Sunday, March 29, 2009

someone to be kind to in between the dark and the light

i didn't know i liked the eagles so much. but their music animates me, their songs inspire emotion in me. and so all of a sudden; it was only last summer that i began listening to their music.

i was sitting at dunn's waiting for my hot dog as i was wont to do last summer at six am, post-imaginationhouse, and i commented to the tall fellow that i liked the song playing, to which he gave his unbeknownst-to-him fateful response, 'it's the eagles, man'. the eagles ... a spectre that loomed in the back of my western-influenced mind, a band that i knew existed and was important, but which i couldn't recall having ever heard. of course, just like with frank, i was wrong: i knew many of their songs but didn't know it. 'desperado' i knew because of that seinfeld episode; 'tequila sunrise' i knew because of interview with the vampire; 'hotel california' is really famous of course, but i had spent an entire summer some years previous loving the gipsy kings cover. and so i discovered that the eagles were an embedded component of this society's social imaginary - the background repository of images and narratives - the vernacular, pop culture which i have, over the years, absorbed without intention, which to me is still remarkable considering one where i grew up and two that so many young people from here don't know much about the past while it seems to be familiar to me.

but these above-mentioned songs were not the songs that turned me, really. it was the slow, forlorn songs. 'i can't tell you why' was the first. it's a song about the banal reality of two people trying to come to know one another, amidst their conflicting, entrenched perspectives on life: "look at us baby, up all night, tearing our love apart", he says; "nothing's wrong as far as i can see; we make it harder than it has to be", he concludes. the song begins with only the bass, but continues into a slow percussive rhythm, punctuated by a dreamy and ethereal synth, and concludes with an almost two-minute guitar solo that single-handedly and instantaneously incited in me an appreciaton and love for the electric guitar in particular, and rock music in general. the song's lyrics, just like most of the eagles' fare, are sensible and sensitive, capturing in an instant a depth of emotion without sacrificing comprehensibilty or grammar. much of the same is evident in 'the best of my love', a song which tackles similar subject matter in similar musical style: "every night i'm lyin' in bed/ holdin' you close in my dreams/ thinkin' about all the things that we said/ and comin' apart at the seams". the chorus is longing and mournful, both lyrically and musically, inspiring the same in the listener.

the title of this post is a line from one of my favouritest songs, 'one of these nights', delivered in a falsetto and pace that contrasts the previous lines and bars, which makes it stand out immediately. of course the genius of their songs, generally, is that they are expertly executed both musically and lyrically. their meaningfulness is conveyed effortlessly by don henley's almost unremarkable voice, were it not for its remarkable range, augmented by its lightness, which allows it to move seamlessly into his falsetto, the natural, graceful beauty of which acts as a juxtaposition against the deepness of his lyrics. they move together, the music and lyrics; the same sentiment is conveyed by both, they complement each other to make a unified whole, a symmetry: beauty incarnate.


Amy said...

Glad to hear you finally discovered the Eagles. FYI, "I Can't Tell You Why" was co-written and sung by Timothy B. Schmit, the Eagles' bass player that joined the band in 1977.

M said...

haha yea, finally. sure, many of their songs had multiple writers, but dh was always there. no need to diminish his skill you pedant.

Amy said...

Diminish Henley's skill? Me? Never. Your comments about ICTYW read as though you believed Henley sang the lead vocal on the song and he did not, Timothy B. Schmit did. My only intent was to inform, not criticize.

M said...

yea actually i made a mistake in writing realised later forgot to correct unusual for me but now will leave it due to its extraordinary atypicality.