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Appreciating Lost Talent

January 18, 2016

The Eagles were my first favorite band. It wasn’t my choice. Well, maybe it was just a little. I remember that when I was eight years old, my brother and I had two records: the greatest hits compilations of the Eagles and the Steve Miller Band.

steve miller gheagles gh cover

First of all, the Eagles cover was much cooler. Although the horse’s head on the Steve Miller Band cover appears to be flaming, the eagle head appears as if it’s going to hunt you down and eat you, even if you’re on a getaway horse that appears to be on fire.

The Eagles album had better songs too. Don’t get me wrong; I love Jet Airliner and The Joker, but the best song on the album may have been Fly Like an Eagle. That’s right: an Eagle. It all comes full circle.

I’ll even admit to having seen the Steve Miller Band in concert three times. I only saw the Eagles once. All were great shows (but not Tom Petty or U2 good). The Eagles broke up when I was 12 and reunited when I was 24. I just didn’t have as many opportunities.

As a kid of single-digit age, I didn’t have much say in my likes and dislikes. By the time I was in middle school the band may not have been a thing anymore, but I wore out two copies of their live double album tape.

I now own it on CD and have it loaded on my iPhone. It still has its days as my only playlist as I make the rounds.

That said, the Eagles didn’t remain my favorite band. I bought and enjoyed the solo work of the the band members, especially Joe Walsh. I went through phases with other bands being my favorite: Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and – I’m a little embarrassed to admit this – Styx. Don’t judge me. I was 12.

By the time I was in high school, however, I owned every Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers record. That was my group. That was the singer and music that spoke to me. I still loved the Eagles and so many other artists. I was learning about Motown and early rappers like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. And I had yet to really go back and explore the greats from before my time, like the Beatles and Bob Dylan.

But the Eagles, and that first greatest hits album, will always be the first set of songs I knew by heart.

If you’ve followed my blog any amount of time at all, you know I love music. You know I love all kinds of it and for so many reasons. Mostly, you know that words matter to me.

My favorite Eagles song of all time, and one of my 10 favorite songs ever, was Saturday Night. It’s not popular on the scale of Hotel California or Desperado. It just has a phrase I’ve always loved.

What a tangled web we weave
Go ’round with circumstance
Someone show me how to tell the dancer
From the dance

It’s one of their early songs, and it didn’t make it onto the album cover with the deranged eagle skull, but it’s definitely my favorite 70s soft rock song featuring a mandolin solo.

From the Eagles, and later from Don Henley, and eventually from every other song I loved (not counting Safety Dance), I learned to appreciate words. My favorite songs may be ones to which I can headbang while driving; more likely, though, is that they have words that do something for me. Santa Monica by Everclear. Invisible Sun by the Police. Pretty much everything Stevie Wonder has written. Great music, but more profound language.

Tonight, when I learned that Glenn Frey, one of the founders of the Eagles, had died, I felt a significant sense of loss. I don’t usually react much to celebrity deaths. It’s not like I knew them. It’s not like I won’t have access to their words and works. In the last week, however, we’ve lost David Bowie, Alan Rickman (not a musician, but a brilliant actor and huge to my kids as Professor Snape).

Tonight, after I heard the news, I started posting Eagles songs on Facebook. I found that most of my favorites were actually Glenn Frey or Randy Meisner songs. Still, Glenn Frey was there, and he had a phenomenal mustache.glenn frey

Music stays with you. I don’t know how you would survives without having it feed your soul. To quote Stevie Wonder:

Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it

The Eagles were my first favorite band. I can still name most of their songs in one note. I still have that first album I owned hanging on my wall at home, along with several of my other favorites. photo

I know this is supposed to be an education blog, and that this is one of those posts that will get dozens of page views instead of thousands. I don’t care. I write what matters to me.

Honestly, the Eagles probably have nothing to do with why I am an educator. They may have something to do with why I write like my brain is on fire, though.

Rest in Peace, Glenn Frey. And thanks for the tunes.


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