of some members with years of recovery (such as it might be for them personally) who eschew the solution and instead tell one horrible anecdote after another; this is not generally appreciated by other group members seeking a confirmation of the hope that is supposed to be contained in the rooms where those meetings are held. This turns testimony in a drunkalogue and the effect is of someone who takes an inordinate pride in the horrible things they have done--each instance of bad luck,lying, theft, jail time, divorce, traffic accidents, job loss,  sexual misbehavior become like bullet points on a resume. 

Whether they intended to or done, those who overshare such things wallow in the gloom and their words become pointless. So with the Eagles, who have spent decades writing songs as if they are the only witnesses to the end of the world, a world where only they are citizens worth listening to. Theirs was a music akin to an old car with a great, shiny new paint job; attractive surface gleem, noisy and tired under the hood. For all their gold records and fanatical fan base, they have proven to be even more tiresome than U2. 


  1. Spearchucker Jones10:39 AM PDT

    I always felt there was a major difference between the likes of the Byrds or the Buffalo Springfield and the Eagles, who came along later to consolidate the innovations of earlier L.A. band into immaculately-groomed commercial product. There was a certain innocence, a lack of formula to what the Byrds and the Springfield did, whereas the Eagles radiated a smug, self-satisfied arrogance from their first album onwards-- something many rock bands are guilty of, of course. The Eagles fused this overweening ego with a palpable glow of MELLOWNESS, a Peaceful Easy Feeling Tequila Sunrise banality that made them far more obnoxious than your run of the mill pompous rockers. The fact that co-leaders Henley and Frey were so technically good at what they did only made their work more intolerable. They must be the most unlikeable duo in popular music; as they have advertised for years, they can't even stand each other. Maybe they can't stand themselves, which, as Liberace's brother once said, doesn't stop them from flagellating themselves all the way to the bank.

    1. No argument here about your ideas about what distinguishes the bands from one another. A particular grouse I have against the band ,
      besides the fact that they elevated dime novel existentialism and made that generic bleakness the source of fantastically profitable music, is Don Henley's voice, half bluesy croak ala his old boss Bob Seger, half cultivated whine. It's a voice that is nothing less than the voice of a bus passenger who conducts a monologue on the history of their doctor visits on a long ride to work. Henley manages to sound both overwhelmed by the horrors he has been through and smug for having journeyed through them: "I am humbled and despairing at the tragedies I have seen, so don't you try to out do in the dues paying department, smart ass." He makes you want to smack him and tell him to go spend his money somewhere else.


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