Thursday, June 7, 2012

You Mean The Song That Sounds Like An Eagles Song Isn't, And The Song That Doesn't Sound Like An Eagles Song Is?

You're being held captive in a dungeon. A sick, psychopathic terrorist has tied you to a chair resting over a trap door. Beneath the trap door is a pit of flames, or acid - maybe both. Answer the question correctly, and he unties you from the chair. Answer the question incorrectly, however, and you meet your doom. So what's the question? The evil terrorist mastermind plays you two songs from 1980. One is an Eagles song, the other isn't. All you need to do is correctly identify which song is by the Eagles and which song is not. But you lose. You die. You burn to death in the pit of flames and/or acid.

Why? Not because you're tied to a chair being forced to listen to the Eagles. Oh no. That would be too easy. It's because the song that doesn't sound anything like an Eagles song is actually an Eagles song, and the song that sounds exactly like an Eagles song isn't a fucking Eagles song!

In 1979, the Eagles were on their last legs. Although Hotel California had been purchased by, from what I understand, every resident of said state (and became the de facto album of choice to play when chopping up one's lines of coke), the band members could barely stand each other. Also: coke. By the time the band released The Long Run, founding member Randy Meisner had been replaced by former Poco bassist Timothy B. Schmidt, who had also - get this - replaced Meisner in Poco when Meisner originally left Poco! Timothy B. Schmidt just hung around to lick up Randy Meisner's sloppy seconds, OK? At any rate, although technically released in 1979, Schmidt's vocal showcase "I Can't Tell You Why" became a hit in 1980. Its smooth, Quiet Storm vibe remained a fixture of easy listening radio throughout the decade.

Later I learned who the Eagles were. I "can't tell you" how surprised I was when one night, while listening to the radio, a DJ informed me that this smoky little R&B ballad that I'd heard on the radio a million times had been performed by ... the Eagles. But ... but ... that's ... that's impossible! Of course, it hardly sounds like the Eagles because ... the new guy was singing it! Not fair. Cheating.

Then there's this other song, also released in 1979 but achieving hit status in 1980, with a shuffling Latin beat straight from "Tequila Sunrise," which was obviously by the Eagles. Except the DJ said it wasn't by the Eagles. It was by J.D. Souther. Who the hell was J.D. Souther? And why does he sound like he's in the Eagles? I can tell you why J. D Souther sounds like he was in the Eagles. Because he just about was.

J.D. Souther was like the 6th Eagle. He co-wrote Eagles songs such as "Best of My Love," "New Kid in Town," and "Heartache Tonight" (with Bob Seger!). All well and good, but he also sounds like a dead ringer for Glenn Frey. They could have traded places and no one would have noticed, like Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay in A Tale of Two Cities. So along comes J.D. Souther with his "first" hit, the hypnotic Roy Orbison homage "You're Only Lonely," but it sure didn't feel like his first hit. Probably because, in a sense, it really wasn't.

Taking Notes? There'll be a quiz after. Remember: pit of flames.

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