"It Feels Like Last Week"
Author: Robert J. Hawkins
Publication: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Date: July 1, 1994
Abstract: The Eagles answer questions about their reunion. There is a tense moment when the Greatest Hits package from Elektra is discussed. They later filed suit to keep that release from happening.
TAKE NOTE, surviving Beatles: One benefit of the Eagles reunion is that, after 14 years of speculation, Glenn Frey and Don Henley need no longer endure questions about when the band will get back together.
"That's a question I won't get asked for a while," said Frey with a laugh. "That part is good. You betcha."
The next question is . . .
". . . is How long will we last?' " Frey said, finishing the question.
He knows it all too well.
They all do. Frey, Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Don Felder. Since their acrimonious breakup 14 years ago, everything they have done as individuals has been measured against what they once did collectively.
They have all attempted solo careers, none that gleamed as brightly as the Eagles. And now, older and wiser, do they still have what it takes?
The fans who have been buying out their shows on this summer's reunion tour apparently think so. But then, for the Eagles' fans, the relationship has always been as enduring as the music.
The release last October of the all-star, all-country tribute "Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles" was a wake-up call for Frey and Henley, selling more than 3 million copies.
"I think the Common Thread' album gave us an indication of how popular our music still is," said Frey. The album also provided an impetus for the reunion.
When Common Thread' participant Travis Tritt wanted the Eagles to back him up on the video for his cover of "Take It Easy," his manager, Ken Kragen, placed a call to Henley, a personal friend.
Henley and Frey both declined at first. Henley finally said yes to a video concept in which he and Frey ended up wrestling on a dirt floor while the rest of the band played on. Frey didn't like the concept, but numerous calls later, a video was born.
"I think the Travis Tritt video provided up with a reason to get back together and see each other in a situation where there wasn't a tremendous amount of pressure," said Frey.
"It was nice that we were able to just get together and enjoy ourselves, enjoy each other. From there, I think Irving (Azoff, longtime Eagles manager) started stirring things up."
Any questions about their ability to pull off a reunion were resolved April 25 on Sound Stage 18 of the Warner Bros. studio in Burbank, Calif. The band performed a concert that was filmed for a future "MTV Unplugged" - their first show in 14 years. By the eighth song, "Hotel California," the Eagles were back, harmonies locked and guitars on full assault, sounding as if they had never been gone.
It was the first of two shows to be taped for MTV, and it came off very well. After the show, Henley, Frey and Schmit sat down to talk about the reunion.
Q: So how long will the Eagles stick together this time?
Frey: This project probably has a beginning, a middle and an end. But this is so close to the beginning that I don't see an end yet. Anything is possible.
We have a huge tour that will probably last us through October. Then, I think, we'll probably talk about playing in Asia. December is usually a good time to go over there. From there, we just don't know.
Q: What was the biggest hurdle to reuniting?
Frey: Probably getting me sincerely interested, getting me to commit. This tour isn't about money - it's about friendship. If you are going to be in a band, you have to have friendship, mutual respect, consideration. You have to have empathy.
Frey: Yeah, you have to have patience. A lot of things you don't have to bring to the table if you are the boss, but to function in a band, we all had to get on the same page and get very serious about this. Just make sure that we're all that for each other.
Q: Why start off with a television special that will be seen by millions?
Frey: Well, it guess it's the acid test.
Henley: Temporary insanity.
Q: Was the band nervous about performing live after only a few weeks' rehearsal?
Henley: Yeah, I didn't sleep well at all. I woke up at 6 a.m. still trying to finish that song ("Learn to Be Still," on which Henley forgot the words). I was scrolling varous lyric combinations through my head.
Schmit: We had already apologized to each other yesterday for all the mistakes we'd make today. We covered that. Very nervous.
Henley: Until we got to "Hotel California."
Q: After all that time apart, did the band have a lot to work out musically?
Frey: There was a lot of ring rust. I mean, Don does certain Eagles songs in his show a certain way. I do certain songs in my show my way. We had to bring it back to the way the Eagles do things.
There were quite a few times in the first week of rehearsal when we said, "Play the record again. What did we do there?" Oddly enough, it took just a few days to get back into it.
Q: Do you feel uncomfortable with any of the older material?
Henley: No, we got rid of all those before we broke up.
Schmit: I told them I can't do "Take It to the Limit."
Frey: Not because it isn't a good song but because that's sort of Randy Meisner's territory and he (Schmit) doesn't want to step on it. But there are songs from the old days that we refer to as "cringe worthy.
Q: Speaking of Randy Meisner (replaced by Schmit in 1977), what about including him and Bernie Leadon (replaced by Walsh in 1975)? Any thoughts on bringing them into the reunion?
Henley: It's hard enough doing this. I think Irv (Azoff) might have received some calls from someone representing them, but this is the band. Randy and Bernie were part of that history, then they chose other paths. That's that.
Q: The "Unplugged" shows were recorded for an album, but whose? Geffen? Elektra? Warner?
Frey: This recording that we're making now needs to find a home. But I'm confident that now that these shows have taken place, there will be a record. I think that everybody will line up and figure this stuff out.
Q: Is there any old material lying around that could be used on an album.
Frey: (tersely) We have no material.
Henley: No material left over from anything.
Henley: Believe me, Elektra has combed through every note, trying to find . . .
Schmit: There were a few tracks floating around that had no lyrics. They weren't used the first time. They're gone.
Henley: (with a laugh) You want to zip it?
Schmit: Oh, OK.
Henley: We have nothing to say right now about our greatest-hits package or Elektra Records.
(Since this interview, the Eagles have filed suit to stop Elektra from releasing a new greatest-hits package and have won a temporary restraining order. The live album is due in September on an as-yet-unnamed label. Meanwhile, Henley is tied up in a lawsuit with Geffen Records and Frey is in a lawsuit with MCA Records.)
Q: As the "Common Thread" album indicates, many of today's "New Country" performers tip their creative hats to the Eagles. But the same album could have been made by rock bands. Are the Eagles rock or New Country?
Frey: This New Country actually started with Alabama, but there is a lot of emphasis on harmony, group singing that we picked up from the Dillards and the Beach Boys and a couple of other bands.
We had our country-rock period in our first three and a half albums. We wanted to become more of a rock 'n' roll band. We added Don Felder. We added Joe Walsh. We realized the great blues singer in Don Henley.
We were just sort of exploring all the possibilities. Everybody's voice sort of fits certain material. My singing is more toward country-rock singing than the other guys. We're just a band band.
Q. You're writing songs together again. How is it going?
Henley: Glenn and I just found out we can still write together, that we've still got that thing going.
Frey: Don and I are just getting rolling and wish we had more time for songwriting and that the tour hadn't come upon us so fast.
Henley: We have a silent way of writing songs. I give him books and he gives me books. We don't say anything, but we know that when we get a book from the other guy that it is a message. There is a song in that book somewhere.
Q: How does it feel to be back on stage as the Eagles?
Henley: It feels like last week. . . . I wasn't worried about these guys. I was worried about me, worried about what screw-ups I was going to make. But it really doesn't feel like 14 years have gone by. It seems like maybe two or three.