Can 29 million people be wrong? Well, yes and no, but Eagles’ best of album, originally released in the celebratory year of America’s bicentennial, captured the country’s zeitgeist as well as any. Despite its gross heresy, and though they are no doubt direct musical descendants, I rate Eagles’ version of “Cosmic American Music” as more successful than critics’ darling Gram Parsons in terms of style, execution, ambition and, especially, singing. I would further argue that it’s only snobbery that prevents this view from being more widely held; and I’m sure Henley, et al are crying all the way to the bank about it.
I’d only resisted owning Eagles albums because of their absolute ubiquity on FM radio when I was growing up–I was moved to take the plunge when on a quickie thrift store sortie to Demelza House in Hythe before the lad’s football match this morning. Both Georgia O’Keefe-alluding sleeves are matte finished, embossed first editions–how could I resist?
It’s funny, but in these latter days, as a result, I’m pretty sure, of Their Greatest Hits programming, Eagles are effectively perceived as Don Henley’s and Glenn Frey’s eyrie (with Joe Walsh in for comic relief), but on One of These Nights the pair sing only half the songs with the rest by now ex-Eagles Don Felder, Randy Meisner and (former Burrito Brother) Bernie Leadon. It must be said, that, for all that, it’s a relatively weak record.