Natural Progressions Update – The History of the Eagles – Part Two

Eagles 2012 tour

Some random thoughts

1.      Live performances. Part One had too much to cram into too little time. Six studio albums, a greatest hits compilation and a live album (that didn’t even get a mention), recreational habits and fallings out. Part Two has the reverse going on – one studio album (albeit of twenty tracks), a 9/11 inspired single, several tours, the need to put the recreational habits away and the usual round of fallings out. Even so, part two has no complete song performances taking from the tours. With Part One you could see how this would be – too little time. Part One has no such problems but some sumptuous delights – most notably Joe Walsh-led performances of “Pretty Maids All in a Row” and “Help Me Through the Night” fade in and out leaving the song incomplete as though the band were afraid of giving away something for nothing.

2.      Joe Walsh in recovery. If Bernie Leadon’s humility was the human edge of Part One then it is the tale of Walsh’s journey into recognising his alcoholism which provides that necessary element in Part Two. Walsh bleeds sincerity in every frame as he tells the tale of what it took to get himself sober and how the guys in the band rallied round to do what they could.

3.      Felder vs Frey #2. And for every human story there is the ridiculous one. A multi-million dollar earning band decide how they will cut up the cake for the next stream of millions that will come in. Frey and Henley think they “deserve” the biggest share. Felder feels slighted and because the other guys out-number him, he ends up forced out of the band. Cue Mr Felder hiding himself from the camera as the tears come as he remembers the inanity of it all – not that he is any less the guilty party in any of this. At least, he doesn’t come across as bitter as he did in the second half of the “Heaven and Hell” book. One thing to chew on. We start out being told that the Classic Radio format kept the Eagles’ music alive when the “14-year vacation” was in force. Later on Glenn changes his mind and decides it was his and Don’s solo singles which kept the public’s appetite whetted for more Eagles. Now this time both could be the case – there doesn’t have to be an either / or – but the second argument certainly works better when you decide to give yourself a bigger cut – especially since Felder, Walsh, Schmit and Meisner all had hit singles in the period between 1980-1994. To the rest of us, on much lower incomes, this will all seem a bit silly and a bit sad, but then we weren’t there.

4.      Long Road to Long Road. In Felder’s book, he talks about the way that recordings for a new album were begun before his departure, and indeed, some of the song titles he mentions ended up on the completed disc. After the album was finished, Don Henley was oft heard to wish it was a single album rather than a double but that Glenn Frey had carried the day. All of this (and the long list of producers who were involved and mentioned in the album’s credits) makes us think that there is more to this album’s gestation than is included in the “History”. Now, I love that record, but I would have liked to hear some more of the detail of what went into making that two-disc set. Like so much in the history, the story is just a little too tidy around the edges. And for an album that they needed to record to keep the live shows fresh those songs disappeared from the live show en masse quite quickly – just like most of the new songs on Hell Freezes Over had done before them. It would interesting to hear them chew over what that means…..

So Part Two is less essential than Part One but it is still a pretty good way of passing some spare time. It’s still only one take on the “History” but it is still a pretty good stab at telling the story from the Henley / Frey perspective. Wonder what the live tour which is accompanying its release will look like?

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