So, I started this column intending to re-examine classic albums, evaluating them in the context of their time and questioning whether or not they hold up now. And for the most part, I’ve done that. But I haven’t been as critical as I’d intended at the start. Ultimately, I concluded that most of the records I’d reviewed did indeed hold up to the tests of time.
And while it’s fun to go back and listen to classic records and write about them, well, giving them all passing grades isn’t exactly killing any idols. So I’m going to be more critical about evaluating rock icons from now on. And I’m setting my sights on a pretty big target. This time, I won’t take it easy. I don’t have a peaceful, easy feeling. I don’t like the Eagles is what I’m getting at.
For starters, the Eagles are the epitome of what I sometimes like to call “dad rock.” Now, dad rock isn’t just whatever music your dad listens to. Mine actually happens to have pretty good taste, but that’s beside the point. Dad rock is unimaginative, overplayed, radio-friendly rock from the 1970s and ‘80s. I’m talking about bands like Bachman-Turner Overdrive, the Steve Miller Band, and Bad Company.
There’s no rebellion, imagination, or emotion of any kind with these groups. The lyrics are all about kicking back, drinking beers, and trying to look up girls’ skirts. The guitar riffs are lazy and repetitive. It’s just…bland. I mean, take one listen to “Take it Easy” and tell me the band has passionate emotions about anything. You can’t do it. Bands like this are the reason punk rock exists. It’s music by robots, for robots.
But there are more reasons to hate the Eagles. There’s a scene in the Coen Brothers’ 1998 detective comedy The Big Lebowski that has always resonated with me. Our hero, the aging stoner Jeffery “The Dude” Lebowski has just been roughed up by a corrupt cop and takes a taxi home to lick his wounds for the night and maybe smoke another j.
But just as he begins to appreciate the solitude of the cab drive home, “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” screeches onto the radio. “Man, come on. I had a rough night, and I hate the f**kin’ Eagles, man,” The Dude mutters. The driver is unsympathetic, to say the least, and pulls over to violently remove The Dude from his vehicle. It’s just another defeat in the case of the missing trophy wife.
Maybe there’s not a point to that story. But I always feel a certain amount of kinship for The Dude in that moment. But it’s not just that. The Eagles are practically omnipresent.
You can hear them on every classic rock radio station, every restaurant speaker system, every sporting event. Hell, “Hotel California” even makes an appearance in the same movie (though, to be fair, it’s a pretty hilarious flamenco cover, not the studio recording). There’s just no escaping them. And if you insist you aren’t a fan, you get a similar treatment to the one The Dude received.
To illustrate my point, I’ve included the typical conversation that occurs every time I distaste for the Eagles.
“You don’t like the Eagles? What’s wrong with you?”
“They’re boring. Their music doesn’t mean anything.”
“What about ‘Hotel California?’”
“It’s too long, and it’s way too overplayed. People just like it because they hear it on the radio so often.”
And then I either stop arguing or get hit in the face.
Classic or catastrophe: 100% Catastrophe