It was my aunt.
It’s her fault I fell in love with the Eagles and Little River Band.

Back in the prehistoric days there was vinyl and only vinyl. My aunt, you know, the cool one, had albums by bands I had never heard of. So the one time a year during summer when we’d go to the bay area to see her for a week or so, I’d go through her albums and play records from bands I’d never heard of, and I can remember the summer I found Hotel California. The huge gatefold of the beautiful if not fictional hotel. The smell of ‘grass’ imbedded in the cardboard (the cool aunt obviously smoked pot but I was too young to know what the smell was). And the music, the songs, jesus titties, the songs.


There’s something to be said for the ‘California Sound’ of the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, and so many others. There’s such a cool, laid back, story teller kind of vibe to most of it. And the Eagles had that story teller patter down in spades. Not to mention the music was top notch. The Eagles can be called many things, but lazy and musical slouches aren’t two of them. They didn’t play a note or record a riff until it was perfection personified.


Much has been said about Don Henley and Glenn Frey and their ‘methods’ for running a band, recording music, touring, and well, 1,000,000 other little items that they probably didn’t have to obsess over and run band mate after band mate out of the band with, but then, we wouldn’t have these epic albums like Hotel California, The Long Run, and Desperado.

The polished music, the polished show, not a note out of place, were part and parcel for the Eagles. They may not have been the shiniest, liveliest band on stage, but damn if they didn’t sound good.

Sure there were a few other albums, and the Eagles most definitely didn’t keep to most band schedules on record, release, tour, record, release, tour. And in their 44 years of being a band they’ve only released a paltry seven studio albums, but it is what is held in those 7 albums that is the key to all of this.


Simple perfection. A certain sound, that California sandy beach, wind blown hair, laid back, everything’s alright, everything’s cool man pass the joint, boat drinks after sunset, Quaaludes and cocaine nights that make up everything that embodied the California experience of the 70s.
The band took their sweet time and the results, if not anemic, were amazing.


hotel california
That magical summer I found out about the Hotel California, I wandered through Life in the Fast Lane (too young to get the cocaine references but loving the beat and vocals all the same), wondering if I’d ever be the young boy that so much Wasted Time was spent just trying to connect with the sad woman in the song, never wanting to be a Victim of Love even if I didn’t quite glean the cheating running through the lyrics, feeling the loss of Pretty Maids all in a Row, and ending up in the Last Resort which I got full force and understood the religious implications of it all.

Hotel California was more of a church for me than a ‘hotel’. It wasn’t just an album, it was a moment in time, captured and released on this slab of vinyl that I played over, and over and over again. I’d alternate between Hotel California and Little River Band’s Lonesome Loser that summer, but I always returned to Hotel California.

40 years later and I still return frequently to Hotel California. It may be a little tarnished, the colors faded, the magic a little soft around the edges, but the songs, the beautiful songs are still there. They haven’t aged a bit, or maybe it’s that they’ve grown with age and experience. The songs a little more full, with nostalgia, longing for the California scene again.

And all you wishing well fools with your fortunes

The rooms are still there, waiting, patiently, to take me back to a place, a time, a feeling or emotion. As I grew so did the album. There are so many key points in my life that reside and resonate inside Hotel California. I’ve been that Victim of Love, The New Kid in Town, I’ve told the woman,

‘You didn't love the boy too much, no, no
You just loved the boy to well, farewell’

I’ve spent many a year to Try and Love Again. I’ve spent much of my Life in the Fast Lane and lived to tell about it. I’ve searched for my own Hotel California on the horizon, and always worship (or is it anti-worship) at The Last Resort.

We lost Glenn Frey today.

We’ve officially lost the Eagles today.
I have his solo albums. I love his solo albums. ‘You Belong to the City’ is a dark and seductive song that I’ve spent many a night with in my Walkman (cassette) roaming the streets of San Francisco in the late 80s. Smuggler’s Blues and his stint on Miami Vice made Glenn the ‘cool one’ from the Eagles.

The Long Run was a hit and run album for me. It still holds up today, but it feels… short, curt, and cynical where Hotel California was a more ‘fresh’ experience, The Long Run was more wisdom and surliness. The Disco Strangler, Those Shoes, Sad Café, I Can’t Tell You Why, King of Hollywood, Heartache Tonight, In The City, Teenage Jail, all tell stories of the decay of the California dream that just three years earlier seemed so promising.

Oh, no, you can't do that,
Once you started wearin' those shoes’


Or maybe my rose colored glasses of the hotel that never was (or was California itself the hotel on the horizon? The promise of pretty little fantasies that were nothing but ugly truths on the harsh reality of daylight?) was obstructing the true message of Hotel California and The Long Run was jus the night cap, one last toast the the death of the California dream?

But for me, it will always come back to Hotel California.

‘You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!’

 

Thank you Glenn, for your legacy, your music, your magic, and your talent.

 

glenn frey 3