As the calendar moves closer and closer to the month of September, we will begin the unofficial start to the Fall season, which means the baseball play-offs and the beginning of football season. Between the two sports, I prefer baseball, as I dabbled a bit in it before becoming a track and field athlete in the Spring and a cross country runner in the Fall. Football has always been something I watched until basketball started. Unfortunately, both of my boys played football, with my older getting his left femur broken in Junior Football when he was in fifth grade as a ten-year-old. His injury is the worst in our town’s league history, a dubious honor. And, son #2 was the bigger, more athletic of the two. My wife and I tried to keep him out of football, but he persisted. Everything was fine when he was playing offensive and defensive tackle positions, as he loved to drill other kids. The problem began in eighth grade, when two things happened: he grew several inches and slimmed down and the quarterback did not come out for the team. So, he went from hitting people, which he loved, to being the quarterback and leading the team, which, although he was gifted to do both, he reluctantly accepted the change. Then, as a sophomore, he fractured his left ankle. After that unusual injury, he developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), which meant permanent nerve damage in that ankle. He spent a decade walking with a cane, until within the past year, miraculously (and knock on wood), his symptoms left, and he seems to be “normal” once again. Needless to say, football is not too popular in my household.
Yet, I do look forward to Labor Day every year. I don’t know why. When I ran, we did not take the day off, but we did go on bicycle rides as a fun break from the running routine. It was a great way to refresh your brain after a big invitational from the weekend. When I coached cross country, my Alexandria teams would run in the morning, meet at an athlete’s home with a pool, have pancakes and go swimming as a way to decompress.
But, the one thing I made a tradition of doing on Labor Day way back in high school was to visit a record store and purchase a “classic” album. Back in 1979, when the tradition began, that album was The Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks compilation album. Over the years, I have purchased albums by Paul McCartney, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Band, to name a few. I have no idea what I will buy this year, though I am leaning toward actually adding my first Eagles album to my collection, if I can find a copy in good enough condition.
You see, I have never really been a fan of the Eagles. I don’t know what it is? I love similar country rock bands like the Flying Burrito Brothers, The Band, as well as newer bands of the genre like The Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo. But, for some reason, the Eagles have always fallen flat on my hears. I really do not believe that it has to do with me reacting against their success, and whether they are overrated or not. Hell, I still love Fleetwood Mac, and you can somewhat lump these bands together in that Seventies “California Sound.” I mean, I love Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne. I especially love Linda Ronstadt, and even had a celebrity crush on her when in middle school and probably high school. And, three of the original Eagles played in Ronstadt’s band! So, what’s wrong with me?
Just last week, it was announced that the Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) had surpassed Michael Jackson’s Thriller album as the biggest-selling album in rock history. That album has sold more than 38 MILLION copies! The album hit the number one position in 1976, but that year it seemed as though everyone had a number one album, from the likes of George Benson, Peter Frampton and Earth, Wind & Fire to Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. That Eagles compilation album spent four consecutive weeks at the top, dropped to number two for a week, then returned for one final week atop the chart. But, Frampton Comes Alive was the year’s best-selling album that year. And, nearly everyone is familiar with the Thriller story, as that album was in and out of the number one position for the better part of two years. Yet, the Eagles, acting as the proverbial tortoise has just past Michael Jackson’s hare as the all-time best-selling album. It’s a remarkable feat, yet I do understand. I am perplexed. Mainly, because I have NEVER owned a copy of that album! Yes, you read that correctly! As a matter of fact, I have Hotel California on CD, as well as the band’s 2003 double-CD compilation The Very Best of Eagles, which I assume is treated as a completely different album. But, then again, Garth Brooks has petitioned the accounting agency to change the rules so many times so he could actually become the biggest-selling album act in history that I no longer can remember the rules.
So, how did this happen? I suspect that after the post-Michael Jackson death run on his albums subsided, the endlessly touring Eagles continued to rack up sales of their single album compilation, with a friendly discounted price. And, since for some reason Americans are willing to pay $200 a ticket to see a TRUE ballad band, as opposed to my misconception around Chicago, then I guess I should not be surprised. Yet, I am.
So, today, I really worked hard to overcome more inertia than I usually experience before writing this blog, as I wanted to finally tackle one of the “biggies” of rock – the Eagles. So, in honor of this band reaching such a significant milestone in album sales, may I present to you My Favorite 20 Eagles Songs.
20. “Please Come Home for Christmas” (1978)
19. “Ol’ 55” (1974)
18. “Lyin’ Eyes” (1975)
17. “James Dean” (1974)
16. “Best of My Love” (1974)
15. “Peaceful Easy Feeling” (1972)
14. “Seven Bridges Road” (1980)
13. “Witchy Woman” (1972)
12. “After the Thrill Is Gone” (1975)
11. “In the City” (1979)
10. “Tequila Sunrise” (1973)
9. “Saturday Night” (1973)
8. “My Man” (1974)
7. “One of These Nights” (1975)
6. “Hotel California” (1976)
5. “Take It Easy” (1972)
4. “Desperado” (1973)
3. “Pretty Maids All in a Row” (1976)
2. “I Can’t Tell You Why” (1979)
1. “Take It to the Limit” (1975)
See? I told you I’m a little off the beaten path with my preferences when it comes to songs by the Eagles. Let’s just say that I don’t totally hold the same sentiment about the Eagles as was expressed in The Big Lebowski (Remember: “F— the Eagles!”). But, they are not my favorites either.