The Eagles Have Landed... At No. 1
Author: Simon Cosyns
Publication: The Sun (London)
Date: November 10, 2007
Abstract: The band talks about Long Road Out of Eden and how things have changed.
As a founder member of the EAGLES, GLENN FREY lived life in the fastest lane, joining his bandmates in “throwing the greatest travelling party of the Seventies”.
If you thought LED ZEPPELIN were the undisputed kings of wild excess, you haven’t heard the story of the West Coast’s country-rock superstars.
At Eagles shows, there used to be two regular encores of two songs. The fabled “third encore” amounted to inviting a select group of girls back to their hotel rooms — no boyfriends allowed!
Today, there’s another reason to celebrate the Eagles.
Their first studio album in 28 years is an epic 96-minute double album called Long Road Out Of Eden — and has just beaten that modern fast-liver BRITNEY SPEARS to No1 on both sides of the Atlantic.
It’s the band’s first UK No1 in their 36-year history and an incredible, belated continuation of a run that saw them become America’s biggest-selling band of all time, remembered for sublime harmony singing on Take It Easy, Lyin’ Eyes and Take It To The Limit.
Their Greatest Hits: 1971-1975 has sold a staggering 41million copies worldwide, their classic album Hotel California around 25 million.
But hopping on and off Lear jets, consuming vast quantities of chemicals and being feted around the globe came with a price. By 1980 the band imploded in a tangle of acrimony.
Don Henley, the main lyricist, singer and drummer, once said the Eagles would only get back together “If hell freezes over.”
But time proved a great healer, with a comeback tour kicking off in 1994 and now a new album which they began making all of six years ago.
Today, Glenn comes over as a charming, clean-living sort of bloke, a devoted family man nearing 60 but with a real spring in his step.
As my interview with the Eagles gets under way, he mildly complains about having too much Coke. Diet Coke, that is.
He is joined at a West London hotel by bassist and singer Timothy B Schmit.
Clearly delighted with this new chapter in the band’s history, Glenn says: “We’re so lucky. We are still alive, for one thing, from all the past to present members. We are one of the only bands from our era who can say that.”
And despite all the huge past successes, Timothy believes being No1 again is “really pretty great.”
Glenn adds: “We’re thrilled the album has been well received here in England. I think it’s a good indication for us to go on longer and keep performing.
“We may need a few more days off. We may have to cut our shows down from three-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours, but we can still do this.”
The passing of time has helped them deal with tension with far more common sense than in the early days.
As the final show before the 1980 split came shuddering to an end, Glenn heard former guitarist Don Felder say: “Only three more songs until I kick your butt, pal.”
Then Don spotted Glenn making a similar gesture to him, just as they began The Best Of My Love. The charity gig at Long Beach, California became known as Long Night At Wrong Beach.
But Glenn says: “Nowadays we’re doing better than ever in a lot of ways. We’ve learned to take breaks, to step back. For myself, I think having a wife and kids has taught me that the Eagles is a family.
"Basically we all love each other. We don’t always get along. We aren’t all necessarily having a great day and we don’t always agree but we’ve learned to handle problems a lot better and we all care about each other. It’s about making yourself adjust and we’ve found a way to make it work.”
Timothy says: “We spent a lot of time together making this record so it’s important we get a break from each other.”
But he adds: “I think all of us had similar dreams when we were young and picked up guitars — dreams of doing well, making records, being on the radio — but I don’t think any of us could have imagined that this would have happened to us. I think we need to be grateful for it now.”
Long Road Out Of Eden dwells on political and personal themes, from huge issues such as the war in Iraq and American imperialism to mundane irritations such as who has left the cap off the toothpaste.
Don Henley explains that the ten-minute title track approaches modern America from a different angle.
He says: “We wanted to make a statement about empire. If you look back to the Roman empire or the Ottoman empire, you’ll see they always fall. It never really works out in the end. It always crumbles to dust.”
Timothy says the song speaks of their fears for their kids in a war-torn world, adding: “We have boys who must grow up in this world.
“If they decide to bring selective service back again, then we have to contemplate our kids having to do this horrible thing without choice.”
Another song, It’s Your World Now, finds Don beseeching his children to “be part of something good and to leave something good behind”.
He says: “They are the most important lyrics on this entire album. That’s the message we wanted to leave for our children, for everybody, really.”
With lines such as “The curtain falls/I take my bow/That’s how it’s meant to be/It’s Your World Now,” it might seem that this album is the Eagles’ last stand.
Don says: “This may well be our last album — but never say never.”
Above all, the band wanted to capture the signature Eagles sound.
Glenn says: “There was a time early on when we didn’t know what our record was supposed to sound like but we knew people just wanted to hear us sing.
“There’s something unique about Don and Timothy and me singing together. We made that our criteria.
"Rather than say, ‘Shall we have a bluesy song?’ or ‘Shall we have a rock song?’ or ‘Is this too country?’ we concentrated on ‘Does this sound like an Eagles song?’
“The album’s length wasn’t a problem because all four band members made songwriting contributions and were able to showcase their musical versatility.
“We have four lead singers, so that helps. We can change voices and all our voices can come in on the choruses so that helped with a long record. I called our manager and asked how many minutes you can put on a single CD, and the answer was 78 or something.
“I was thinking, ‘Well, we’re blowing right through this’ and a couple of tracks were really long so we decided to put it all out there.”
Finally, by coincidence, I saw the Eagles in Nashville this week at the Country Music Association awards, performing new single How Long.
As the huge crowd rose as one for a standing ovation, it was obvious that America and the world are mighty glad to have the biggest-selling band in the world making another glorious stand.