Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: The excesses of American culture

This week, another ‘forgotten’ oldie one could easily argue isn’t forgotten. And the Eagles are working hard to keep it that way.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the Eagles (sold more than 200 million albums around the world) appear in Milwaukee at the Fiserv Forum next Wednesday as part of their “Hotel California” tour.

Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit and newer additions Vince Gill and Deacon Frey (son of the late Glenn Frey) will play a set of their entire 1976 album “Hotel California” followed by a second set of their greatest hits.

Chris Willman writes in Variety:

Well, that didn’t work, did it? That is, the Eagles’ attempt to head off further migration to an overpopulated Golden State by portraying it as a sad and sinister place in “Hotel California.” Of course, it was the romanticizing, not the de-glamorizing, that those of us in the rest of the nation heard when we listened to the 1976 landmark. The promises of cool winds, fragrant colitas and pink champagne were what called to us, wherever we were, stuck out in the heartland; we ignored the album’s dire warnings about cruel dudes, fickle women, land despoilment, ruthless careerism and the extreme difficulty of cutting across lanes to reach a freeway exit.

Of course, an album doesn’t go 26-times-platinum (that is not a typo, youngsters) by being a dour listening experience, however much sorrow or cynicism might be baked in. And, 45 years later, it holds up. The crowds that are coming to hear the album performed in its entirety on the Eagles’ current tour are coming to celebrate and party first, and be reminded about wasted time secondarily, or not at all.

The fact is that, for whatever might bother anyone about the group’s personalities or legacy, there are few post-Beatles songwriting catalogs that offer anything near the melodic and observational richness of (this) one.

The setup for these evenings is much like it is at other “classic album front to back” shows: The album in question is played pre-intermission — and sends you out to the lobby faster than you’d think, since albums were 43 minutes in those days — the second more-than-half becomes a pure greatest hits set.

About the album’s title song, Don Henley said “Some of the wilder interpretations of that song have been amazing. It was really about the excesses of American culture and certain girls we knew.”

Henley also told 60 Minutes “Everyone wants to know what this song means. I know, it’s so boring. It’s a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America.”

Don Felder said “As you’re driving in Los Angeles at night, you can see the glow of the energy and the lights of Hollywood and Los Angeles for 100 miles out in the desert. And on the horizon, as you’re driving in, all of these images start coming into your mind of the propaganda and advertisement you’ve experienced about California. In other words, the movie stars, the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, the beaches, bikinis, palm trees, all those images that you see and that people think of when they think of California start running through your mind. You’re anticipating that. That’s all you know of California.”


So what might the Milwaukee stop sound like?

The Eagles released “Live From the Forum MMXVII,” a 26-track live album and a concert film that documented three September 2018 shows at the Forum in Los Angeles.

From the album…


Here is the set list from their concert in Chicago on March 19.

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