Our Rock n’ Roll… MY Rock n’ Roll.
It has been a mere nine days since Bowie passed at age 69… and yesterday, we lost a musician who was much more of a personal connection to me… Glenn Frey left this world at the age of 67.
The deaths… and those of the great actor, Alan Rickman, also 69, and another icon of my youth, Pat Harrington, Jr. at 86… hit me on many levels.
Three of the four are younger than my Dad, which forces me to realize the end is much closer than ever before. It is scary and makes me want to crawl under the blankets and not come back out.
And yet… we need to… we need to live and fulfill and bring a whole heck of a lot of light to this world!
Speaking of my awesome and beloved Father, he took me to the second concert I ever went to… The Eagles, Heart and the Little River Band at Giants Stadium. My best friend at the time, Harry Atlas and I wanted to go on our own, but my Dad would not allow it. So there he sat for hours and hours… asking the woman in front of us, who was sick from smoking some yellow laced cigarette, if she was okay… and making us leave during one of the Eagle’s encores.
It was odd and strange and funny and frustrating… but I will never, ever forget it.
These artists, especially the musical ones, had a huge impact on my life. Their songs and albums spoke to me and my friends… made us laugh and cry… and kept my sometimes lonely bedroom alive, and filled with such amazing music and lyrics. We were, perhaps, the last generation who sat on their shag rug carpets with a huge set of headphones, listening to records on turntables… vinyl… cassettes… and yes, even 8-tracks.
My stereo was and still is one of my most prized possessions… but circumstances has forced the use of a small Bose system and an iPod or iPhone. I long to get a Sonos, so I can fill every room of the house with a deep bass and beautiful treble… or go back to the real Old School set up I once had… Boston Acoustic speakers… a Denon tape deck and receiver… CD player… and of course my record player.
The platter… the arm moved to the side… the record down…
The needle… the drop… the crackle… the hiss…
And then… oh, so many things… Everything.
I had a huge coil cord, so the headsets would reach my bed, which was in the opposite corner.
Eyes closed… mind and ears open… and oh what came through in stereo… Bruce, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles…
Don’t think I ever knew that “New Kid In Town” was about Bruce. Or maybe I am at the age where I am starting to forget… Hell, I know I am at that age… Another sad and scary reality.
Marc Eliot’s piece on CNN.com is worth a read. He has great insight into the band AND why we are all in such mourning. And yes, clearly I need to read his book on the band.
The Eagles seemed to be a love it or hate it kind of band. For me, it was always love… from listening to trying to play them on the guitar… and always… always singing along.
When words became important to me, I seized on the lyrics that Glenn Frey and Don Henley wrote. It was not simply about the music and the notes and signing along any more… It became about stopping… taking in… really listening and thinking.
Hotel California remains one of my most favorite albums of all time… Dessert Island stuff for sure…
Some college friends and I were lamenting on Facebook… and we all seemed to go to that record… and especially the title track and “Wasted Time” and “The Last Resort”.
The lyrics so much more potent for the age we’re at now… where mortality is not only a reality, but thrust in our faces, especially these last nine days…
As I play that one in particular, over and over, I am moved to tears… because of what it was and is on its own… but because now, like listening to Bowie, it will never be the same…
The joy will always be tempered with the knowledge that they are gone.
From “Wasted Time” (Glenn Frey & Don Henley)
“You never thought you’d be alone
This far down the line
And I know what’s been on your mind
You’re afraid it’s all been wasted time.”
“The autumn leaves have got you thinking
About the first time that you fell
You didn’t love the boy too much
No, no, you just loved the boy too well
So you live from day to day
And you dream about tomorrow
And the hours go by like minutes
And the shadows come to stay
So you take a little something to make them go away
And I could have done so many things, baby
If I could only stop my mind
From wonderin’ what I left behind
And from worrying ’bout this wasted time.”
From “The Last Resort” (Glenn Frey & Don Henley)
“They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye,”
Biting… accurate and so powerful. Damn…
“Already Gone”, while not written by either Frey or Henley, it was written by Robb Strandlund and Jack Tempchin, this song has two sets of lyrics that are amongst my most favorite ever written and is one of those band-defining tunes for me…
“Just remember this, my girl, when you look up in the sky
You can see the stars and still not see the light .”
“Well I know it wasn’t you who held me down
Heaven knows it wasn’t you who set me free
So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key.”
Luckily I had seen The Eagles live many times… but it’s ironic…
I missed this last tour due to concert budget restrictions, and was upset because everyone who went said it really featured Joe Walsh and let him stand out more than ever before. But like so many other things, I figured there’d be another…
Life ain’t like that sometimes, and we are once again reminded… “If not us, then who? If not now, when?”
I leave you with the prophetic and all too meaningful and painful song that is, of course, getting the most play right now… the Mexican tinged beauty “It’s Your World Now” that Frey wrote with his other major collaborator, the aforementioned, Jack Tempchin, for Long Road Out Of Eden…
“It’s your world now
Use well the time
Be part of something good
Leave something good behind
The curtain falls
I take my bow
That’s how it’s meant to be
It’s your world now
It’s your world now
It’s your world now.”
It is our world… so let’s make the best of it… for ourselves and for the generations to come…
The universe seems to be in an odd spin these days… crazy politics… world on fire… death and destruction.
The last thing we need is the loss of our music… and of our artists.
So listen while you can… on your stereo… at the local club… at the arena…
Sing out loud.
Dance… not as if no one was looking… but knowing that they are… be free… be alive.
Bond… embrace… and let the music play… NOW… and ALWAYS…
RIP dear friends… RIP…