For as long as I can recall, the Eagles have never been thought of as cool. They were too big, too successful, too corporate to be thought of as hip in the way, say, Neil Young is. And, perhaps worse still, they were popular with people who just liked mainstream radio-friendly music. Their records were bought by regular working people who liked songs to have a great melody. The sunshine sound helped get them through the ups and down of life. The fact the NME or whichever self-appointed critics always saw them as some bloated coke-fuelled leviathan, was irrelevant to those people.
But if the Eagles had never sold any records, you know what, they’d have been thought of as the coolest band ever. When Glenn Frey died last week, there was inevitably less outpouring of grief about it compared to David Bowie because the Eagles were never as musically revolutionary, but all the same, they touched millions of people’s lives just as profoundly. They were loved all over the world. Millions grew up and fell in and out love to their music. The Greatest Hits volume one may well be the best selling record of all time at over 42 million copies sold. It’s sold so many, they can’t really count it accurately.
Now, you don’t achieve that sort of sales without being brilliant at your art form. You are connecting with so many people for so long that it shouldn’t and can’t be dismissed. And the Eagles and Glenn Frey didn’t just do it once, they did it time and time and time again. 2007’s superb album Long Road Out Of Eden sold seven million in USA alone and went to number one in 13 different countries.
They have sold 150 million records worldwide. They’re the 5th best selling band ever and the top selling American band of all time. The top! These are astonishing numbers and it happened for one reason. The songs. They’re wonderful songs, full of melody and atmosphere. They paint simple but universal pictures and, from time to time, offered a more cynical, jaundiced and critical view of the American Dream. If so someone who hadn’t sold over 150 million records had written Long Road Out Of Eden, with an excoriating Don Henley lyrics skewering the 21st cultural junk of American society.
Glenn’s passing is, of course, very sad, but then, no-one gets out of this gig alive. But what a legacy he leaves. To have been a constant in so many millions of people’s lives for so long, to have been part of the soundtrack of our lives in such a widespread and profound way is a huge achievement and, you know, playing the records again, they’re still as brilliant as ever. Timeless and uplifting, we will never see their like again. Cheers Glenn. May you always have a peaceful, easy feeling.