I’m With The Band

What kind of crazy fucked up world do we live in where a legendary band is gone from the recorded music scene for eons and comes back with a thirty five year old COVER SONG?

I’m a huge Eagles fan. Bought each album when it came out. You might criticize Don Henley, but when it comes to intelligent lyrics, he wrote the book. Hell, so many of the Eagles’ songs’ lyrics have become part of the vernacular. Life in the fast lane? Desperado? The band made statements. What statement does "How Long" make? That we’re old and tired and we can’t come up with any decent new material? That we no longer ARE desperadoes and we play by the rules of the game? Delivering a radio-friendly track rather than a statement?

Used to be music was about a career. Top Forty tracks were for the wannabes, the singles acts on AM radio. Led Zeppelin? "Stairway To Heaven" was NEVER a single. And it’s the most played, most legendary rock radio song EVER!

We all need something to believe in. And that’s what the acts used to provide. They were more than revenue generators, more than a name on a list of the top Box Office scores, the SoundScan winners. Music was the number one art form, far eclipsing TV, even movies. If you wanted truth, you listened to a record. What do they say, movies done right are larger than life, but rock music done right is LIFE ITSELF?

I remember dropping the needle on "Hotel California". Hearing a song that had no antecedent. "How Long" literally IS an antecedent.

This is important. Because if our heroes capitulate, if they give up the ghost, shrug their shoulders and do what’s expedient, we’ve got nothing to believe in. And I need to believe. I’m a believer.

Last night in Memphis

I tried to listen to rock music today. I needed it to soothe my soul. But all the songs on the ten plus XM rock channels didn’t float my boat, I had to go back to country.

I just heard Lucinda Williams on X Country, "Change The Locks". I don’t love that cut, but you know she means it. That she wasn’t worried about the marketplace, radio, she was singing from the heart. And that’s why she’s got such diehard fans.

And when Lucinda was done, I pushed the button to go to Highway 16. And, once there, I heard something new, but familiar. It was Little Big Town’s NEW SINGLE!

Remember when you heard new music on the radio? When you listened to hear new music on the radio? When radio was the drum?

I got that same rush I got back in the sixties, when Cousin Brucie spun that wax.

When I heard "I’m With The Band" in concert, at first I thought it was a bit pedestrian, another road song. But, the changes and the emotion, they GOT TO ME!

And hearing the song on the radio just now, I felt that bond, between me, the act and the deejay. We’re all in it together. We’re all with the band. We want to put on our outfit, go to the gig and LOSE OURSELVES! We don’t want to see any beer signs, no endorsements. Hell, I ain’t got no endorsements. In the over-commercialized world they’ve removed the soul from the music. It’s just fodder for money. And money never kept you warm at night, money never kept you from committing suicide, money can’t buy you love! But music can do all those things. Music can make your live worthwhile, no matter how financially rich you are, no matter what your circumstances, it’s a cheap drug. But the drug’s got to be pure, or else it doesn’t get you high.

Is "I’m With The Band" legendary? As good as any of the Eagles’ hits? NO! But it’s the next track by a band I’m INTO! I’m a FAN! You’ve heard of fans, HAVEN’T YOU?

A fan is someone who buys all your records and goes to your show, even if you’re no longer the flavor of the moment, even if the machine has passed you by. Radio is not a fan. Budweiser is not a fan. Les Moonves is not a fan. Judy McGrath either. Nor SoundScan. Not even Clive Davis. They’re just business people! The fan is that nameless person who knows your birthday, your spouse’s moniker, even though you’ve never even met them. You’re part of their life. Every decision you make impacts your relationship. So, guard this relationship CLOSELY!

Little Big Town could have covered an EAGLES song. Got it in a movie, maybe as the theme of a TV show. They could have been in "People", "Us", maybe even the "National Enquirer". The members could be seen partying with Paris. Maybe even Nicole. They could take marketing lessons from Pete Wentz. They could be JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE!

What did my father say? Just because everybody else jumps off a bridge, does that mean you should too?

First and foremost, you’re a person. With an identity, a personality. Compromise this at your peril. It’s all you’ve got, after the revolution, when you’re in jail, it’s the only thing that’s going to get you through. Big media tells us it’s all right to dash for cash. That you’re nothing without the marketing monolith. That’s a bunch of HOGWASH! Now, more than ever, the individual has power, he can reach his audience, he can make fans, that’s what the Internet has wrought. Seize this opportunity, don’t blink. Go into the wilderness, don’t play by the rules. The old game is rotten.

You won’t have any trouble finding Little Big Town’s MySpace page. And when you get there, you’ll see that "I’m With The Band" has just about as many plays as "How Long". Is that because the band are good-looking youngsters with barely pubescent airhead followers who have nothing to do but surf all afternoon? No! The band members are pushing forty. Charisma is not their number one asset. That’s music. It always comes down to the music.

The Eagles have got Wal-Mart, and some airplay, but they’re sorely lacking in the music department. "How Long" adds nothing to my life, no insight, it doesn’t deliver what I’m looking for. Who would predict that Don Henley and company would punt so badly.

Let’s just hope the rest of the album is better. Hell, "Hotel California"’s first track was "New Kid In Town". But that was back when you got a year’s worth of airplay, when radio changed cuts every few months, when music ruled the world.

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