There’s no cheating in music.

Why did we want to play music? The Beatles. Sure, everybody in the U.K. picked up an axe to escape the factory, but in middle class America we bought Fenders because we wanted to be just like the Fab Four, we wanted the music to come out of us, we wanted the girls to fawn all over us.

And soon there was a schism. Started in 1967, although one can argue the Beatles began it even earlier, with “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver”. Suddenly, it was no longer about the one hit wonder. It was about the statement. Created by people who’d paid their dues. The original British Invasion was over, replaced by a plethora of players who could truly do just that, expatriate Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, all the FM staples.  They had one thing in common, they could play.

Their stories were all the same. They bought records and practiced in their basements and bedrooms until they were good enough to get a gig. And then they gigged long enough until someone noticed them. And then they got a chance. And some of them broke through.

That’s a long hard road. That’s not like Snooki getting on “The Jersey Shore”, or Kim Kardashian getting enough plastic surgery to look like a Barbie Doll. There’s no short cut. And you’re starting from scratch.  How many of those bankers would be rich if they couldn’t start out at the aforementioned Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley? Never forget, Steve Jobs started out in his basement. Without rich parents or a college degree. Just passion and hustle.

Jobs was just like the musicians, only he was peddling tech, not tunes. Still the sky was the limit.

A friend e-mailed me a video of the Eagles on the BBC. My jaw dropped. –

It was like being transported back in time. Better than “Almost Famous”, better than reading about it in “Rolling Stone”, this was exactly it.

The clip begins with “Train Leaves Here This Morning”. But what’s stunning is the band is sitting on stools singing all the music. “ALL” the music. There’s no one in the background, nothing on tape. And the harmonies are ALMOST perfect. And when something is almost perfect it’s just like life itself. Perfection is not human.

And Bernie Leadon is wearing a UCLA t-shirt. I don’t think he thought much about it. It was probably at the top of his suitcase, or the only clean thing he had. You see it wasn’t about the look but the music.

When Glenn Frey sings about sleeping in the desert tonight you know why all the girls ran to grab their sleeping bags. We’ve been hearing how Glenn was so cool for years, how he was a ladykiller. You get it here, it’s not the “Miami Vice” guy hyping gyms, it’s that guy on the couch who you can’t wait to zip apart, who you can’t wait to get inside of you.

This is a band. Remember bands? They rehearsed until they got it right. And when you get it right you’re undeniable. People clamor to sign you.  Not because you’re making the music on the radio but because you’re making music so GOOD!

And there are some snide comments. How do bands stay together?

Actually, they don’t. Because one person can no longer take it. You might say to not quit but musicians aren’t looking for security they’re following their muse.

And when Randy Meisner sings “A Certain Kind Of Fool” you see him smiling, and then what comes out of his mouth…WHERE DID HE GET THAT VOICE?  How does it sound so right?  He’s like a choirboy having sex for the very first time. You get why we needed to get close. You don’t want to have dinner with Lloyd Blankfein, but you can’t wait to just be in the VICINITY of your favorite musician.

And Bernie’s guitar has got that distortion that’s just a bit different from the studio, which is why you go to the show, because it’s just a little bit different, it’s a one time only performance.

And Glenn is playing lead. There’s no hired hand. And he can DO IT!

And when Bernie picks his banjo at the beginning of “Earlybird”…how’d he get that good? PRACTICE! You remember practice, don’t you? All the Olympic athletes do it. And standing in front of the mirror perfecting your ‘do is not practice!

And when you hear Henley sing “Witchy Woman”…it takes you right back to the first time you heard it only that the sound reminded you of times when anything could happen, both good and bad.

Still, it’s got nothing to do with any specific notes, although it does have a lot to do with the songs. They wrote ’em. And they weren’t their first.

But what is striking is the fact that you’re watching a band. A living, breathing thing. Something that developed. Something that exists in the minds of the players, not the label.

This is the way it used to be. Inspired journeymen woodshedded to the point where they established a vision. And then they rode that vision to unknown places. Watching this ’73 show you can’t see “Hotel California” in the future, but it happened.

They’re impossibly skinny. They’re not dancing. A stylist would be yearning to clean them up. As would an engineer. But you can’t clean up live. It’s messy. But it’s so SATISFYING!

I don’t care if you hate the Eagles, you’ve got to watch this show. Because this is how it used to be. Create a 24 hour cable channel with all this heretofore unexposed greatness and watch catalog sales explode.

This is not “Glee”, this is not covers. This is not a tribute. This is like stumbling upon the Dead Sea Scrolls.  And you’re yearning to know the backstory. How did they come up with this shit? Did they practice the harmonies? Did they get along? How do you write a song?

They watched the Beatles and formed the Eagles.

We watched the Eagles and…

And when you’re that good you write your own rule book. You become so successful that you tell the label the way it’s gonna be. The agents and promoters work for you. Money and sex and drugs rain down. Because you’re delivering life. People want to be closer to you, you just  can’t get enough.

Goldman Sachs is not building America, one can argue strongly it’s destroying it. And at the center, all there is is money, nothing real. But you can be broke and still sing “Take It Easy”. And when you lower the car window and put your elbow on the sill while the radio blasts your favorite song you feel more alive than when you’re at the bank, you’re right where you want to be.

I don’t know if these days will ever return. It was so hard to get noticed. But there were fewer people vying for attention. And radio was about music, not commercials. And it wasn’t bad if you looked good, but you hardly were ever seen. At best, from a distance, at the show.

But you went to the show. You had to. Just like you drank and ate. There was no choice. And although there were programs and t-shirts, they were only on sale because fans needed totems, tangible representations of the experience. Because the music was enough. ~ B.L.


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