Monday, April 29, 2013

My Complicated George W. Bush Feelings

I don't usually like talking about politics, but I think I'm going to end up doing that from time-to-time on this blog. I'm not an expert on politics and probably won't ever claim to be. I generally dislike nearly everything about it as well. It's a dirty game and I (like probably everyone else) worry about our country's future with the political discourse that goes on. Of course any person who has studied history knows political discourse has always been dirty. Chester Arthur spent much of his short Vice-Presidential tenure trying to undermine James Garfield. This was due to a Republican party that was split (sound familiar?) and had two different factions of the party wanting to further two different agendas. Two centuries ago Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton dueled to the death because they disagreed. So relative to that, political discourse right now is pretty tame. I'm probably considered a moderate, though I am not exactly moderate on a lot of issues in my own opinion, I am just open-minded.

Anyway, the opening of his Presidential Library has gotten me thinking a lot about George W. Bush and the legacy he tells us he doesn't care much about right now. In 1998, the young, naive Bengoodfella swore he would never vote for George W. Bush if he ran for President (I also was a big John Edwards fan, so I hope that gives some more perspective on my naivety) because I thought he should have stayed Karla Faye Tucker's execution. 15 years later I know of greater injustices caused by our legal system than a reformed murderer being executed for her crime. So when George W. Bush ran for President in 2000, I listened to the debates, became horrified at Al Gore's makeup in the first debate, became confused by what a Compassionate Conservative really was, and eventually did not vote for George W. Bush. This was my first election where I could vote so I was very interested to find out the least until 1am when the election wasn't decided and I had a Biology exam at 9am the next morning that I had not studied sufficiently for. I gave up and just decided I would catch up on who won in the morning. Little did I know I would have another month or so to catch up and find out who the next President would be.

I immediately got wrapped back up into my own personal dramas and life, while thinking school vouchers weren't a bad idea and spent very little time trying to figure out what a Compassionate Conservative truly was. Roll on to September 11, 2001 when everyone's life in the United States changed in some way. I was that jerk who was saddened, scared and angry at the attacks on the Pentagon and New York City. I say I was that jerk because I wasn't really, really shocked at the events of 9/11 and this angered some of my friends. I knew people hated the United States and after Columbine, the Oklahoma City federal building attack, and the fact Saddam Hussein was still alive I thought it meant we could never rule out terrorist activities on U.S. soil. I didn't expect the enormity of the terrorist attack on that day though. The idea I wasn't shocked at the idea of a terrorist attack on American soil upset some of my friends, as if I was demeaning what had occurred or wasn't feeling any of the same emotions they were, which could not have been further from the truth. I knew the United States was hated and knew there were crazy people out in the world. I never thought the hatred would manifest itself in exactly the way it did on September 11.

So pushing ahead, wars occurred, WMD's weren't found, and I supported George W. Bush in 2004 because I wanted to give him a chance at four more years and I didn't like John Kerry as a candidate for President. That's sort of the problem with the two-party system, if you greatly dislike one candidate and want to vote to make a difference, then your options are limited. I had to go with the candidate I sort of liked over the candidate I didn't really like. So skipping ahead again, Bush didn't do a bang-up job in his second term. He made controversial decisions, controversial comments/actions regarding Hurricane Katrina, and then became a war criminal to many people. It's not exactly how I envisioned his second term going. So war protests happened frequently and nobody liked George W. Bush.

An interesting side-note to this is there is a very, very liberal college in my area that used to have students protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the front of the school with signs and yelling about Bush/Cheney being war criminals and begging the passing motorists to end the wars. I'm not sure what protesting to motorists was intended to accomplish, but at least they were speaking their mind. Then Barack Obama got elected, the same wars continued, Gitmo stayed open, and the protests magically stopped completely. It led me to believe the protests were less about Bush's policies and more about the fact they didn't like George W. Bush because of his political orientation. That's their right, but I can't say it didn't have an effect on me and show me this is how politics really works. If anyone could close Gitmo and stop the war it was Obama, right? It wasn't his war and he was resoundingly elected in 2008. We're getting to ending the war of course and bring our troops home now, but the protests just stopped immediately outside the college even though the war was still going on. I guess they don't feel the need to protest if it's their guy in office.

So after Bush's policies and me feeling the need for a fresh voice I voted Democratic in 2008. Yeah, I'm apparently a swing-voter and I hate it. I believe nothing, I have no real opinion, but only vote based upon how the wind blows. That's what you will hear/say. When I'm given two options for a meal I sometimes end up choosing a meal that I don't completely like, but won't give me indigestion. I like the idea of a two-party system, but I don't like having to compromise parts of what I believe every four years to vote for one of the two candidates. Trying to rectify this, I didn't vote Democrat and Republican in 2012 and was accused of wasting my vote by pretty much everyone. That's America for you. Agree or disagree with us, but you can only vote for the two options you are presented. You get chicken or steak. If you choose to only eat a salad then you get looked down on.

I'm getting off-topic now. I'm supposed to be describing my complicated feelings about George W. Bush. I have read his biography and watched all the interviews leading up to the Presidential Library dedication. He's unapologetic and clearly believes history will judge him more fairly. That's his choice and probably a good way for him to get past the fact he was extremely unpopular as he left office. I still look at a lot of his presidency as wasted, because 9/11 got him side-tracked and his agenda went with it. More about this in a minute, but he couldn't pass Social Security reform or immigration reform and he created the policy of attacking the enemy before they attack you (again). A foreign policy of preemptive action, that's part of his legacy. Punch someone before they punch you. His presidency wasn't a high point for this country and all the momentum he built on September 14, 2011 standing on the rubble at Ground Zero never completely took shape into other areas of his presidency.

The more I think about Bush, the more I see him as an example of American politics at its worst and how the Republican party has betrayed him. He's person non grata in the Republican party now. What's funny to me is that I don't think this is completely Bush's fault (his relationship with the Republican party). There are portions of Bush's immigration reform that can be seen in the immigration reform bill that is being proposed now. At no point will you hear that Bush's idea of immigration reform was rejected in 2007 by some of the same people who now think it is a good idea. The same goes for Social Security reform. Obama is proposing Social Security reform that looks a bit like what George Bush proposed and couldn't get passed. Of course, it was Republicans preventing him from passing the Social Security reform since he couldn't get support from his own party. So two of Bush's proposals that didn't pass in Congress while he was President still have legs in today's world. I don't think this obviously changes his legacy or anything like that, but it shows me that had there been an alternate universe where 9/11 never happened maybe we could have had meaningful Social Security or immigration reform prior to Obama's election. The Republican party didn't help him pass this legislation when he was President and it probably feels he is too moderate now (you know, if they didn't stay away from him because they also view him as a huge failure) to really help the Republican party with new ideas to attract voters. He's poison on all levels to them.

So Bush is at this bad spot politically. He's a war criminal who took away civil liberties away in the opinion of many Democrats, while to Republicans he is a person non grata who helped set them back as a party by having a failed Presidency (I would argue very strongly Bush isn't the cause of the Republican party losing the White House in 2008 and 2012). Bush really didn't do a good job of pleasing either party. He was considered hateful by Democrats, but wasn't quite hateful enough by some Republicans. His presidency was a failure, much of it his fault, but I can't ignore the fact he faced stern opposition from even in his own party when trying to pass reforms.

Nearly every interview given with Bush nowadays has the interviewer desperately trying to get him to apologize or admit he was wrong. Then they ask him about his legacy and he reinforces the fact he doesn't care about his legacy. It's become repetitious and slightly boring. Bush has said repeatedly that he doesn't care to talk about his legacy or guess what his legacy will be. He even told John King of CNN (in essence) "I will be dead when my legacy is finally decided, so I wish I would stop getting asked." He seems secure in his legacy and I think that frustrates many people. They want him to list all of the mistakes he made and he just won't do that. He's certainly being a very good ex-President, that's for sure. He has been quiet and not criticized his successor, which is always a classy thing to do.

I don't feel bad for Bush or anything like that, but he's poison within his own party and I don't know if it is completely because of his policy decisions as President. I think it is because his values don't match up with the direction part of the Republican party wants to move. He has to take some satisfaction in knowing there are many who bash his presidency but also don't completely disagree some of the ideas and proposals he submitted as President. Republicans love Bush when it comes to the Bush tax cuts, but otherwise they would rather he just go away and stay away, even if he isn't as grating as Karl Rove or give off an icky feeling like Dick Cheney can.

It's interesting how Bush goes out of his way not to apologize for his decisions and claim he doesn't care what we right now think of him, but he also goes to great, great lengths to make us understand his decisions and why the decisions he made were made. So I think he does really care what the public thinks about him. His autobiography went about explaining why he made certain decisions as President and he has a "Decision Points" exhibit in his Presidential Library where a visitor can interactively go through the decision-making process for big decisions based entirely on the advice that Bush received from his advisors. For a guy who doesn't care about his legacy he is trying very hard to convince people the decisions he had to make weren't exactly easy.

My feelings about Bush are very conflicted. I don't think he did a great job as President but I also don't understand the decisions he had to make in the climate where he had to make those decisions. I have no concept of the advice he was being given and had to act upon to keep America safe. I'm not excusing him, just saying the climate after 9/11 was pretty heated and preventing another terrorist attack was a major concern. Bush is certainly responsible for the Housing crisis in some ways, but I am not entirely sure another President could have avoided the housing bubble from popping and Wall Street going belly-up. I obviously could be wrong. It's complicated for me because I voted for him once, didn't vote for him another time and I don't hate him. I think he really believes he did the best he could. There was not another terrorist attack on American soil during his Presidency and Bush takes that as a success. Obviously there is a means to this end which has caused some controversy.

Bush seems convinced history will judge his legacy in a different way, but I'm not entirely sure. Who will his champion be 30 years from now? He is still a punchline four years out of office, Democrats generally don't like him and Republicans don't dare speak his name since it is synonymous with failure to many in the party. Who will stick up for him and try to change his legacy or help history see him differently? Even those who are furthering the political agenda that Bush began (or parts of that agenda) won't share credit or mention where some of these ideas originated. History is written by the winners and Bush didn't win. He presided over the failing economy, the housing crisis, two unpopular wars, Hurricane Katrina, and enhanced interrogation techniques. His work in Africa, the integration of his Cabinet, and keeping the United States safe after 9/11 will probably be a footnote to his presidency. I'm not sure history will judge George W. Bush any crueler than the present has done, but with no one being his champion I'm not sure Bush will need to be dead before he can fully understand what his legacy will be either.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday Random Music Review: Glenn Frey's Greatest Hits (Actually Called "Solo Collection")

I realize this could be seen as a random entry to start off as my first "real" post on this site. I don't fancy myself a real music reviewer or an expert on music at all. I do love music and will try to do a random album review every Thursday or so. The purpose is to review an album and probably mock/praise the artist a little bit. I prefer to review random albums without reviewing the newest album that just came out as if I know exactly what I talking about, because I don't necessarily. I always listen as a fan of music. So I am starting with Glenn Frey's Greatest Hits (or "Solo Collection" as he calls the album...just in case an Eagles fan picks up the album thinking they are going to get to hear "Take it Easy" for the 293,392 time doesn't get confused). Glenn Frey is a founder, rhythm guitarist and co-dictator of The Eagles, who are a group that is on the radio every five minutes, broke up the first time before I was born and many people seemingly hate because they are an example of corporate rock at its worst. This Solo Collection goes to 1995 and it encapsulates Frey's solo career perfectly. He did have a solo career that didn't include "Heat is On," which probably would shock some people.

I listened to the album sometimes pleasantly surprised, confused at times, cringing at times, and wondering what the hell is up with all of his saxophone use. Did he purchase a saxophone in 1981 and feel like he absolutely had to get his money out of it? For a guy who writes country-rock songs and made a shit-ton of money not using the saxophone, there is a lot of horn work going on in his solo career. You would think since he wrote/sang "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "Take It Easy," and "New Kid in Town," Frey would be spending most of his solo career trying to replicate that success. But fuck that, he apparently stumbled upon Cinemax at 1am one night after the Eagles broke up and decided he would add sensitive lyrics about love to the soundtrack of "Bikini Car Wash Company II." There is definitely some of that softcore porn sounding vibe in Frey's solo career. What makes a person who has a ton of money go against what has made him successful in his solo career? All he had to do was call J.D. Souther and write some country-rock songs and then have a decent solo career. This is the guy who had the idea for the piano and guitar bridge on "Against the Wind" in 1980 and wrote "Last in Love" (a fairly obscure country song) so I know he could have had a successful career just doing what he did best in the '70's if he wanted. Seriously, why all the saxophone? I'm vexed. Onto reviewing the album track-by-track.

1. This Way to Happiness

There are three ways an artist determines the tracking list of a greatest hits album that has new songs on it.

Options #1 and #2. If the songs are in chronological order of release then the artist puts the new songs at the very end or the very beginning of the album. This way makes it easier for these tracks to be skipped as the listener can just stop the CD or start the CD where she/he wants to. This method says, "These are new tracks, do with them what you will."

Option #3. If the songs are in a random order then the artist will put the new songs in random order on the album as well. This is done so the new songs are thrown in with the old songs to create whatever ambiance the artist wants to achieve. Sometimes this can be off-putting since you can go from a classic, great song to a completely new song the listener has never heard. The quality of the song can dip noticeably and show how the newer songs aren't very good.

Glenn Frey chose Option #2. He put all four new songs at the beginning of the album. It's sort of a risk for a guy who doesn't have an incredibly well-known greatest hits collection as it is. "This Way to Happiness" starts off with a saxophone blaring with some drums in the background. The saxophone would not feel out of place in the title credits to "Full House." In fact, I can almost see Bob Saget smiling into the camera as the song starts. Whatever happened to predictability? Glenn Frey killed it with a saxophone.

This song is notable in that it has a lot of saxophone and lyrics about a road, traveling on the road, and trying to find happiness. It's pretty clear Frey didn't put a ton of time into creating this track. He needed a faster track and his attempts to growl during the chorus seems to be his declaration of super-seriousness. The saxophone covers up for the lack of a hook. But dammit, did I find myself tapping my foot at one point? Yes. That probably says more about me than anything about the song.

2. Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed

There's no question mark at the end of this track name. So Frey knows who has been sleeping in his bed or he is a big Dr. Suess fan and there are Who's that have been sleeping in his bed. At this point I wouldn't rule out either option. His wife/girlfriend is cheating on him and acting suspicious. She "smells like Old Spice and whiskey," so clearly Frey is more of a Right Guard kind of guy who drinks beer.

This is another new song by the way and it has horns, but a guitar solo, and a bluesy feel. What's disturbing about this song is at the end of the song the singer books two rooms at a hospital (apparently in Glenn Frey's world you can book hospital rooms before an injury has occured...ah, the life of a millionaire) and says they will be reunited in the hospital. So the smell of Old Spice and whiskey has apparently caused Frey to beat the shit out of his wife/girlfriend. Not very admirable, even if he does find her to be a cheating hussy. If this song is really about Who's then Frey must be the Grinch.

3. Common Ground

This a new song that is all about being "up with people." We can make it together or we can lose apart. There's water and there needs to be a decision to cross the river or not. I'm guessing a boat isn't an option. Still they have to decide to cross the river or not. It's quite a burden and I would imagine these feelings are somewhat how George Washington felt before he crossed the Potomac River. I feel inspired, but not inspired enough to write anymore about this song. I prefer the song where he beats up people for cheating on him.

4. Call on Me

This is another new song. There was once a television show called "South of Sunset" and it aired one time on CBS. I mean it literally aired one time, like once, not twice. After that one airing it got canceled. The pilot was preempted for Malibu forest fires and then after that CBS decided they would rather show re-runs of the wild fires than another episode of "South of Sunset." Somewhere someone thought it would be a good idea for Glenn Frey to star in a television show. A real television show that people could watch or even possibly enjoy while watching. I'm assuming this person has since been long fired. "Call on Me" was the theme song to this television show. Basically if you need someone you can call on him. It was a show about a private detective so I'm sure the relevance of the song is lost outside of the show.

I've never seen "South of Sunset," but I've heard "Call on Me." It's a shame the forest fires didn't get to this song before the public could hear it.

5. The One You Love

So after four new songs, Frey comes out rocking----wait, check that, he puts his slowest hit that begins with a dreary saxophone playing as the fifth track. Why wouldn't he start with a slow song where he basically whispers the lyrics over a saxophone solo that would be rejected by even the most desperate of softcore porn producers. I knock the saxophone a lot, but it's really not all bad on this song. It's just Frey has a habit of writing songs with a saxophone solo where you imagine blue lighting and a young Pamela Anderson stepping onto the screen. I'm not turning into Bill Simmons, so if you listen to the track you will know what I mean...hopefully.

This lyrics to this song are actually really good. It's an interesting set of lyrics. As opposed to attempting to murder the girl that is thinking about cheating on him, Frey empathizes with her. She has to decide to stay with him (the guy who loves her) or go back to the one she loves (but he doesn't love her). I don't hate the song as it is if I'm being honest, except when I am cringing as the saxophone starts, but it is screaming for a re-do. I can imagine a stripped-down version of the song by a person who isn't Glenn Frey would make for a very interesting track to hear.

Back to the story situation presented in the song....seriously, what the hell do you do? Go back to the one you love who hates you (or as fans of "Burning Love" would say, "It's just Blaze being Blaze) or do you stay with the boring guy who doesn't like Old Spice and whiskey? This is much more serious than the question on whether to cross a river or not. I would go with Option C probably, whatever that may be. I am sure it has less saxophone involved.

6. Sexy Girl

Frey has a very attractive girl move in next door, show him the world (which I take to mean "drank whiskey with me and didn't cheat on me, so I didn't have to put her in the hospital"), and she is a very sexy girl. He sees her and it is like hearing his favorite song. It turns out at the end of the song she doesn't want to be with him, presumably because she wants to go back to the one she loves.

7. Smuggler's Blues

This is the video for this song by the way. It makes me laugh for some reason. Most likely because it was done in the 80's and 80's music videos have a tendency to make me laugh.

This song is not coincidentally given the same title as an episode of "Miami Vice" that Glenn Frey appeared in. I love corporate synergy. This is a different kind of song for Frey because he basically cautions us that drugs and guns are bad, but he also wants us to know we don't understand because we aren't him. So it serves as a warning to the listener, but the listener wouldn't understand because they don't have the smuggler's blues. It seems there is really no point in cautioning us. This is why you shouldn't look too deep into some songs, they don't make sense at times. The guitar part on this song was re-done later and called "Somebody" on the Eagles "Long Road Out of Eden" album. Okay, it wasn't re-done, but they are very similar guitar parts in my opinion.

This song is basically "The Heat is On" except it doesn't have quite the hook of that song and seems to play as a travelogue for the 1980's drug trade. The song will get in your head though, so be wary of it. I woke up one time in college at 4:30am after a long night out unable to get the song out of my head and it drove me crazy. I finally got to bed, but the fear of the song being stuck in my head at 4:30am lives on.

8. The Heat is On

This song shows the correct use of a saxophone. It is intended to compliment the hook of a song, not to BE the hook of a song. I think everybody knows this song. I was going to write that this song holds up really well in concert, but that would reveal I had been to a concert where I heard Glenn Frey play this song and that would be embarrassing.

I feel a lot of the reason Frey went away from his country-rock roots is because "Heartache Tonight" was such a hit for him and the Eagles. I feel like he tries to re-write that song throughout his solo career and it doesn't always work out for him. Bob Seger co-wrote "Heartache Tonight" during the period of his career when he was writing hit songs like it was nobody's business, you can't expect to repeat that success without him. Of course on this song Frey did repeat the success of "Heartache Tonight," but his other songs with a "harder" edge didn't always work out as well for him.

9. You Belong to the City

Again, this is a good use of the saxophone. It sets the tone of this song. Besides the fact this song turned into a pretty decent track for Jay-Z, it also represents Frey's voice at it's best. He likes to growl, but sometimes his growling comes out of nowhere and gets grating. He's not a very good singer really, but on this song he finds a way to make it work. I always call this song, along with "Smuggler's Blue" and "The Heat is On" the Miami Vice Trilogy because they seem at home as background music on the show. You can tell the tracks on this solo collection where Frey really gave a shit because it shows in how the song turned out. Those tracks where he seems to have cared are usually the better tracks.

10. True Love

In concert this song is dedicated to Al Green and Frey says he wrote it for Al Green. He probably should have just given him a watch instead. It's not a bad song by any measure and like most songs written by Glenn Frey it has a strong chorus. It gets repetitive at the end and Frey also will never guess...a long saxophone solo. I'm telling you, it is as if Frey is writing songs and using instruments that are the exact opposite of what made him originally popular. I'm surprised he didn't just do entire albums of him playing the accordion, backed by only a synthesizer and singing songs in Spanish. He may have been better off doing that on this song. It is a half-assed song, but of course it still works in a cheesy sort of way, which is really weird to me. It contains the lyrics,

"You lift me up, you make me strong,  you give me lovin' lasting all night long."

Those are some lyrics that Taylor Swift would cringe at writing and almost nothing makes Taylor Swift cringe when it comes to song writing. If you have accidentally stepped on Taylor Swift's toe at an awards show, she is writing a song about you and this song will contain very, very simple rhymes and lyrics taken right out of the diary of a 13 year old girl.

11. Soul Searchin' 

We are now entering the part of Glenn Frey's discography where he apparently took a look at Don Henley's solo career and decided, "You know, I can be preachy about social issues too." This song is basically "Common Ground" except it is directed towards a woman and not society as a whole, plus there is a choir...because no greatest hits is complete without the use of a choir on one track. In this song, Frey begs his wife/girlfriend to be true to him so he can be true to her. Was this a common problem for Frey in the 80's and 90's, having women cheat on him or have his interest in a woman go unrequited? I feel like his breakup pattern with a woman can be seen throughout this solo collection:

Sexy Girl: She's sexy, but doesn't really love him. This is Frey's attempt to be flattering.

The One You Love: She has to make a choice on who to be with, him or the other guy. This is the attempt to be empathetic.

Soul Searchin': She is sexy and won't make a decision, so Frey encourages her to do some soul searching with him to figure it all out. "River of Dreams" probably takes place at this point, but we haven't gotten to this track yet. This is an attempt to appeal to her sense of belonging with him.

Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed: She's sexy, doesn't know who she wants to be with, he lured her on his somewhat creepy river of dreams and souls have been searched. She's cheating on him and now it is time for the bitch to get roughed up a little bit. Book the hospital bed.

12. Part of Me, Part of You

This a good example of what I am talking about when I say Frey goes against what he does best. The lyrics to this song aren't anything special, but it is a country-rock song that really works for me. Sure, it was the theme to "Thelma and Louise" (which also contains violence to women...I'm sensing a pattern), he yell/growls on the chorus and there is another mention of a river, but this is what he does best. It's a mid-tempo track about two people separating for some reason but still being together in spirit. We assume one person is older and the other is younger. It's cheesy and a little bit stupid, but about the point where he says,

"We never know about tomorrow, still we have to choose which way to go,"

I'm starting to think about that line and get confused about why I am thinking about that line still.

Rather than writing about sexy girls, Frey should go for some introspection. He wrote "Tequila Sunrise," which for my money is one of the best songs to wake up to after a terrible hangover and listen to while feeling sorry for yourself over the things you don't remember you did the night before. "Tequila Sunrise" is soft and that's the key to a good hangover song, that the song doesn't make too much noise. Noise is bad for a hangover. So back to "Part of Me, Part of You... Frey then begins the last verse with more introspection that works for me also.

"Look at you, your whole life stands before you. Look at me and I am running out of time. Time has brought us here to share these moments, to look for something we may never find."

Then there is talk of a bridge to forever, which is structurally/logically impossible because you can't build a bridge across time, so dock him a few points for not being up on his science. So this is a song that works and makes me wonder why he didn't write a better song 10 years earlier similar to this one. Then I remember this entire song is supposed to be viewed in the context of "Thelma and Louise" and I start wondering why I over-think everything.

13. I Got Mine

The song starts off as a bad rip-off of "Money for Nothing" with a keyboard playing over some drums. Then when you think all is lost...guess what happens...just guess. You know the answer, so guess. You got it! A saxophone kicks in with some 90's sounding keyboards. It's back to singing about social issues. "I Got Mine" is about wealthy people who don't care about others because they "got theirs." It could very well be a song where Glenn Frey merely brags about how wealthy he is. He is the person who has "gotten his." This song wins the award for "Least Self-Conscious Song of All-Time" I almost want to re-print the pertinent non-self-conscious lyrics here and dissect them. You know what, let's do it.

Someone's sleeping on the sidewalk
As the winter sun goes down
Someone's drinking cold champagne
In another part of town

That's you, Glenn. You are drinking champagne on another side of town. Probably with a sexy girl.

Someone's wandering the streets tonight
No way to warm his hands
Someone's turning up their fireplace
Making travel plans

His mind is on some sandy beach
Where the sun is gonna shine
He thinks, "I don't have to hang around
Now that I've got mine"

That person on the sandy beach? Glenn Frey. See where this is heading? This is an entire song about how rich people don't care about others, except Frey has the balls to use the pronoun "they" in reference to these wealthy people as if he isn't shockingly and ridiculously wealthy himself. Tickets to an Eagles concert range from $125-$195 per ticket. But yes, it is other people who don't care about the little guy.

You see them in their limousines
You see the way they stare
But they don't see us looking back
Because they don't really care

"Them," "they," and "us" are the ones looking back. This has to be one of the least self-conscious songs of all-time. The only way I could see there being a less self-conscious song that displays more cognitive dissonance is if Snoop Dogg (I'm not calling him Snoop Lion) wrote an anti-marijuana song or Mick Jagger started writing songs about the dangers of premarital sex. A person who charges $195 for a ticket to see the same songs that have been played for 30-40 years now wrote a song about how "they" don't care about the little guy. He seemingly wrote this song with a straight face. And don't worry, all along the saxophone plays and all I can hear is "I'm wealthy," whenever it plays.

There's another kind of poverty
That only rich men know
A moral malnutrition
That starves their very souls

And they can't be saved by money
They're all running out of time
And all the while they're thinkin'
"It's okay 'cause I've got mine"

"A moral malnutrition," you mean like not allowing other members of the Eagles to have full ownership into the band or do you mean running the band as a co-dictator?

I'm probably being too hard on Frey. After all, he has displayed a lot of cognitive dissonance routinely throughout his career. In the 70's he forced Randy Meisner to hit the high notes on "Take It to the Limit," but now when the Eagles tour Frey sings that same song and completely forgoes hitting the higher notes. I guess its okay 'cause he got his.

14. River of Dreams

This is a slow song that starts off with a piano playing and then, yes, a saxophone kicks in. This singer is trying to convince "Linda" to come with him on a river of dreams. To be clear, Frey invited Linda on the river of dreams before Billy Joel released his own obnoxious song about walking in the river of dreams. Aging 70's artists were very, very anxious to have a river with dreams in them whenever possible during the early 90's.

So...back to the "River of Dreams" by Glenn Frey. See the world is too heavy for him and he the only solution is to leave "this place" behind. By the time he wants to make love by candlelight I'm sufficiently creeped out. Frey says "if he could," he would take his girl on the river of dreams. I hate to be "that guy" who continuously points out how wealthy someone else is, but considering the amount of money Frey has made in his career he probably could go to his river of dreams. He chose to make "South of Sunset" instead. Frey does point out in the song a lot of people want to get away, but he fails to point out if everyone chased their river of dreams then the United States economy would collapse and there would be economic and financial anarchy. I think I'm going too far down the rabbit hole in discussing this song.

15. Rising Sun

This is an instrumental track, which seems needless to me. It is the introduction to the next song, "Brave New World," but few people even know that song. Is it even necessary to include the 39 second introduction to the song? Is he afraid someone wouldn't buy his Solo Collection album if the 39 second introduction to "Brave New World" isn't directly in front of the song?

16. Brave New World

This is the second country-rockish song on the album. I'm not even entirely sure what the song is about. I think it is about the apocalypse, which is always a nice song to include directly after a song about riding on a river of dreams. I guess it turns out the river of dreams is made of blood and we are going to die immediately. Perhaps the song is about the singer convincing everyone to commit mass suicide instead of the apocalypse? He sings,

"there's no turning back,
we have to be strong,
we have to travel the road to freedom no matter how long,"

Then it goes to the chorus that says,

"Don't worry darling this will all be over soon,
just remember you will always be my girl,
these are the times we are born into, this is why we're here
to live in this brave, new world."

It certainly sounds like he is suggesting a mass suicide to escape the apocalypse. I'm guessing the plan to move to a river of dreams is over. That plan got shot pretty quickly. I'm also guessing if Glenn Frey is going to kill himself to go to a brave new world, he's going to bring his saxophone along with him.

One thing I would change about this solo collection is the addition of "Lover's Moon" from his album "The Allnighter." It's a cheesy song, but I think it is as good or better than nearly half of the tracks represented here. Overall, this really isn't a bad album and "Brave New World" has a pretty catchy chorus, even if it has a slightly more gentle Jim Jones/Waco vibe about it. What's funny is that if you like the Eagles, I'm not sure I could recommend this album to you. It's so different from what they did as a band. If you like "You Belong to the City" and "The Heat is On" and know how to tune out a saxophone then you probably would enjoy this album. I don't know how many people are dying to explore Glenn Frey's solo material, but this is a good introduction even if I'm not sure it represents all of his best work as a solo artist. It is clear Frey kind of half-assed his solo career.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I'm New Around Here

I usually write about bad sportswriting at Bottom of the Barrel. I have other interests outside of just sports and didn't feel that site was the appropriate place to write/talk/whine/navel-gaze about my other interests. So that's why this blog is here. I enjoy writing and this is the spot where I will write about things that aren't sports-related. I have no idea or plan on what I will write here, though that will hopefully make it more fun. It's also hard to do an introduction without making it seem like a listing where I am trying to sell myself to you so you will eventually love me. It's always awkward in that way. There is a group of people who know my writing that are reading this (I'm trying to draw in all 7 readers of BotB) and possibly a group of people who don't know my writing that are reading this. It's like having a party where you invite your college friends and your work friends who have nothing in common other than knowing you, just without all the standing around, alcohol and small talk.

So the semi-plan I have for this blog is to make it more personal, but it isn't going to be me simply working out my psychological issues or writing about how super-delicious the dinner I cooked last night was (though there is nothing wrong with that, I just assume you don't care to hear about how fucking awesome Sun-Chips are). I call it "A Little Bit of Everything" because that's my goal to talk about a little bit of everything, plus I am uncreative when it comes to titles. Bottom of the Barrel will always be my first priority, but I have this need to comment on life, movies, music and anything else that comes to my mind. I feel the need to separate the two blogs because it's not fair to have someone come to a sports blog expecting to hear about how Bill Simmons has a massive ego and get a 1000 word review of Supertramp's Greatest Hits and why "Take the Long Way Home," is a metaphor for the journey we take in life. I won't be doing that exact post here necessarily, but it's fun to give two extreme examples.

So expect a fair amount of deconstruction on a variety of topics and I hope it to be more entertaining than navel-gazing, though I can't promise there won't be some of that, coated in humor of course. The more I describe what I want to write here, the dumber it sounds. Probably better to stop while I am behind. Hope you enjoy and I am already planning my first "real" post here soon.