This is a hard one to write.
Glenn Fry, co-founder of The Eagles, author and co-author of dozens of hits songs, excellent singer and sometime television actor, died Monday at age 67.
In the 1970s, when The Eagles were at the top of the charts, it was fashionable in some circles to condemn them as California sell-outs, guys cashing in on tight harmony and mushy songs. Among some of WC’s punk-loving buddies, The Eagles were the poster child for everything wrong with pop music.
WC’s punk music-loving friends were wrong. The Eagles’ songs still remain popular today, when punk music has long since burned itself out. The Eagles, and especially Glenn Frey and Eagles co-founder, Don Henley, have a permanent place in popular music, and a very impressive list of hits. And speaking of hits, their Greatest Hits album alone has sold more than 26 million copies.
Glenn Frey and Don Henley took the nascent country rock of The Byrds, Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers, turned down the cowboy, and honed in on lyrics and harmonies. And created an impressive songbook. “Peaceful, Easy Feeling,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “Witchy Woman,” “New Kid in Town,” and maybe the best of all, “Hotel California,” to name just a few. You can make the case that “Take It Easy,” written with Jackson Browne, should be the state song of California.
By the by, the first song played at WC’s and Mrs. WC’s wedding reception was The Eagles’ cover of “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” off of their reunion album, Hell Freezes Over.
By all reports, Frey was a difficult, demanding perfectionist. He famously spent three days in the recording studio getting the word “city” exactly right in “Lyin’ Eyes.” Frey and Don Henley quarreled about the music, control, and the harmonies. But that perfectionism may have been why just reading the song titles to Eagles’ tunes make the music play in your head.
Part of getting old is watching your heroes, the artists you admired, and, for WC, especially the guys that wrote the soundtrack to your life, all just up and die. That wasn’t supposed to happen.
“Good night,” said the watchman
We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave.
– “Hotel California”
Rest in Peace, Glenn Fry. Thanks for all that wonderful music.