Showing posts with label don henley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label don henley. Show all posts

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Eagles and Country Music

It may have hit country music lovers the hardest -- the news of Glenn Frey's passing.


Well, because Eagles music is country music. The Eagles can call it whatever they want to call it, but it's country music. Oh yes. Is it any coincidence that Don Henley has just released an album of country songs? No.

I said it before, but it's relevant here -- when I first became aware of the Eagles, I essentially dismissed them; no admission by me that I actually liked those songs. I was inured to the shuffle beat and the moaning cry of a steel guitar that'd roped me into country music in the first place. By the early seventies, though, country music (as I knew it) had gotten lost. I was consigned to listening to songs by people like Billy "Crash" Craddock and Dave & Sugar. People forget how disoriented country music became in that decade. We had Charlie Rich lighting a match to John Denver records, and it was like the 2016 presidential race -- who is pure? Who isn't? Who is that interloper? We hate him! Meanwhile, us little people were just trying to pluck one decent record out of the muck.

This is, I know, obscure, but Tanya Tucker's sister, LaCosta, released a decent album around that time. On it was a track called, "Best Of My Love". I liked it! I thought it was really cool and different. I had absolutely no clue. Eagles? Yes, I'd seen their "Best Of" album in the store, my genre of music, so whatever. Oh, this is an Eagles song? Well, what the hell?

Honest to God, this was how I was introduced to the Eagles:

Thus, I begrudgingly decided I'd give the Eagles a spin. By that I mean, I paid attention when their songs came on the radio. I still wouldn't buy an album that wasn't labeled "country". I heard "Take It Easy" and "Lyin' Eyes", which I thought was good, but too long. It did have something, though. I heard "Already Gone". I did appreciate the harmonies.

Gradually, the Eagles kind of seeped in. "New Kid In Town" caught my breath. I think that was the first single by the group that I actually laid down money for.

Years whizzed by, and in the early nineties, a bunch of country music stars I loved, like Diamond Rio and Brooks & Dunn and Vince Gill, got together and recorded an album called "Common Thread:  The Songs of the Eagles".

That's when it finally hit me: the Eagles are country!

One of the best female country singers ever and my favorite Eagles song:

(Even if one of Trisha's songs has become a perpetual earworm that hasn't subsided, even after all these months.)

Tell me the Eagles weren't country!

Come on!

They could call themselves whatever they wanted. They could deceive themselves, and us. But they were country. I guess they fooled everybody -- every post-hippie who liked them -- every disco'ing guy who dressed up in a powder-blue leisure suit and thought he was hip. But the Eagles, in their subversive way, embedded country music into everybody's consciousness, and nobody was the wiser.

Least of all, me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Singer-Songwriter Series

I am fascinated by good songwriters, although, alas, I am not one. I'm not even sure I want to be one, at this point. A songwriter, I mean. I didn't mean that I wouldn't want to be a good songwriter. That would just be dumb.

I have thought about what makes a good songwriter.

And I believe the answer is.....nothing.

I know this will fly in the face of all those people who want you to part with your money; you know, to become a good songwriter. I have probably single-handedly just killed off a bunch of new start-ups, but c'mon; really. You know, Hank Williams didn't go to "songwriting school".

I think either you have it or you don't.

Oh, I'm not saying you can't get better. My theory is, one can get better at pretty much anything, except math.

But "better" is a far cry from "good".

So, my criteria for what makes a good songwriter are these:

1. Intelligence (both lyrical and melodic)
2. Having something to say (surprise!)

Okay, that about sums it up.

Therefore, I tonight begin my series, "The Singer-Songwriter". This is not to snub the non-singing songwriters, but let's face it.....Unless you're a celebrity, you really don't matter (ha).

No, I may at some point feature some non-singing songwriters. In fact, I'm sure I will. And I'm not really sure which category Kris Kristofferson belongs in (I'm just teasing Kris).

And I'm going with my favorites, because this is my blog, and thus, my prerogative.

So, Singer-Songwriter #1 is Don Henley.

It's quite an honor, I know, Don, to be the debuting star of this series, and I'm sure you'll just be all crabby about it, and think it's part of some conspiracy, and wonder where your share of the earnings are, but really it's an honor just to be nominated. Isn't it?

(Okay, let's get this out of way right now: Don is not making it easy for me to feature him, because the Eagles notoriously do not make their videso available online. Therefore, we're going with the bootlegs and other assorted things that I can find. Thanks, Don.)

But let's start where we should start, shall we?

The Eagles - Tequila Sunrise (Live 2008) by goldrausch

Hotel California- The Eagles by dream_ks

The Eagles - Desperado (Live) by cavapanon

The Eagles - I Can't Tell You Why Live by rvdgu2006

My favorite, and I apologize for the poor video quality:

The Eagles - New Kid In Town (Live) HQ by goldrausch

Eagles-Take It to the Limit-Houston 1976 by hansonataint

My new theme song!....

No performance video of this, but let's talk about cutting right to the heart of the matter (yea, I get the irony of what I just said):

We got the bubbleheaded bleach-blonde
Comes on at 5
She can tell you about the plane crash
With a gleam in her eye
It's interesting when people die
Give us dirty laundry

(c) Don Henley

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standing by
When happily ever after fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers dwell on small details
Since daddy had to fly
But I know a place where we can go
That’s still untouched by man
We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind
You can lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence
O’ beautiful, for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening
They’re beating plowshares into swords
For this tired old man that we elected king
Armchair warriors often fail
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers clean up all details
Since daddy had to lie
But I know a place where we can go
And was away this sin
We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind
Just lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair spill all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence
Who knows how long this will last
Now we’ve come so far, so fast
But, somewhere back there in the dust
That same small town in each of us
I need to remember this
So baby give me just one kiss
And let me take a long last look
Before we say good bye
Just lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence

(c) Don Henley

Listen and learn, wannabe songwriters. This is your competition.

Regardless of what the Dude says, I love the Eagles. And Don Henley. A good choice, if I do say so myself, for the first featured singer-songwriter in my series.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Microsoft Songsmith Is AMAZING!

By now, you've most likely heard about Microsoft Songsmith.

If you haven't, here's what Microsoft has to say about this technological marvel ~ one that will replace songwriters entirely!

"Songsmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singer's voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC's microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos."

"What if I don't know how to write music?
Songsmith is for you. Get your first taste of songwriting just by singing into a microphone, then explore different styles and arrangements, even if you don't know the first thing about music theory."


Watch the commercial here (and yes, this is the real commercial):

Who knew that songwriting was so easy? I feel like a real dunderhead now. Just last night I spent three hours composing a new song that, in essence, went nowhere. How I wish I could have those three hours back. And with Microsoft Songsmith, I could!

But I like to know what I'm getting into before I buy anything new, so I went to YouTube (my go-to site for all my consumer purchases), and thanks to azz100c, I found excellent examples of SongSmith at work!

What azz100c did was, he found some classic rock songs, extracted the vocals, put them through Songsmith, and dubbed the new song over the original music video.

I have found so many favorites, it's difficult to choose the best one, but here are a few for your enjoyment and edification:

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Poor Sir George Martin. He must be kicking himself now. All that hard work, and for what? Man! If only he were producing the Beatles today, he'd be in and out of the studio in no time, and he'd be sipping wine by the fire, cozy and warm in his dressing gown and slippers.

Hotel California

I always did have Don Henley pegged as a kind of electro-pop artist. And I see I was right!

White Wedding

Are those BANJOS?? Billy Idol! Who knew?

So, you see, once again, technology has just made everyone's lives easier and better! And much more time-efficient! Wow, now, not only can I write songs in the blink of an eye, but I'll have plenty of time to catch up on all those shows I've DVR'd and haven't had time to watch!

It's a win-win!


Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Danger Of Critiquing Lyrics

There are tons of songwriting forums on the net. Trust me ~ Try doing a Google search sometime. I'm not saying there are tons of good songwriting forums. (By the way, if anyone knows of a really good one, please let me know.)

These forums are places where folks get together to mingle. Someone will post their lyrics for review, and the rest of the folks proceed to rip them to shreds:

"Oh, it would be so much better if you used 'the' instead of 'a'."

Or, someone will have a nice turn of phrase, and someone will respond, "That doesn't make sense. Can't you just say, 'Jane went to the store'?"

I rarely read posted lyrics. Frankly, it's about as much fun as drinking a can of Diet Coke that's lost its fizz.

I guess the main problem I have with reading lyrics is, they just tend to drone on and on. I'm sure, with music added, the experience would be much more enjoyable. And I'm not criticizing other writers. I don't like reading my own lyrics.

That's not to say that I
never like lyrics. If someone is a really good writer, it certainly makes me want to hear the song.

But, aye, there's the rub. There'd better be a song to go with it. Otherwise, it's just a poem. And I'm not a poetry fan. Most of that stuff is just too precious for me.

But I have digressed once again.

The problem with critiquing lyrics is that they're out of context. I bet there are a million hit songs with words that either don't make any sense, or really say nothing at all. But the songs were still hits!

As a lyricist, I hate to say this, but the words are generally the
least important component of a song. There are obvious exceptions to this rule. Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Kris Kristofferson, Don Henley are a few exceptions that readily come to mind.

But most songwriters aren't poets (and in this instance, I mean "poets" in a good way).

Imagine if someone on one of those songwriting sites posted lyrics like this:

You see I’ve been through the desert
On a horse with no name

It felt good to be out of the rain

In the desert you can remember your name

’Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

La la la la la la la

Or this:

I am, I said

To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair

People would be like, "Ohh-KAY! Have you ever thought of taking up a different hobby?"

(My theory on that last one is, it was late; Neil just wanted to go to bed, but he had to come up with a last line first. "Okay, dammit. 'Not even the
chair'! Good enough!")

So, while I still think it's important to at least write words that make sense, don't limit yourself.

Don't write, "Jane went to the store", unless that's the vibe you're going for. It's okay to dress up your words, even if the "experts" don't get it.

And the words have to fit the music! Didja ever try to put music to something that was the length of a novel? Edit, people! And Don McLean, I'm talking directly to you! Yes, I know it was a big hit song, but eight and a half minutes??

Don't be so in love with your words that you can't bear to part with any of them. There's nothing wrong with short, concise lines. In fact, they're easier to put to music.

Lastly, if you insist on posting lyrics on a songwriting forum, take the feedback for what it's worth. Consider the source. If these guys were hit songwriters, they wouldn't be hanging out on internet forums.

I am, I said
To no one there

And no one heard at all

Not even the chair

Friday, January 11, 2008

Interview With Don Henley

"There's too much vapid pablum on the radio, too much airheaded, cliched junk that doesn 't mean anything. There's very little that grownups and thinking people can relate to out there these days."

In commenting on the music industry in general, Henley said.

As everyone knows, the music industry today is going through some serious changes. It's not in very good shape. The business as we have known it, has been forever changed by the advent of the digital age. Copyrighted works are being stolen, right and left, on the Internet and this is killing the industry. The Internet is basically destroying Copyrights altogether and, apparently there isn't much to be done about it. Congress is siding witht the digital companies for the sake of commerce, and intellectual property is the big loser in this game.

I'm just thankful that I'm not just starting out in the business now because the traditional income streams are all drying up. Soon, touring may be the only means of real income for a musician and so those acts who can't deliver a great live performance will be in trouble. The public needs to understand that internet priracy doesn't just affect rich rock stars or the people that they see on televison all the time. It takes the biggest toll on the little guys, the songwriters in Nashville who only write for a living and don't perform. The people who have second jobs just so they can crank out a song or two every month. It also affects the roadies and the truck drivers and the people who work at the CD pressing plants and the retail outlets. The collapse of the record industry will have a ripple effect that is wider and more far-reaching than most people can imagine. They say that in four or five years, the CD will disappear and that we will get our music via some kind of elctronic, digital device. I lament the day that I will not have something I can hold in hands. When I was a kid I was always fascinated by the covers of the vinyl albums and I read every word of the liner notes When all that got shrunk down to CD size is was disappointing, but at least there was something to look at, something to hold and to read. If the CD does disappear, I think that the whole experience of listening to music will be diminished, but maybe other people don't see it that way, I don't know.

In any case, this is another reason we decided to go with Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. We knew that we had millions of good, honest, hard-working fans out thee who would want to go and get this CD-and we were right. We are extremely grateful for all of our fans and we consider ourselves to truly fortunate and blessed. Without them, we wouldn't be here. They are the reason we continue to do what we do. That's the bottom line."