So this past Sunday, Julie and I left Charlotte immediately after the third service at Good Shepherd and drove down to Atlanta for a Don Henley concert.
It was my Christmas present — maybe my best one ever. Henley, former drummer & vocalist of the Eagles, whose solo career contains my favorite music, had a tour stop at the renown Fox Theater in Atlanta … and Julie, whose love language is gifts, gobbled up a pair of really good seats.
So what are my observations from a night being like a kid in a (rock) candy store? Here are my top five:
1. I am the Don Henley demographic. The audience was full of people who came of age in the 70s, who don’t bring marijuana to concerts, and who think they are being oh-so-trendy by taking an Uber ride to get there (had my first one that night, by the way, and it was flawless). And, yes, the crowd was overwhelmingly Anglo … a Don Henley concert is evidently not a full on, full color experience like a certain church I know.
2.Henley must feel so proud and grateful for his large catalogue of memorable songs. Whether it was 70s Eagles’ hits like “Witchy Woman” and “One Of These Nights” or solo songs like “The Heart Of The Matter” and “The End Of The Innocence,” people immediately began singing along. These songs and others have become part of the collective fabric of many, many lives. So I was thinking during the concert, “he must feel so good about his body of work and how it continues to resonate with the deepest parts of people’s lives.”
3. Some people get their Eagles confused. Early on, a woman behind me said to her friend, “When he does ‘Take It Easy’ the crowd will go crazy.” Well, no, that Eagles song featured lead vocals by the late Glenn Frey. A bit later, as Henley was introducing a song with a lengthy tale about meeting a woman in a bar in 1973, the same woman exclaimed, “Oh, it’s ‘Lyin’ Eyes’!” Right decade, right setting, wrong singer. Again Frey sang lead on that one.
4. “The Last Resort” is epic live. The song Henley introduced with the woman-in-a-bar story was in fact The Last Resort, which is the seven minute closing track on the Hotel California album. For years, Eagles fans have known and loved this reflection on manifest destiny but neither the band nor Henley have been eager to play it live. That’s changed on this tour, and the results are simply astounding. If Hotel California is the Eagles Stairway To Heaven, then The Last Resort is its Kashmir – a sweeping, panoramic tour de force of melody, rhythm, and lyric. The closing line is brutal to the church but brilliant in its execution.
5. 1985 was a great year. Towards the end of the show, Henley and his band did a cover of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” followed immediately by “The Boys Of Summer.” The latter song, which is my favorite of all time, was released in late ’84 but achieved its greatest popularity in 1985. Ah, the 80s.
6. A cell phone surprise. Henley’s antipathy towards cell phones is well known. So if any in the audience had theirs on during the show, security — AKA, cell phone police — were quick to insist they be put away. But as the concert began, Henley offered us a deal: “if you keep your phones in your pockets during the show, I’ll let you pull them out during the song about the hotel. Because Google always needs more content.” So here goes: