I'll admit to feeling a chill when I heard that Glen Frey had passed. For reasons subjective to all of us, we append a soundtrack to our lives. Sometimes it's just background, putting a pin in a special Summer or memorable love affair. But sometimes it's something more.
I don't remember the first time I heard an Eagles tune nor whether or not it was one of their hits. But something in the tone and the writing spoke to me and I sought them out.
It was a time when I still wore my hair long and was given to boots, jeans and leather. It took me back to my country roots but included a sophistication I still longed to acquire. And though it could rock, there was also an attractive, illusive gentleness.
Songs like "Lyin' Eyes", "James Dean" and "New Kid in Town" seemed directed at me personally. And one day "Hotel California" just put everything in perspective.
During various sojourns in Hollywood and one particular summer in Laurel Canyon, they were pervasive. And not just musically. They seemed to capture the essence of the days and the soft desert nights. Everything in their lyrics and the instrumentals resonated with the world that surrounded me.
I think that's what people really mean when they use the word "culture".
With Glen Frey's passage, it became clear that all of that was gone. Oh, it's been gone for a long time. But listening to an Eagle song, even one from the last few years, made it feel like that world was still accessible and capable of returning.
But it's not.
And maybe that's why the loss of a rock icon we never actually knew hits as hard as it does. It's a reminder that we've moved on. Perhaps from a life and way of living we never thought we'd leave. And more than likely leaving us bereft of a current soundtrack that reflects who or where we are now.
The other night, I went to a hockey game and noticed that all the music pumping the crowd was 30-40 years old. I could remember when that music was new and just as powerful as it is today. But since I'm far from the major hockey crowd demographic, it got me wondering where the music was that spoke just as dynamically to them.
Did the record companies who once so perfectly guided our tastes decide to rest on their laurels and just keep releasing the old library in new formats?
Did the rise of boy bands and baby doll harlots block the road to artists who really had something to say to us?
Or did we ourselves stop demanding a new voice and new horizons, preferring we be surrounded with those who reflected us in a former incarnation?
When I was 18 or 25, I didn't listen to music from the flapper era. Why do so many younger people look so far in the past today?
Maybe losing a Bowie or a Frey cuts deeply because none of us have replaced their voices. And maybe replace is the wrong word. Maybe it's really about accepting the voices that speak more to who and where we are now.
Whatever it is, I'll still miss you Glen. You and the guys were a bigger part of me than I'm sure you ever realized.
And I'll never forget you. But you were of one moment of my life and forgive me, but I'm not letting my soundtrack keep repeating the tracks we've already heard.
And somehow I think you'll understand that. For it's almost as if one of your first songs foretold your own transition to wherever you are now.
Adios, Desperado. Keep moving.
And Enjoy Your Sunday.