The Best Of My Love


There’s a giant hole in my life where Trump and his attendant news used to fit. I’m glad it’s gone, but I’m not quite sure what to fill it with. I still read the newspapers cover to cover, but all those news podcasts… That’s a funny thing about news outlets, they function every day, they keep on publishing whether the world blew up or the president got a hangnail. Don’t get me wrong, I like it this way, but what am I going to do with all the time I now have?

Joe Biden is better than anticipated, but the Republicans are worse. Did you hear about Pennsylvania, where they’re trying to have judges elected by gerrymandered districts? Rust never sleeps, nor do the Republicans. The best thing I’ve seen on this is the first five minutes of Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight.” The Republicans lose and are gung ho. The Democrats rest on their laurels and are still afraid of their shadows. Check it out here: John Oliver is a master.

So, it seems like I’ve contradicted myself, but not really. I go hiking and I’m starved for entertainment. Sounds antithetical, I know, but… We are not in the golden age of podcasts. We are in the golden age of podcast PRODUCTION, but not podcast content. What we’ve got is a pale imitation of thirties and forties radio. Mostly crime stories. Sort of a bad “Dateline” ad infinitum. And too many of the interview podcasts have bad interviewers. Let the damn guest talk, they’re who we want to hear.

As for music…

Playlists, the scourge of the music business. The hit to crap ratio is so bad… They’ve got to fire all the curators, they’re TERRIBLE! Just because they put out new music every week doesn’t mean it’s good, does not mean we need to hear any of it. A curator should be just that, someone who separates the wheat from the chaff, serves the listener not the label, who creates an intriguing list of songs that take the listener on a journey. Instead, all we’ve got is an ode to the skip button. They make new music look bad. I don’t want to hear a pale imitation of Joni Mitchell, I want to hear Joni Mitchell! But no one is that good anymore. I think about it all the time. They’re imitators instead of innovators. And they haven’t practiced enough, haven’t paid enough dues. And they don’t know about hooks and they don’t know how to finish a song. They’ll write a good verse and then a lousy chorus, or vice versa. And there’s rarely a bridge. There, did I put everybody in the ground, are you happy? Are you mad at me? And while I’m at it, what’s wrong with melody? To paraphrase Robert Plant, does anybody remember melody?

So I decide to go back to the oldies. I’m hiking last night and I pull up Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bookends,” one of the best albums ever made. Quick, name me something comparable today! Absolutely impossible. Forget “Mrs. Robinson,” how about the innovation of “Save the Life of My Child,” never mind the encapsulation of sixties wanderlust in “America,” Paul Simon channeled the zeitgeist.

And my plan, when it was over, was to call out to Siri to play “Parsley Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” But before I could do this, Apple Music slid into “Rocket Man.”

Yes, that’s a new feature of streaming services. If you don’t shut them off, they go on their merry way, providing songs in the genre of those you picked previously. Actually, I normally have repeat checked, and this does not occur, but last night I did not, and I heard Elton’s “Rocket Man.” Do I ever need to hear “Rocket Man” ever again? Not really. But I love the synths, so I stayed with it. That’s another thing, once you start fast-forwarding you lose the plot. It needs to be like radio, where you’ve got no choice, where you endure, waiting for the next song to appear.

And then a few songs later, I realize I’m going to hit a dead zone. Either I needed to pull up “Parsley, Sage…” right away or stick with Siri’s suggestions. What the hell, I decided to stay with the latter, for the sake of surprise, and that’s when I heard “The Best of My Love.”


The second Eagles album was a stiff. Which was quite surprising because the first one was such a success. There was a ton of ink, about the plot line, the photo shoot, but the album came out and…nothing. Now almost fifty years later, one can argue quite strongly that “Desperado” is the best pre-Joe Walsh Eagles album. As a matter of fact, it contains the second most legendary Eagles song, the one that was not a single, but is the encore for every concert, “Desperado.” Come on, you can hear those intro piano notes in your head right now, right?

Well, maybe you hate the Eagles. Fine, they don’t need you. That’s what people don’t realize, you can be hated by some and still have a huge, significant career. Then again, unless you’re mega-successful, people don’t really bother hating you anyway.

So, the first Eagles album was a triumph. It was led by the single “Take It Easy,” which was made for AM in an era where FM was everything, but not everybody owned an FM radio. As for the album, it was equally satisfying. “Witchy Woman” was haunting, “Earlybird” uplifting and unique, and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” another smash.

But as time was passing, tastes were changing, FM started to get harder. Whereas the Eagles were seen as somewhat soft, they were not a natural fit. Which contributed to the lack of success of the “Desperado” album. As for “Tequila Sunrise”… You might know it by heart, but it was not a big hit in ’73, it only made it to #64 on the Hot 100. Only #26 on AC. No, that track got traction when the Eagles became everything, after the triumph of 1975’s “One of These Nights” album, when the Eagles legend was cemented, when they owned both radio bands, when the album sold and sold, when it was ubiquitous, after the band started working with Bill Szymczyk, and the music had a harder edge.

Actually, that edge started to display itself in “On the Border,” the band’s third album, but that album started off slowly, whereas “One of These Nights” jumped straight out of the box with the title track, it was undeniable.

So the first two singles from “On the Border” were Glenn Frey songs. It was his voice that was emblematic of the Eagles for those listening to singles, as opposed to those who might have purchased the albums. I don’t think, and didn’t think, either “Already Gone” or “James Dean” were natural singles. To make an impact you need a 9, something that is not fodder for the airwaves, but something different, something outstanding. And if you can provide a 10, then you have a recurrent, a song everybody knows and never forgets that never ever really leaves the public consciousness, like “The Best of My Love.”

“Already Gone” made it to #32 on the Hot 100. And unless you made it to #20, maybe #15, that meant most stations in America were not playing it. There were a hundred songs on the chart, but big stations played maybe fifteen.

As for “James Dean,” that did even worse, it got to #77. Once again, the Eagles had whiffed. It looked like they could not ever match their first album’s commercial success. But then they brought out their secret weapon, Don Henley.

The Eagles were seen as Frey’s band. Henley was the drummer. How many drummers even sang lead? Well, there was that guy in Rare Earth…

As for Eagles photographs, it was hard to tell the members apart, they were all long-haired hippies, and their pictures weren’t even on the cover of the first and third albums.

Now the truth is the first and second albums were produced by Glyn Johns. And the Eagles chafed under his direction. They wanted to rock harder. And they were right, ergo the success of what came after, most especially “Hotel California.” So, fearful of another stiff album, they swiched horses to Szymczyk in the middle of recording “On the Border,” but two songs remained from the Johns sessions, one of those was “The Best of My Love.” And after the first two Frey singles didn’t break the bank, six months after “On the Border” had been released, the label put out “The Best of My Love.” And it went all the way to #1.


“The Best of My Love” was not jaunty like what had come before. Not upbeat and optimistic, not macho. Rather “The Best of My Love” was heartfelt. It was open and honest, women could relate.

“Every night I’m lying in bed

Holding you close in my dreams

Thinking about all the things that we said

And coming apart at the seams”

Don Henley was evidencing VULNERABILITY! There’s nothing a woman wants more in a relationship. Henley was on his way to idol status. But also it was his voice, smooth yet with a rough element, a bit of sandpaper that gave it an element of distinction, this was just not some studio singer, a guy singing somebody else’s song, this guy felt it, he lived it.

So I’m just at the verge of the dead zone. It’s my last chance to switch to “Parsley, Sage…” And I can’t fast-forward in the dead zone. There’s not enough of a buffer. I’ve got to live with what’s coming down the pike, like it or not. And I hear that acoustic guitar intro and…do I want to hear “The Best of My Love”?

I know what it is instantly. God, there’s not a baby boomer alive who doesn’t know that intro.

But now it’s dark. And I’m disconnected from the pinball machine of life. It’s just me and the trail and the sky. So I decide to let it play. And “The Best of My Love” reveals itself in a way it never has previously.

That’s the funny thing about songs. You can hear them to the point of intolerance and then decades later they come up and you gain new insights. You’ve got a few more miles on you, you’ve had more experiences, you can suddenly see what the writers saw. And that’s another thing, how did these songwriters know so much at such a young age?

“We try to talk it over

But the words come out too rough”

You know that moment… You’re lying in bed, or sitting in the living room. The yelling has stopped. And then, just when it appears that calmness will reign…someone says something and the yelling starts once again, and that’s when you say something you cannot take back, something that hurts, something that sticks with the other person.

“Beautiful faces

And loud empty places

Look at the way that we live

Wasting our time on cheap talk and wine

Left us so little to give”

The rock star lifestyle. It sounds good to many. Then again, everybody in America seems to think they’re a rock star anyway. They go to the bar to have a good time and… Bottom line, you have experiences but little intimacy. You’re together but you’re not. You’ve got history, but little personal story.

“That same old crowd

Was like a cold dark cloud

That we could never rise above”

You can get caught up in your group, especially when you’re young. It’s a roving party. And this was before everybody became Alex P. Keaton, went straight, put on a suit and tried to get rich. The early seventies were a laid back version of the sixties. No one was going anywhere fast, it was about life, experience. The hang was everything.

And then there’s a bridge, a lost formula that today’s acts are seemingly unaware of, never mind don’t employ.

“I’m going back in time

And it’s a sweet dream

It was a quiet night

And I would be all right

If I could go on sleeping”

Henley becomes even MORE intimate. His voice rises, he’s testifying, he’s reflecting, something too many males do not. It was great, but then too much happened, true identities came out, there was no way to put it back together again.

“But every morning

I wake up and worry

What’s gonna happen today

You see it your way

And I see it mine

But we both see it slippin’ away”

You’ve been there. You’re still together, but you’re pullling apart. If you just stay quiet and go through the motions, everything’s okay. But people didn’t do this in the seventies, the goal was to be your fully realized self and find your soulmate, desperation never figured in.

“You know we always had each other baby

I guess that wasn’t enough”

Not enough. When you realize that… You don’t want to, you want to continue blindly, but you can’t. Oftentimes both people know it’s impossible, sometimes only one. But when you see the future as fraught if you remain a couple, you know it’s just a matter of when it ends.

“Oh, but here in my heart

I give you the best of my love”

Well, maybe Don Henley can do this. Maybe some men can do this. But the truth is someone always gets the short end of the stick, breakups are never mutual, one of the partners always wants to give it another chance. But after all the fights, after the history, it’s too late. And the leaver might be able to be generous, but the left usually is not sanguine, there’s a heavy dose of resentment, which often goes on for far too long.

Then again, a song is a fantasy. You can plug it into your own life and dream. Maybe that’s the way they really feel about you.

“Oh, sweet darling…”

Henley’s gentle. Too many men are physical, nonverbal. But here’s this guy who’s cracked open his heart, who’s telling his story honestly, as if it’s the most important thing to him…and you know it’s the most important thing to her.


“The Best of My Love” changed everything for the Eagles. “On the Border” sold two million copies. The album wove its way into the fabric of America. It sustained.

And then came “One of These Nights.”

Now the first single was a Henley song, the title track, dark and edgy, this was a rock song by a band too often seen as soft country rock.

“One of these nights

One of these crazy old nights

We’re gonna find out pretty mama

What turns on your lights”

This is the flip side. Sure, women want men who are open, honest and forthright, but they also want to be taken on an adventure, especially when their needs are catered to, when the man does his best to penetrate her identity, discover what makes her tick, push the button and deliver what she desires.

But the chorus…

“Ooh, someone to be kind to

In between the dark and the light”

There was that sweet vocal sensibility from “The Best of My Love.” “One of These Nights” was both hard and soft.

“I’ve been searching for the daughter of the devil himself

I’ve been searching for an angel in white

I’ve been waiting for a woman who’s a little of both

And I can feel her but she’s nowhere in sight”

HERE I AM! Millions of women were now ready to volunteer, they wanted to join Don Henley and the Eagles on this ride, they were primed and ready. And confident. Henley was speaking to them as an adult, which is how they saw themselves, WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?

Turns out not much. “One of These Nights” sold and sold and sold. Then a greatest hits album compiled from the first four LPs was released and it became the best selling album of ALL TIME!

But then there was a complete surprise.

Sure, the Eagles had gotten rockier, with more punch and more edge. But the country element was still there, on a long continuum from Gram Parsons to Poco to…

There were great expectations. And as a result, the first single went all the way to #1. But “New Kid in Town” was more of a Glenn Frey song. Frey was the lead singer, but as the song wore on you heard Don Henley in the background vocals, and you also heard Don Felder’s biting guitar. “New Kid in Town” was a blend between the old and the new. The Eagles of the greatest hits album and…an underlying rock element.

And then came…

Many people bought the new album without hearing it first, and when they dropped the needle…

This was the era of big rig stereos, you needed to get closer to the sound. And the intro was delectable, and then the drum hit and it was HOTEL CALIFORNIA!

Ultimately the Eagles most famous song. Don Henley’s songwriting and singing chops were now fully developed, and rather than resting on his laurels, he pushed the envelope, both lyrically and vocally, and the guitar playing and…sometimes you only need to hear a song once, and then you need to hear it immediately once again, and again and again and again. That was “Hotel California.” Mix in “Life in the Fast Lane” and “Victim of Love” and Don Henley was the sound of the radio, his voice emanated from speakers for a year straight. And “Wasted Time” was “The Best of My Love” on steroids, anything but wimpy, maybe one of the best songs reflecting on a breakup ever.

But it all started with “The Best of My Love,” that was the turning point.

And I liked it when I bought the album, and I know it by heart, but I never really understood it until last night. Because in 1974 I had not lived with a girl. I had not had a serious breakup. I thought I knew what life was about, but I didn’t.

Don Henley knew more.

He gave us the best of his love.

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