Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Part Where Mackenzie Hates Me, But I Need a Break From Husker Rumors

By the way, has anyone noticed that a band that isn't new just automatically gets 3/12 stars from Rolling Stone? And this guy's favorite song on the thing is the one that's over TEN minutes long, and could someday be considered a masterpiece. Or not. I'm still undecided on it. Anyhow, I'll come back to this later, but let's just say the Eagles have put out a new album of 20 songs that is actually...well...GOOD???!!!! Oh there's 20 songs, which means they can't all be hits, but the stuff that's good (read: All the Henley stuff) is outstanding, and I stand stunned, proud, happy, and have to remain relatively quiet until October 30th about the whole thing so I'm going to let Bob Lefsetz, one of the most respected people in music, tell you all about. A few things first:
  • Got to see Wilco in concert last Saturday night, outdoors in a beautiful setting in Kansas City. I don't care what anyone says, this is a band that you need to see live. Tweedy spends too much time trying to be cute and creative in the studio on some shit, but when they roll out everything live, it's an incredible show. It was one of the greatest concerts I've ever attended (it was at a place called the Crossroads in KC). Tweedy has an incredibly funny and dry sense of humor, especially since he realized on that night that he was up against the opening of the much ballyhooed Sprint Center, which was christened by Elton John, and where Garth Brooks is about to play (and I'm not making this up) NINE (9) concerts there in November. I got in on a VIP pass to the show (remember, it's not what you know but who you know), with the promise that, "Hey, I'm probably not going to be able to get you backstage to meet the guys, but here's four 5th row center seats and you won't need to pay for any beer tonight." I got to relive the excitement that I saw from some of their live performances in their underrated movie, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. BTW, am I the only person who thinks poor Jay Bennett was just some guy played by Philip Seymour Hoffman that movie? I saw at that somebody compared him to Hoffman's character in Boogie Nights. Why this isn't explored more is beyond me. But it's one of the greatest scenes in the movie when he can't believe he got fired, and it's almost comical. But I digress, you get a chance to go see Wilco, do it right away because they know how to put on an incredible rock show and Tweedy, although not the greatest frontman in the world, has that sly wit that keeps you begging for more. And oh by the way, a band couldn't be more in sync.
  • I have a really, really good Tony Gonzalez story I'd like to tell Mac in person before I share with the rest of the world. It's what us in the business like to call a "TEASE."

  • Lucky me -- I find my way to Lincoln for approximately an hour. I find somebody who knows BsmokedTurkey. I beg of her, "Please have him update his blog more, NOW!" She swore the next move in her life would be to talk to her.

And yes, for the record, I think the above picture was doctored. It's OK, in life, not everyone loves each other, that'st the way it goes, but when there's a shitload of dimes to be made, sins are forgiven. OK, now I'm giving the floor to Music Industry legend Bob Lefsetz. I'll be more than happy to share all "Good" songs with those in my "family", but for good sakes, a 20 song 2-disc CD is only $10.99. Who cares. Go Bob:


So, I'm at the skin doctor, having some suspicious growths removed, and when I'm done with Dr. Rish, I've got a message on my BlackBerry, a phone call from Irving Azoff. Where should he send the new EAGLES album?

Oh, you know how it is today. LEAKS! I had to promise that I wouldn't duplicate it, wouldn't give it to anybody. NO PROBLEM! I'M TRUSTWORTHY!

I was in Century City getting a new keyboard for my Mac. Thank god for Applecare. Wanna know where it's happening? At the Apple Store. You've got to slalom through the people. And the new Lilliputian Nanos? They're IMPOSSIBLY thin. You want to buy one, no matter HOW MANY iPods you already have.

And Irving said Irene would call, for an address. But as I was buying jeans at the Gap, I'd still heard nothing. I e-mailed Irving. Just leave the disc behind the screen door, messenger it over NOW!

The phone rang. They couldn't do that. But by this time I was already home. They'd send it over.

And I've been waiting for the delivery man ever since. I was getting worried he wouldn't come, that I'd get the package tomorrow.

But, just now, I saw a guy with tattoos through the front window. I opened the door, was he from IRVING?

Irving told me the packaging wasn't perfect. That Henley wanted some of the early covers destroyed, the tiny percentage that didn't have the color right. Looked fine to me, I wouldn't have complained.

And after removing the shrinkwrap with the Wal-Mart sticker, I turn the cardboard package over and see the TWENTY TRACKS ON 2 CDs!

And then I open my computer drawer and insert disc one...

I remember dropping the needle on "Hotel California". Buying the album the day it came out, before anything but "New Kid In Town" was on the radio. I did a double take as the sound came out of the speakers. The same thing JUST HAPPENED! Oh, the sweet SOUND! How could it sound THIS GOOD? NOTHING sounds this good. Everything's squashed today. But this was just like 1976, I felt the group was living RIGHT INSIDE THE SPEAKERS.

The harmonies, this one certain change in "No More Walks In The Wood"... If you had that spirit back in 1969, you'll get it.

The second cut is the single, "How Long". And then came "Busy Being Fabulous".

You remember "Life In The Fast Lane", don't you? Surely make you lose your mind. A feeling we were all familiar with, a scene we knew, the Eagles nailed it, the phrase soon became part of the vernacular.

How come the EAGLES, thirty five years old, can skewer stardom, aligning with our sensibilities here in the cheap seats, and everybody on the hit parade, the rappers to the popsters, think we're buying their shit, think we believe they're fabulous?

When Henley starts to sing, you hear that voice from "The Long Run". It's like it's 1979 all over again.

"I came home to an empty house and I found your little note:
'Don't wait up for me tonight', and that was all she wrote
Do you think I don't know that you're out on the town with all of your high-rollin' friends?
But, what do you do when you come up empty? Where do you go when the party ends?

You were just too busy being fabulous
Too busy to think about us
I don't know what you were dreaming of
Somehow you forgot about love
And you were just too busy being fabulous, uh-huh"

Famous does not make your life work. Might get you laid, but won't get you in a relationship. You've got to be three-dimensional, you've got to be a human being, you've got to be trustworthy. But none of the youngsters singing seem to know this. This is why we loved our acts, THEIR TRUTH! Maybe Don sowed his wild oats, but he grew up. JUST LIKE US!

I've got no idea what the other seventeen tracks sound like. I couldn't get that far, I couldn't wait to e-mail you.

It's not about digesting music, thinking about it. It's about the VISCERAL RESPONSE! Ten minutes in and I'm suddenly linked to who I was back when. I feel like I'm not alone on this earth. I feel like I'm ALIVE!

It's not about airplay, it's not about sales numbers, it's not even about Wal-Mart. It's about music. How does the MUSIC make you feel. The music hasn't been emphasized in such a long time. And, it doesn't matter if you get off on what I do. We don't all have the same crush, we're not all in love with the same person. But, if you were ever an Eagles fan, when you drop the metaphorical needle on "Long Road Out Of Eden", your mind will be positively blown.

(This is where Bob talks about divorce and how this song ties it all up and how we all pray to live through it if God forbid you go through it):

I'm in a relationship now. With another person who's been wounded. We're trying to make our parts mesh. But we're burdened by too many bad experiences, there are constantly misunderstandings. But we persevere. Because that's what we have in common, commitment and dedication. I'm leaving my old life behind. But at moments it creeps back in. Like in the mountains only an hour ago.

I was listening to the new Eagles album on my iPod and I heard this song, "Waiting In The Weeds". It spoke of hope, or rather the evaporation thereof.

"I don't know when I realized the dream was over Well, there was no particular hour, no given day You know, it didn't go down in flame There was no final scene, no frozen frame I just watched it slowly fade away"

I thought the fact we weren't divorced meant we had a chance of getting back together, that was my ace in the hole. Sometimes the ace is not the highest card in the deck. I think I just realized the dream was over. It's about bonding with someone new. But the dream faded so slowly.

"And I've been waiting in the weeds Waiting for the dust to settle down Along the back roads, running through the fields Lying on the outskirts of this lonesome town And I imagine sunlight in your hair You're at the county fair You're holding hands and laughing And now, the Ferris wheel has stopped You're swinging on the top, suspended there with him"

I didn't run into her at the fair, but the Pier. With her new guy, who seemed to have no idea who I was. She seemed uncomfortable, she wanted nothing to do with me. She asked me if I had any money. And then she was gone. "I've been stumbling through some dark places But I'm following the plow I know I've fallen out of your good graces But it's all right now"

Shortly thereafter, we instituted divorce proceedings. The six month waiting period was eerie. Then the day arrived, and I was free. I've been to some dark places. I hope you haven't been. But I'm beginning to believe it's the human condition. Try to hang on, do what you need to get through. Try to avoid numbing the pain. Rely on your friends. If you can just hang on, you can get through. At least that's the way I see it.

(Bob can get really in touch with music, but about that epic title song...)

The first track on the second disc of the new Eagles album is a ten minute epic. You won’t hear it on the radio. Certainly not during the morning, when the zoo is open for business and the animals are out. And not during drive time, when the commercials need to be squeezed in. And the band is neither fish nor fowl, neither pop nor country. There’s nowhere for them to fit.

And those stereos we bought back then. They’ve been replaced by home theatres. We’ve got all the porn we can eat on our computer screens, but we listen via tiny little speakers. The old temples of worship are long gone. Those rooms with giant JBLs, ready to blow your hair back like in that Maxell ad.

And you wonder why we’re in shit shape. We’ve lost our infrastructure, we can’t even decipher the tablets handed down to us.

You can go to an Eagles show and relive the seventies. But they were never about live. The Eagles were about records. Home, at a friend’s house, as a friend rolled a joint in an album cover and the music came pouring out of the speakers. One of these nights, that’s for sure.

This isn’t about the cult of celebrity. This isn’t about whether you approve of Don Henley. This is about whether you BELIEVE! In the power of music, in brotherhood. Or are you just out for yourself, living in a gated community, keeping the riff-raff out? Is it somebody else’s problem, or yours?

I can tell you, it’s OURS!

Those are the questions. I’d like to tell you I have the answers. I don’t. But the questions came to my brain while I was listening to the title track of the new Eagles album. The music set my mind free. It didn’t make me dance. Didn’t only make me think about my libido. It made me ponder this fucked up world we live in.

Don’t tell me our hands are tied. Don’t tell me you can’t care. Don’t tell me about major labels. I d
on’t give a shit what Rapino thinks, Barry Diller either.
Doug Morris can kiss my fucking ass. Jimmy Iovine can follow the dollar off into the sunset for all I care.

It’s not about any of these fucks. It’s about the musicians. And one good thing about this post-Napster era is the bands are now free to follow their own muse, do it their own way. Maybe we can get back to where we once belonged.

Or do you have to lose a loved one. Or your house. Or your pension. What has to happen for you to be motivated?

Sure, musicians need to get paid. But if that’s why they’re doing it, the music sucks. Art is a higher calling. Don’t listen to the President, listen to the records. Find someone who’s saying something. Tune in, and drop in.

Start with "Long Road To Eden". You’ll hear the darkness and despair. It’ll motivate you to DO SOMETHING!

We’re all in this together. It’s about time everybody realized this. My generation stopped a war. We have the power. And with the music alongside us, we’re UNBEATABLE!

Weaving down the American highway
Through the litter and the wreckage and the cultural junk
Bloated with entitlement; loaded on propaganda
And now we’re driving dazed and drunk
Been down the road to Damascus, the road to Mandalay
Met the ghost of Caesar on the Appian Way
He said, ‘It’s hard to stop this bingeing, once you get a taste’‘
But the road to empire is a bloody, stupid waste’
Behold the bitten apple - the power of the toolsBut all the knowledge in the world is of no use to fools
And it’s a long road out of Eden

1 comment:

BSmokedTurkey said...

That message made its way back to me. While Mary couldn't remember your name, her description of you as "this guy who had a comment for everything" gave you away instantly. She did offer the qualifier that you "seemed nice enough."

Sky Blue Sky is a little too downtempo for me. I like my Wilco in the range of Heavy Metal Drummer and I Must Be High.