Such A Lovely Place.

Posted: May 17, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As I’ve mentioned in previous writings, I grew up in California; born in the mid-60s, my cultural awareness started in the early 70s. By the time I reached junior high school in 1978, I was familiar with a wide variety of music. Mom was into the Stones, Janis Joplin and classical, while Dad loved jazz and country – not the bullshit that’s passing for country today – the real stuff, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Don Williams. In the car, most of the non-Spanish language stations were AM pop which, for my money, was the Golden Age of pop music. So, I’m pretty well rounded when it comes to music.

When I was in junior high, I also began attending a Christian church, a precursor to the so-called mega churches of today, and in the special junior high Sunday School group, they counseled us endlessly on the evils of secular music, how KISS was an acronym for Knights In Satan’s Service, how Santana was just another way of saying Satan, and that Supertramp was going to Hell for that passage in Goodbye Stranger where the singer says the Devil is his savior, never mind that the lyrics are taken completely out of context and the real meaning of the song is entirely different.

In other words, us impressionable kids were being taught about the evils of the world, via pop music, by a bunch of fucking idiots.

However, no band was held in lower regard for their wholesale embracing of darkness and evil than…The Eagles. Because Hotel California is totally about Hell and what an awesome place it is, and also because of the infamous back cover photo and the ultimate evil it beheld: the shadowy visage of Satan and/or Anton LaVey, the legendary eccentric and founder of the Church of Satan, and with whom I coincidentally share a birthday.

Seriously.

Seriously.

I want to add that many years later, I actually met Anton LaVey at a gun show in San Francisco, and for what it’s worth, he was a cordial, nice, and genuinely funny guy. The thing is, when you forbid a bunch of pre-teen boys something that’s so bloody evil, that’s exactly where they’re going to end up. So we listened to the album, basking in the glow of all that evil, much to the consternation of our Sunday School teachers who were, as I’ve previously mentioned, a bunch of fucking idiots.

This was also a source of serious concern.

The upshot is that the very people who were trying to condemn The Eagles were the ones responsible for my knowing of them. Being the 1970s, in California, The Eagles were exceedingly popular. They were all over the radio, with their kickback songs of about takin’ it to the limit while takin’ it easy, having a Tequila Sunrise with the New Kid in Town, while livin’ in the fast lane with a Desperado who was a Victim of Love and thought it all might be Wasted Time. The Eagles’ Greatest Hits is the third best-selling album in music history, beaten only by Thriller and Dark Side of the Moon.

So…I was an Eagles fan. I owned The Long Run and their live album, and as time went on, their music became a staple of the local rock and classic rock stations, sowing their seeds of cynicism and the deep bummer of being globetrotting, cocaine-fueled rock stars. I never really thought much about it; my buddies liked The Eagles (I bailed on the church thing pretty quickly), and I gave the matter little thought.

Except that years later, I realized that I was switching channels whenever an Eagles song came on the radio. When Hotel California started playing somewhere, I mentally counted back the number of days that had passed since the last time I’d heard Hotel California (a number which rarely went into double digits). Obviously something was amiss, but then something miraculous happened. But first, a digression.

By the late 1990s, the Coen Brothers had solidly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the film industry. Since Blood Simple, their 1984 debut, they had given audiences Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, and Fargo. My love for their work and their highly stylized filmmaking marked them as true originals. In 1998, however, they released The Big Lebowski, a movie which, I admit, I just didn’t get at the time. Truth be told, I don’t understand the enormity of its cult following, except perhaps the stoners out there find a hero of sorts in Jeff Lebowski, a man-child who lives in a dumpy LA apartment, flakes on his rent, and has to bounce a check for a carton of milk. Whatever; I’m not judging. In the years since, I’ve warmed to the film considerably, seeing it as a sort of existentialist mystery, an LA story, and a meditation on weed, bowling, and whatever else; possibly nothing at all. However, what stuck with me from the start was one line in the movie. One line.

With that, my mind was blown. Somehow, I had never realized that, despite all the airplay, despite the record sales, that there might actually be people who didn’t like The Eagles, that it was even possible. Somehow, I just figured it was part of living here; that we were all fans by default. It simply never dawned on me that we had any choice in the matter. I realize this makes me look not terribly bright, but that’s the truth of it. It took The Dude for me to see the light.

I hate The Eagles. I hate their tepid, mediocre, soulless country-rock, I hate their world-weariness, their intellectual posturing, their gutless riding of Gram Parsons’ coattails, the idiot disco of One of These Nights, their cover of Tom Waits’ Ol’ 55 (how dare they!), the pissy infighting of spoiled millionaire rock stars that led to the breakup, Glenn Frey’s entire shitheaded solo career, and their inevitable reunion tours. But mostly, it’s the music: an coworker recently told me that the reason I don’t like The Eagles is because musically, they’re just not challenging. “You hear a song of theirs once, and you’ve heard everything there is to hear,” she told me. “There’s nothing beneath the surface, no subtext, no deeper meaning.”

And thus The Dude showed me the truth. Hell, I don’t even have to have a reason to hate the Eagles; I can hate them like I hate Foreigner and U2 for the simple reason that they just suck.

That’s my story.

 

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