I have to admit my heart was sad to hear the passing of Glenn Frey of the band The Eagles yesterday. He forged a space in the world of classic rock that was an intregal part of my musical upbringing. You see, most people who pick up the guitar do it because there is a style or genre of music that really speaks to them. The lyric and musical emotion of the period in which they hail from dictates how one interprets the licks, strums, and even the tone that is their signature or "go to" sound.
For me, the 1970’s formed my music style. My first steps in music tasted of country, because my friend Pam’s dad played guitar and showed me Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line” at age 9. But while other electric players were chomping at the bit to play Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd, I was drawn to southern and folk rock. The groups that resonated with me were the Allman Brothers, Pure Prairie League, Marshall Tucker band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Doobie Brothers, and of course The Eagles.
I might have worn the grooves off of my vinyl album “Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975” if it weren’t for the fact that I dumped it into a pile of other “wicked” albums that our youth pastor called us to purge to keep our minds from filth and ruin. I walked away from the heap of vinyl not feeling cleansed so much as feeling like I gave up on an old friend. For me, lyrics are secondary to the music. I can listen to a song and not absorb one word because I am caught up in the sounds, chords, solos, bass lines, and rhythmic elements. The music did not cause me to sin, it caused me to be a better musician.
“Take it Easy” is one of the quintessential songs that should be on every road trip (best on an 8-track) with the windows rolled down and the stereo cranked up to a decibel level that the town 10 miles up can hear. Their music was my schoolmaster, and I loved being their student and member of their choir. Of course, Desperado also goes down as a favorite as well. I especially loved Linda Ronstadt's version of it.
If you become one of my guitar students, you will most likely be introduced to some Eagles music. Don’t fight it, run with it and join me in the happiness that comes with strumming to a feel that reflects a bygone era. It renews memories of my teenage years when my life was a little more laid back -
"Lighten up while you still can,
don't even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy.”
RIP Glenn Frey. I just downloaded the album again on Itunes in your honor ;-)
PS: I leave you with my favorite acoustic rendition of "Hotel California."