by Alan Yudman
Most Hollywood And Whine is all about movie reviews. But I felt the urge to write about the passing of Glenn Frey. Thanks for tolerating my indulgence.
I sifted through the coins. Counting them up, hoping to find enough money. I needed about $7.99 plus tax. Success!! I drove over to K-Mart and made a beeline for the record department. Walked past A, B, C, D…. Ah! There!! E!! The Eagles. I found it. “On the Border”. Another Eagles album to add to my burgeoning collection. At that time I was just starting to figure out what I liked about music, which bands were “my bands”. I had a Kiss album. A Foreigner album. Don’t judge. It was the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. If you weren’t into disco (which I wasn’t), then these were the bands you found. Especially since I was doing the searching mostly on my own. My Aunt who was about 8 years older had given me the Allman Brother’s “Eat a Peach”, but at 16 or 17, I could not wrap my head around it. She also gave me The Eagles Greatest Hits, and I knew I had something there. I probably wore out the grooves on “Best of My Love”. So this was it. The Eagles were the first band I called “mine”. By then it was about 1980. The band had already decided to break up. So I was left to explore their catalog.
All these memories came flooding back this week after I learned that Glenn Frey had died. Frey’s smooth vocals on songs like “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, “New Kid in Town” and “Take it Easy” were the soundtrack of my high school days that began in New Jersey and finished in California. So, The Eagles prepared my head for the move west. Just as Glenn moved on, so did I. I found Bruce Springsteen and he completely blew my mind. But The Eagles were never far from my ears or my car stereo. I’d experiment with other music in the ’80’s, British New Wave, Hair Metal, Classic British Rock. When Glenn released his first solo record after The Eagles break-up, No Fun Aloud, I snapped it right up and loved every song. I transferred it to cassette using my Radio Shack compact stereo and kept it with me for months, listening to how he had moved beyond the California country sound to more of the Blue Eyed Soul he grew up with in Detroit.
I went to see him at the Universal Amphitheater on the No Fun Aloud tour and loved every minute of the concert. Glenn knew we wanted to hear Eagles songs in addition to his new stuff and he didn’t disappoint. Then as I moved through college, Glenn stepped into a brighter spotlight. “The Heat is On” from Beverly Hills Cop blew up huge and cemented his talent and his legacy. After college I got a job and tried to be cool like Don Johnson on Miami Vice. Glenn was cool because he was on Miami Vice! After that, I became more and more obsessed with Springsteen and left a lot of other music from my youth behind. That included Glenn Frey and The Eagles. But every once in a while I would hear “Hotel California” on the radio and now that I had an iPod I went back to my first love and immersed myself in nostalgia. That would happen over and over again as the years went by.
When I heard about The Eagles reunion tour and new album I was interested, but no longer excited about it. I don’t know if I had become jaded or “too cool” for that kind of music, but I greeted it with a “meh”. Then I read Michael Walker’s “Laurel Canyon”, about the music scene in the iconic canyon in the mid ’60’s and early ’70’s. A scene that was where The Eagles got their start. Again, I downloaded 2 CD’s (always Greatest Hits and Hotel California) onto my iPod and dove in. Once again I got bored or distracted and moved on.
So when the news came Monday that Glenn had passed away it was a shock and a gut punch. I’m not diminishing the import of Lou Reed or David Bowie or Lemmy or any other rocker that seemed to die too early. I liked their music a lot. But none had the timeless connection to my life that Glenn Frey did. So once again I grabbed my iPhone and found my 2 go to Eagles albums and started listening. This time with a lot more melancholy. And even a few tears in my eyes.