Part of Me, Part of You

I know a fair number of people don’t like The Eagles, and that’s fair. Taste is subjective, is shaped by a great number of things. I grew up outside of Austin, Texas and later lived near Dallas, and country music and classic rock were the staples of my childhood.

My parents have an extensive record collection. I figured out how to work the turn table when I was three, and there were three albums I liked to play: Jimmy Buffett’s Volcano, Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and Wings, and The Eagles’ Greatest Hits 1971–1975. I had loads of Disney records, Strawberry Shortcake, The Smurfs, but I wanted the grown-up stuff.

That Eagles album . . . Of course every kid my age whose parents had it remembers how freaked out they were by the skull on the cover. And I entertained myself by picking out the various vocals, learning the names of who was who and being able to identify them when I heard them.

I wasn’t even five years old when The Eagles broke up, so I wasn’t really aware of them not existing because in my world they did exist through all their songs. As a pre-teen I would identify more with Don Henley, but later I would count Glenn Frey’s Strange Weather as one of my favorite CDs. And his cover of “Wild Mountain Thyme” remains one of the best. I also loved him on Miami Vice and was possibly one of the only people to enjoy South of Sunset. Yes, that one episode.

In 1994, I gleefully attended Hell freezing over. When they also played Memorial Stadium at UT, I didn’t have tickets but was able to listen from the dorm room. And then . . . I stopped listening to The Eagles and moved on to whatever else. I left childhood behind, the things that used to speak to me, and found new sounds that refreshed different parts of my spirit. That’s how it feels anyway. Like listening to the same things over and over had worn down a spot of my soul and I needed to then move on to a different spot else I was going to end up with a hole in myself.

But yesterday Glenn Frey passed away. At the age of 67. Not so much older than my own dad. And I find those songs that I so loved flooding back in. Those spots in me no longer feel worn thin. I’m able to listen again to The Eagles and enjoy them rather than feeling tired of them. It’s only sad it took someone dying to cause that.

Or maybe it isn’t.

Maybe we live in cycles. Maybe we start somewhere, go through a few different things, then come back around. Maybe Yeats was right about the gyre, in which case Mr. Frey’s passing is just a touchpoint on the tightening coil meant to coincide with my coming back to this place in my life.

I dunno. But today I’ll be reloading my iPod with some songs I haven’t listened to in literally years. In my opinion, music needs to make you feel something in order to work properly. After years of The Eagles, the songs had become so common to me that I no longer felt them. But I think there’s no question I’ll feel something now.

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