Years before popular opinion determined that any “true” music lover must hate Nickelback, there was the Eagles.

“Totally commercial!” the pundits screamed. “Boring and predictable.” Complaints ranged from a supposed lack of sophistication to my personal favorite, “Too California.”

Well…yeah.

Part of my affection for the Eagles is purely a matter of timing. I got my driver’s license about the time their most iconic album, Hotel California, hit the airwaves. Our family car’s AM radio only got one strong station in the small southern town where I lived and, like every other teen driver in town, I cranked “Life In The Fast Lane” up to maximum volume and drove way too fast down back roads, singing at the top of my lungs. As for the title track, what kid living in a small town in the middle of nowhere didn’t want to drive down a dark desert highway and smell whatever the hell “colitas” was? For everyone who didn’t actually live there (and plenty who did), California represented ultimate coolness.

Too California? No such thing.

I don’t know if my decision to move to Southern California in my mid-twenties was influenced by my love for the Eagles but once I arrived, their music always felt like the soundtrack for my life. In the beach town where I lived, I didn’t have to defend the band — their songs were everywhere.

Oh, and I finally found out what “colitas” is.

When some of the members started putting out solo albums in the mid-eighties, the haters jumped right on that bandwagon. Despite the huge success of Don Henley’s 1984 release, Building the Perfect Beast, the critics once again panned it. Henley’s solo work even inspired a song, “Don Henley Must Die,” by self-described “psychobilly” artist Mojo Nixon.

The fans didn’t care. “The Boys of Summer” just confirmed our California-ness, and we bought Wayfarer sunglasses and wore them unironically as we cruised on Pacific Coast Highway. Glen Frey was so cool he got to be on Miami Vice and put out a music video inspired by the character he played for his 1984 single, “Smuggler’s Blues.”

So, when the Eagles announced that their upcoming tour would include a start-to-finish performance of the entire Hotel California album, my instant reaction was “Oh, HELL yes!”

And I’m not the only one.

 

 

The Eagles

 

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