Growing up, The Eagles “Hotel California” was one of the only cassettes we had at home that wasn’t full-on Nashville/Grand Ole Opry, traditional country music or weird old-timey folk music that kinda creeped me out as a kid.
Anyway, I’m just laying it out there: I’m pretty familiar with The Eagles. We go way back.
And I fucking HATE them. And I’m not alone. They were the soundtrack to those endless nights growing up when, every once in a while, a friend or relative would come visit my parents on the odd Saturday night and about 3-4 drinks in, I knew The Eagles cassette was gonna be played. Loud. REALLY LOUD.
*Disclaimer: Any criticism of The Eagles from here on out will always exclude the great Joe Walsh.
Anyway, as a 10 y/o, this fucked me up. I couldn’t sleep with that shit on. It always sounded to me like there were too many guitars playing all at once, you know? I thought it weird that the singer could change the sound of his voice. (I only figured out that a few of them sang at a later time) I think this is where I started being “aware” of my musical orientation. And The Eagles were, for me, what constituted as bad music simply because I just hated them so much; and I hated them because they’d keep me up and the party going.
To this day, one of my criteria when hearing something for the first time, I often think “How would I feel if this band/singer’s music kept me up all night?”.
Now where were we? Oh, yes! “Life In The Fast Lane” by Linda Ronstadt’s Former Backing Band. It’s terrible.
This song is on Hotel California (1976). It plays right after “New Kid In Town”. I know this from memory. My sad, sad memory.
You might think to yourself, when that intro riff starts: “This song is gonna fucking RIP!”
But soon you realize that it never does, in fact, “RIP!”. Ever. There are a few times in there where they try to “RIP”, but don’t.
Don Henley. I’m on to you, Don Henley. That entire first verse, you keep saying “He” when you really mean “Don Henley”, right? I see what you did there. It’s humblebrag before it had a name. In my experience, most drummers are humblebraggarts in their way. Allow me to demonstrate as I replace “He” with “Don Henley” in the first two (2) lines and you’ll see what I mean:
He was a hard-headed man (Humble)
He was brutally handsome (Brag)
Buy what he really means is:
Don Henley is a hard-headed man (Humble)
Don Henley is brutally handsome (Brag)
See what I mean? What a blowhard, right? Ugh. The afro’d, bearded, denim-loving and coked up version of Don Henley was convinced he was “brutally handsome”. Let’s check on the ol’ Google, and…
GODDAMN YOU DON HENLEY YOU FUCKER!!!!
That is exactly what I pictured “brutally handsome” would look like!
You win this round. Well played.
Ok. Moving on.
Now another thing that really rosebuds my anus about this ode to living your best life with the worst people possible is the line “life in the fast lane…” itself. Listen to it. Take it in. How can that not drive you nuts? Ugh. Now you’ll be hearing that line in your head for the next little while. It’s in there now, isn’t it? You’re welcome!
And finally the song is terrible because, well, it’s by The Eagles. Everything they’ve ever done has always struck me as insincere and hollow – like they were one molecule away from being The Monkees. The music and the band (except for Joe Walsh) always felt so sterile to me. Safe. And as I got older, found there were other, much better bands and singers making a more authentic, far better version of what The Eagles were doing. And most of those guys were genuinely ugly, too.
So anyway, I could have picked any fucking Eagles song to prove my point, but I feel this one really has everything that was wrong with music in general once the Baby Boomers jerkholes came around.
The Eagles are the musical equivalent of a midlife crisis. They’re a businessman walking into a bar in Daytona during Bike Week, clad (along with his faithful wife) from head to toe in crisp new leather. He’s dressed like this despite the fact his bike won’t be there until tomorrow morning because he had it flown in.
Despite the fact that, much to my surprise, Don Henley was, in fact, brutally handsome – this song still sucks, for reasons that go beyond just what the song sounds like. It’s gross.
And that chorus, maaan! And lines like this:
“They had one thing in common, they were good in bed…”
Which, of course means:
“Don Henley fucks good…”
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