November 6, 2018
In mid-August 2018, this compilation of 10 ‘greatest hits’ regained its spot as the biggest selling U.S. album ever. Of the ten songs, six were co-written by the duo whose voices brought the tunes to life and propelled the group to international fame. That group is the Eagles and the musicians: Glenn Frey and Don Henley.
November 6, 2018 would have been Frey’s 70th birthday. Frey was born, and grew up, in Detroit. His musical inclinations showed themselves early as he took piano lessons at age five. He later switched to guitar and became a part of the mid-1960’s local rock and roll scene of southern Michigan. It was when he made his way to Southern California where, according to the Infallible Wikipedia:
“Frey met drummer Don Henley in 1970. They were signed to the same label, Amos Records, at that time and both spent time at the Troubadour. When Linda Ronstadt needed a backup band for an upcoming tour, her manager John Boylan hired Frey because he needed someone who could play rhythm guitar and sing. Don Henley was approached by Frey to join Ronstadt. Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon were also hired, although as the backing band personnel changed through the tour, the four had only played once together at a gig at Disneyland. Frey and Henley decided to form a band together while on the tour, and they were joined by Meisner on bass and Leadon on guitar, banjo, steel guitar, mandolin and dobro, forming the Eagles, with Frey playing guitar and keyboards and Henley playing drums. The band went on to become one of the world’s best-selling groups of all time.”
Commercial success arrived in 1972 with the release of their self-titled album and the single “Take It Easy.” In that song we were introduced to their unique sound and the easy to listen to voice of Frey. It was also one of Frey’s earliest compositions, co-written with Jackson Browne. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:
Browne told a version of the story in a radio interview: “I knew Glenn Frey from playing these clubs – we kept showing up at the same clubs and singing on the open-mic nights. Glenn happened to come by to say ‘hi,’ and to hang around when I was in the studio, and I showed him the beginnings of that song, and he asked if I was going to put it on my record and I said it wouldn’t be ready in time. He said ‘well, we’ll put it on, we’ll do it,’ ’cause he liked it,” Browne explained. “But it wasn’t finished, and he kept after me to finish it, and finally offered to finish it himself. And after a couple of times when I declined to have him finish my song, I said, ‘all right.’ I finally thought, ‘This is ridiculous. Go ahead and finish it. Do it.’ And he finished it in spectacular fashion. And, what’s more, arranged it in a way that was far superior to what I had written.”
Frey’s talent was indisputable and unstoppable. Along with Henley – and also J.D. Souther and Randy Meisner on two of the songs – he co-wrote the following which are on their Greatest Hits album: Desperado, Tequila Sunrise, Lyin’ Eyes, One of These Nights, Take It To The Limit, and Best of My Love.
In all, Frey co-wrote 35 songs and achieved success as a solo artist after the group took a ‘vacation’ from one another in 1980 until they reunited in 1994.
Their Greatest Hits CD has been a part of my ‘hitchhiker’ collection for the past 10 years now. What, you are no doubt wondering, is the ‘hitchhiker’ collection? When I started making the frequent trips to Yakima to help with my parents, I put together a shoebox of CD’s to listen to while I drove. Over time, CD’s were added or removed depending on my mood. What I discovered is that there were about 10 to 15 CD’s that are never removed. Ever. Chief among them is the Eagles Greatest Hits.
I have been known to post on Facebook that I picked up a hitchhiker to keep me company during the drive. The reactions the first time I posted I had done so were hilarious as people were appalled I would do such a dangerous thing. But soon everyone figured it out and were proffering guesses as to ‘who’ they were. For the Eagles it might read “Glenn and Don got in at Ellensburg and kept me entertained clear to the top of the pass when they got out and Carly hopped in.”
One thing is certain, however, every song on that Eagle’s CD is a winner and it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. That said, there is one which I love just a tiny bit more than the others. That would be “Desperado.” What’s your most loved Eagles song?
So as a bonus today you get not one, but two classic hits from the Eagles. Here’s the second one. Enjoy.
As always, a couple of links: