Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Glenn Frey

Hey 2016! Quit messin’ with all my music icons and heroes, all right?

At the tail end of last year I suffered through the loss of classical conductors Kurt Masur and Pierre Boulez and metal god Lemmy. Then, Bowie passed on a little over a week ago. Now, Eagles co-founder, guitarist, singer, songwriter Glenn Frey died yesterday in New York City recovering from surgery.

How terribly, terribly sad. Of all the aforementioned, this truly messed with me the most.

While I didn’t grow up in the strictest sense of the word on the Eagles, every one of my three long-term girlfriends (the last of which became my wife) were huge fans of the band.

Way, way back in the ancient days of the late 80s, for three consecutive summers filled with long, warm nights, me and my pals would congregate on the steps of my first girlfriend’s house, drinking Coors and Miller Lights and smoking Marlboros, all to the tunes of Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Joe Walsh, all night long.

How many nights did I spend listening to “Hotel California,” “Heartache Tonight”, “Take It Easy,” “The Long Run,” “James Dean,” “Journey of the Sorcerer,” to name just a few of dozens? 150? 200? More? Probably more. Though I spent my weekdays working and weeknights listening to harder stuff and rehearsing with my band, weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day always seemed to have an Eagles soundtrack to them.

I could never decide who I liked better as a singer or songwriter, Frey or Henley, nor could I decide who made the band. They both did, I guess, and now that Glenn is gone there will never be another new Eagles recording. (Though, truth be told, for me the band ended with 1980’s The Long Run.) Their voices and personalities complemented each other perfectly, kinda like McCartney and Lennon, or Jagger and Richards, I suppose.

One afternoon almost thirty years ago me, my singer, and my lead guitarist showed up at some dude’s house to jam. The house had a deck that opened out onto a valley between some high mountains far away in the distance. If you fell off the deck, you might roll a couple hundred feet to the bottom and get yourself killed. Or at least that’s how I imagined it. Still, we opened beers, lit cigarettes, plugged in amps and tuned instruments.

With my singer switching to drums, the dude grabbed a guitar and went up to the mic. “Hey, you guys know how to play ‘Already Gone’ by the Eagles? It’s easy, basically just G – D – C.”

A moment later he launched into the opening riff of the song. My singer kicked in on percussion, I began the bluesy riff and my lead guitarist added fills here and there. And echoing throughout the valley was our version of that classic Eagles tune.

Now, I’m more a fan of the band’s last two albums, after Joe Walsh joined. But I like this clip to showcase Mr. Frey. Though it’s an older banjo song of a type I don’t normally dig, “Midnight Flyer” has perhaps the one of the best endings for such a tune I’ve ever heard. Glenn is playing lead guitar, and the fat, phased, fuzzed-out tone coming out of his Les Paul and his amp never fails to blow me away. The action starts around 2:40:


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