Later tonight, NBC is going to air what is essentially a two-hour commercial for a new DVD being released by the Eagles. Whether the network couldn't find four episodes of "Fear Factor" back-to-back-to-back-to-back or whether someone at The Big Peacock finally realized their core audience is made up of 50-year-old white people, I'm not really sure. All I know is that one of the major networks is preparing to air a prime-time concert featuring songs that were hits when I was about ten months old. Suffice it to say, it's pretty simple to take it easy when the Gerber people are still preparing your meals. Worries are few.
Now, I should mention here that I am a fan of the Eagles, or at least of their music. I can't say I'm a big supporter of the performers themselves. They do not seem like particularly nice people. Let's just say if you've managed to get your hands on an interview clip featuring Don Henley and Glenn Frey where they aren't talking about lawsuits or rationalizing their exorbinant ticket prices, you've got yourself a classic.
Nonetheless, I still enjoy their songs (trite as they may be), and my passive-aggressive TiVo has been instructed to -- please, in the name of all things holy -- record this special so I may replay it over and over again in spastic fits of pathetic Caucasian bliss. When you're an Eagles fan and you'd rather not cough up the price of a car payment to be only 2,000 feet away from the actual Don Henley actually grimacing as he actually sings "Hotel California" for the millionth time, this is pretty much as good as it gets. The remaining four old Eagles -- no, none of them has died, but Henley and Frey recently fired one member for apparently being a bigger asshole than either of them -- have been "working" on a new album for nearly five years now. Tonight's special will include the two new songs completed over that period. These Eagles, they are nothing if not prolific.
Because I am something of a fan, I find myself visiting the online home of the unofficial Eagles fan club from time to time. The site offers very little in terms of interesting content, such as video clips of UPS commercials featuring Joe Walsh (I only wish I were making that up) and deranged stalkers-in-training opining about what they'll be having for dinner during tonight's broadcast, but there are a few gems to be harvested every now and then. The audio downloads section, for instance, tends to showcase a handful of new and interesting bootlegs every few months or so.
These days, possibly because he's so old that he can't remember which songs he's written and which ones he hasn't, Henley tends to perform numerous covers at his concerts. The best part of these bootlegs is how you can inevitably hear people who have been familiar with Henley's music career for a grand total of five minutes, not counting bathroom and beer breaks, chatter mindlessly about the songs they're hearing. These alone make these downloads enjoyable little tidbits of audio candy.
Today, I noticed someone had posted a Henley cover of the song, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." To the best of my knowledge, everybody who is right around my age knows that Tears for Fears recorded that song in the mid-'80s. We know this because MTV insisted on playing the video once every 15 minutes or so. I'm pretty sure Martha Quinn would even break into my house in the middle of the night, several nights a week, wake me up, and make me watch the damn thing on videocassette. It's a song that, like any trauma, has been burned permanently into my brain.
The same cannot be said, however, for at least one moderately inebriated woman attending this particular Henley concert. The fact that Henley was performing this song seemed to confuse what was remaining of her tiny little mind. Once she recognized the opening notes, she told the people around her who were all shouting "woooo" how much she loved the song. Hey, that's cool. At least she was not also shouting "woooo," a bizarre habit that way too many white people exhibit at concerts. Note to everyone: you simply cannot look cool while shouting "woooo." It doesn't happen. Keep it on the inside, Sparky. Become one with your inner woooo.
Anyway, after another ten seconds, the booze ingested by our heroine starts to kick in. "Wowwww," she slurs, her voice filled equally with confusion and amazement that the world she has known for the last two decades has been blown apart, "I dinnent know he did this song!"
Enter our friend, Mr. Helpful Music Expert Guy, also heard on this recording. Mr. Helpful Music Expert Guy is the guy in the crowd who's there simply to analyze the music and to let everyone around him know that this version of "Life In The Fast Lane" really pales in comparison to the one performed at Henley's solo concert in Sacramento back in '91. At least that's what he wants you to think. In truth, Mr. Helpful Music Expert Guy is there to somehow get laid, and he thinks his encyclopedic knowledge of music trivia -- and, with any luck, that wicked-cool concert T-shirt from 1978 -- is his ticket to approximately eight seconds of bliss.
"He doesn't," yells Mr. Helpful Music Expert Guy, spotting his opportunity.
Now, this new fact clearly confuses Drunk Girl. She pauses, seemingly to ponder why Henley is currently preparing to sing a song he doesn't sing. Now she doesn't know what to think. The contradiction has left her numb. She's lost in a world of aging-rocker madness.
"So this is new?" she asks, trying to comprehend why this song sounds so much like the song she thought it was.
"Exaaaaaactly," replies Mr. Helpful Music Expert Guy, his voice dripping with the fatal combination of stunned amazement ("Henley hasn't been this spontaneous since he accidentally swallowed a fly during the bridge on 'Sunset Grill' at the Concord Pavillion back in '89!") and runaway horniness. "He doesn't have anything to do with it!"
And then, ever so near the moment when he can close the deal and have a futon companion that night, Mr. Helpful Music Expert Guy makes his tragic mistake. He sings the opening line of the song -- "Welcome to your li-ife" -- off key and about four solid counts before Henley starts in. You can practically see the poor guy, looking around, trying to determine if anyone else suffered from premature lyriculation. Nope, our hero was all alone on an island this time. Not to worry, though. It happens to all guys.
Unfortunately, he then does the same thing a second time. He caught himself earlier this time around, only spewing out the partial word "welc" before shutting up, but by then his cover was blown. As Henley sang in the next lyric, "there's no turning back." No truer words were ever sung. Even Drunk Girl had sobered to the reality that Mr. Helpful Music Expert Guy was a fraud. There would be no noogie tonight for Mr. Helpful Music Expert Guy. Just another night in his parents' basement, thumbing through old ELO LPs while finishing off a bottle of Michelob Light.
If you'd like supporting documentation that suggests I'm only partially embellishing this story, you can find the download somewhere on this page.