David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 103: The Eagles (Already Gone)

August 7, 2020

A few years ago when SMC had its fiftieth anniversary, we hired a Journey Tribute Band. I remember thinking, "there are dudes out there who are willing to do nothing but go around and perform as another band?" It blew my mind.  They were pretty good, so it's not that they couldn't do Journey justice, it just seemed like such a strange dedication. What do they say when they meet people? "Hi, I am a Steve Perry Tribute."  Might bring a whole new interest to The Hunger Games?

But my focus today isn't Journey, although as much as Pandora plays them (I have recently started listening to Pandora), it seems inevitable. No, today is about The Eagles.

Just over a hundred days into this series, and I have already taken a couple of pot shots at Henley, Frey and the boys: the random poke in the eyes with Phil Collins resembling the nerd air guitaring to "Hotel California" in a boy's locker room; the blind side hit with the Rolling Stones' manager allowing "Dead Flowers" to be played (without compensation) in The Big Lebowski because "The Dude" hates The Eagles. It's not like I don't like Eagles' songs. I own both Greatest Hits on CD, and had both Hotel California and The Long Run on album. (I even own Long Road Out Of Eden on CD, but that was a gift, and a little heard gift, so I discount it for any point I might make about the band.) Fairly or unfairly, if they were going to be designated as America's greatest band, I needed to point out that it was appropriate given the hypocrisy of some of their criticism of lifestyles some of them embraced.

However, there is one song that is easily my favorite Eagles' song: "Already Gone." So, when I heard it on Pandora, I figured I had my Eagles' song for this series.  Went looking the song up online to think through an angle, and found Already Gone as the name of an Eagles Tribute band.  From that link, see the description that says "Already Gone" is "the South's premier Eagles Tribute Band."  What, is there more than one in the freaking South?  Is there a premier one for the West? How many Eagles tribute bands have been let loose across the country, across the world?  (I hope the appeal is limited in Pakistan.) Recognize that in some ways, these tribute bands are more honest than the fake Vogue bands touring the country, but what kind of personality is willing to admit he (or she) is openly playing someone else?

Then how do these multiple Eagles tribute bands choose their names?  Do the members of Already Gone have "news for you" that they ain't gonna be "put up on a shelf?" Do they "look up in the sky" and "see the stars" and "still not see the light?" If I want to be particularly snarky, I would argue that they haven't seen the light, and that their "victory song" is pretty hollow: you are pretending to be someone else!

However, I will give them credit for staying away from the bigger hits. I refuse to look them up, but you know there has to be a tribute band (trademarked) "Hotel California."  If you really want to promote the hedonistic lifestyle that I sometimes can't avoid associating with The Eagles, go with "Life In The Fast Lane." ("Hi, we're "Life in the Fast Lane," we're going to now play "Peaceful, Easy Feeling.") You know there is a Tequila Sunrise band, probably sharing top billing with a band called Margaritaville.

Some of the non-hits would draw out people like me. I know I'd pay to see The Disco Stranglers, and might surreptously sneak in to see Pretty Maids All In A Row.

But let's get back to "Already Gone," the song, not the tributes. I never realized until today that this was not written by an Eagle, but instead "lent" to The Eagles by Jack Tempchin and Robb Strandlund.  I guess tributes of relatively unknown dudes were being taken well before Already Gone, the band, existed. With its infectious guitar riff, it rocks as much as any Eagles' song, especially in the moments of counterpoint. Glenn Frey and Don Felder offer dueling guitar solos that preview the famous guitar sparring between Felder and Joe Walsh on "Hotel California" a few years later.

Through it all, we have the fantastic harmonies that defined the best work of The Eagles, especially as the song moves toward its conclusion. Randy Meisner's voice reaching incredible heights, guitars ripping, and my favorite moment, Frey singing "all right, nighty night." 

So I end this blog torn. I have committed myself to The Eagles (I know it seems hard to believe, but when this is all said and done, someone is going to say, "you did 365 of these and never once did a ____ song?") and yet I worry about being committed with anyone who is willing to spend half of his days (maybe more) as a Don Henley Tribute, especially if you represent District 11. You're no "Wolfmarch Redpath," dude. 

"Already Gone." The Eagles. On The Border.  Asylum. 1974. Link here.

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Day 104: James "Extraordinary Times."->

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