Monday, 16 May 2016

Last Words on...Glenn Frey

Vale Glenn Frey

Eagles songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Glenn Frey passed away on January 18, 2016.

Despite a 14 year absence between their initial breakup in 1980 and their MTV reunion special in 1994, and then sporadic moments in the public eye between then and the release of their first new music since "The Long Run" ("Long Road out of Eden" appeared in 2008) The Eagles were ubiquitous: on radio, on T-shirts, in iconography, in appearances in films and so on.

Familiarity obviously breeds contempt. Because the news coverage and commentary in the wake of Glenn's death was markedly different than it was with David Bowie a week earlier. Almost all of the commentary was glowing for Bowie. The commentary on Glenn Frey was increasingly negative, claiming he was a rather unpleasant individual (and worse).

At the end of the day, it is counterproductive to be negative about him in death, just as it was in life. Sure enough in the "History of the Eagles" documentary, at least during the last half, he painted himself as an arsehole in dealing with his bandmates. We can criticise but nothing is going to change that. He wouldn't have cared what we thought anyway. It is what it is. What is probably better and a more fruitful enterprise is to look at what he managed to achieve.

No matter what we think about the Eagles, a hell of a lot of people like them. Even if you never want to hear "Hotel California" ever again, at least in this country, it broke open commercial radio to independent music (it's funny to think that The Eagles were considered "alternative" for the first couple of album releases!!!). Their albums were masterfully written and recorded, even if the lyrics of "Lyin' Eyes" are lazy and the song drones on for about 3 minutes too long.

Glenn Frey had palpable talent. He is clearly audible as a guest vocalist and guitarist on the early Bob Seger track "Ramblin' Gamblin Man" and on some of the Eagles' early records ("Desperado" especially) his guitar work is stellar.

Ubiquity clouds judgement and can negatively influence taste, but that's not the Eagles fault. You can't blame them for never being away from radio for long. Blame the commercial radio stations. I'm personally glad Glenn gave the world the music he did.

Vale Glenn. He will be missed.

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