Tuesday, January 19, 2016
The Songwriting of Glenn Frey
There is apparently a whole culture of hating the Eagles. Sure, I've seen The Big Lebowski, and I always wince at the scene where Jeff Bridges' character expresses his hatred for them. (I've read that the actor, unlike the character he played, does not hate the Eagles. Whew - because I like Jeff Bridges and I wouldn't want to be disillusioned by another actor.) The Washington Post posted an article today about how "the Eagles outlasted everyone who loved to hate them". Some obscure music critic was cited in the story, giving his lofty pronouncements about the "superficiality" of the Eagles' music. But you know, guys who make a living commenting on other people's creations are so deep.
Let's posit that the Eagles made "superficial" and - gasp! "commercial" music. Name an artist who didn't. Think songwriting is so deep? Come on. Sometimes a song means something and lots of times, it doesn't. I speak from experience, rather than from the perspective of a guy jotting his critiques in a spiral notebook in his basement. Some of my best songs are little bits of nothing; gossamer. My "meaningful" songs are apparently only meaningful to me, and not to the people who've heard them.
And commercial? Shoot! Why in the world would a musician actually want to make money? I know lots of electricians and MD's who work for free. Don't you?
Here's the thing about Glenn Frey: he wrote perfectly crafted songs. To whit:
Best of My Love
Busy Being Fabulous
New Kid in Town
One of These Nights
What Do I Do With My Heart
I Can't Tell You Why
There are more, of course. There are a few I'm not fond of, but believe it or not, there are also some Beatles songs I'm not crazy about, either. There are more than a few of my own songs that I despise.
And great songwriting isn't simply a matter of writing down a few pithy lines. A songwriter must marry those words to an evocative melody. Glenn Frey could do both.
Maybe the hatred comes from a general hatred of the decade of the seventies. It did basically reek. Music in the seventies, for the most part, was awful. Sure, we fondly remember Elton John in his giant red glasses and feather boa, singing Benny and the Jets, but that song was hardly substantial. Most songs recorded during those years weren't. So, I guess the Eagles sounded damn good by comparison, right?
And the Eagles sound damn good by comparison to any time in music history.
Thanks Glenn Frey, for the inspiration; and for songs that made me cry, made me dance, made me feel.