Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"...And Tequila Sunrise Was A Popular Drink, But That Doesn't Matter, Either...."

Old saying in the song business.

Pop music fans are loyal to the music.

Country music fans are loyal to the singer.

The packaged for quick consumption interpretation of those two observations goes like this.

Fans of pop music tend to remember the songs, the lyrics, the melodies, the groove, the beat, the feel, the overall presentation and/or any and all of those parts that make up the whole. And, if along the way, they happen to remember who it was who wrote/recorded/played on and/or sang on that particular song, then it's considered informational gravy.

Fans of country music, meanwhile, attach their affections and their allegiances to the performer. And they remain fans of that performer long after the material that said performer is cranking out has faded in quality to a point that is hardly deserving of notice, let alone praise.

It's been said, for example, that, in his heyday, Garth Brooks could have recorded and released a recitation of two pages of the local phone book set to music and it would have gone multi platinum.

That's actually stretching the truth.

But not stretching it much.

Meanwhile, a host of pop hits through the years remain popular, even legendary, although, if asked, those who still hold those songs in high regard and close to heart couldn't tell you who the singer and/or singers were if you held an IPhone playing a Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon to their heads.

Pop quiz (no pun intended).....and play fair, no Googling allowed.

Who did these pop hits?

You Were On My Mind.

I Can Help.

Keep Your Hands To Yourself.


The list, like the hits, just keeps on comin.

And it really doesn't matter that, for example, those songs were recorded, released and became big hits between the 60's and 90's by,. respectively, We Five, Billy Swan, The Georgia Satellites and Jennifer Paige.

What mattered, and ultimately matters, is the music itself.

Because that's what music is supposed to do.


I was reminded of that life/art truth today as I experience the media tsunami of words and music flooding social media and the airwaves with the words and music of Glenn Frey.

No question about the props the guy deserves for his work.

And no surprise that the unexpected passing of someone relatively young stirs emotions and inspires reminiscence and reflection.

Oh and while the millennials' youthful brows probably furrowed perceptibly at the idea that 67 is "relatively young", let me offer to them the old bromide that "I was your age once, yes, I thought any age ahead of me by more than, say twenty five years or more was, in fact, old and I discovered as I approach 65 what you, too,will discover when you approach 65.

67 is relatively young.

But Glenn Frey died. Relatively young. And his work was, and remains, such a part of the soundtrack of life that it's only natural that his sudden passing stirs emotions and inspires reminiscence and reflection.

Not to mention credit where credit is due.

And, inevitably, even where, maybe it's not so due.

In his twilight performing years, Frank Sinatra made an effort to stay relevant and contemporary in his concerts by offering up his takes on a sprinkling of, then, contemporary works by, then, contemporary songwriters.

One song, in particular, he went to gracious and great effort to introduce each time as "one of the greatest love songs ever written and his personal favorites of all the songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney."

He then proceeded to pay tribute to those esteemed colleagues with his heartfelt performance of the classic Beatles love song, "Something".

Words and music by George Harrison.

Apparently, in the spirit of a long ago emperor and his not so apparent apparel, no one felt sufficently confident to correct Ol' Blue Eyes as to who wrote what when.

And, ultimately, it didn't really matter to the legions of Sinatra fans.

Because what really mattered was the music.

Because that's what music is supposed to do.


This morning I heard a local radio personality throwing out the garden variety request for folks to call and share their personal favorite Glenn Frey songs.

He, personally, mentioned two of which he was particularly fond.


Hotel California.

And just as it is with favorite fruits, favorite desserts, favorite cars, favorite hair styles and, of course, favorite captains of the starship Enterprise, the whole notion of favorite anythings is subjective and, especially when it comes to something as personal as music, personal.

So, there's that.

George Harrison died in 2001, but I have an impish feeling that he would be amused by the credit being doled out to Frey in the wake of his passing.

Because he knows how that kind of thing goes.

But as a writer/composer of modest accomplishment and an admitted music minutiae geek, I had to resist every temptation to jump online and post that...

...Desperado did, in fact, benefit extraordinarily from Glenn Frey's classically trained piano sensibilities and, those who actually know attest, his minor contributions to the lyric, but he himself would probably warmly acknowledge that the lion's share of the song, including, of course, the weary, yet poignant, vocal was the work of Frey's partner in  crime, Don Henley......

...and Hotel California was actually the primary brain child of temporary Eagle Don Felder with, once again, Henley's raspy and right for the mood vocal with meaningful, if not substantial, contributions from Frey.

None of that matters.

Because today people who love the songs of The Eagles are hearing, over and over, in their heads and hearts, those songs they love most and associating them with Glenn Frey.

And that's as it should be.

Because that's really getting "down to the heart of the matter".

Words and music by Mike Campbell, JD Souther.....and Don Henley.

Not that it matters.

So, the epitaphs will continue, the testimonials will flow and the music will live on.

When it comes to tribute, though, nobody has yet offered anything more essential or poignant than Frey's other half during their musical lives, the aforementioned Mr. Henley who had this to say at the end of his public statement....

"...you did what you set out to do....and then some....".

A true fact about Glenn Frey.

Words by Don Henley.

Not that it matters.