By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Although the ancient philosopher Mojo Nixon maintained that “Don Henley must die,” I for one am glad that the once but not necessarily future Eagle will turn 53 next month and will also be performing at Universal Amphitheater on July 15th and 16th. Perhaps it’s because the Eagles‘ Their Greatest Hits was the first album I ever got for Christmas, or maybe it’s because my eighth-grade English teacher had us listen to and then discuss the song “Hotel California,” but whatever the reason, I‘ve always loved the Eagles and thought anybody who didn’t was, as Henley says, “just jealous ‘cause we got all the girls.” In 1980, in fact, when I was 16 years old, I wanted to be like Don Henley so badly (and separate myself from both the punk nerds and metal stoners so desperately) that I -- I can’t believe I‘m admitting this -- I got a perm. Actually, I didn’t get the perm until the end of summer in 1981, the day I left for college -- that way nobody I knew would ever see it and everybody I was about to meet would never know.
But either way, it was Henley‘s fault. I wasn’t a drummer or a singer, let alone a drummer-slash-singer, I just thought Henley and his curly locks looked cool in a simple, neither new-wave nor hippie kind of way in the gatefold photo of The Long Run LP -- an LP that was doomed to be overshadowed by its predecessor, Hotel California, and dismissed by fan and foe alike. But it was an album nonetheless that spoke to me as few have before or since, a ideal record for this loner teen that coupled typical Eagles soft-pop tunes (“Heartache Tonight,” “I Can‘t Tell You Why,” “Sad Cafe” and the title track) with atypical evil hard-rock ones, truly dark and messed-up shit like the talkbox-guitar tour de force “Those Shoes” (which Beastie Boys sampled to great effect), the zap-on-Zep “Teenage Jail” (with its great Glenn Frey synth solo), the sexy not sexist “King of Hollywood” (which, just so you know, did not make me want to grow up and be like the song’s casting-couch cretin protagonist) and, my personal favorite, the combination anti--Bee Geesanti--Richard Ramirez rant “The Disco Strangler.” That Charles Young‘s Rolling Stone cover story at the time wasn’t entirely sympathetic and Robert Hilburn‘s L.A. Times review of The Long Run not entirely positive only confused and enthused me that much more. Plus, at the time I was being cuckolded by our high school’s homecoming queen (talk about “heartache tonight”), who of course I idiotically took to an Eagles concert at the Forum, where some weirdo (later I realized it was Roy Orbison) was the opening act and for some reason began and ended his set by piping the theme from Star Trek over the PA. The Eagles, meanwhile, opened their set with “Hotel California,” Henley providing the two telltale rasta tomtom knocks after the Tex Mex acoustic guitar intro and commencing to sing from behind his kit -- probably the single ballsiest thing I‘ve ever seen any band do (start their concert with what for any other outfit would be a no-brainer encore).
By 1990 I was in a position to try and get back at Young and Hilburn by praising Henley’s last solo LP, The End of the Innocence, in, of all places, The Village Voice. Young wrote a testy letter to the editor, Rolling Stone stopped returning my phone calls (Anthony DeCurtis, you schmuck!), but Henley had the review framed -- or so he said when I snuck backstage with my friend Jake at Saturday Night Live and we bum-rushed the startled artist.
But now it‘s 2000 and my friend Jake is dead of an overdose and I feel as if I’m even older and more in the way than Henley, who boasts that he‘s in the best shape of his life as a result of lifting weights and doing 30 minutes of aerobics each day (on the current tour he jokingly assures the audience that “I could kick your ass”). Anyway, the reason I know this last is because the other day I finally, after all these years, got to speak with my hero at a length, albeit over the phone, and came away with renewed respect for a superduper star who bummed me out a bit with the Eagles reunion shows in 1994, which led to the half-assed Hell Freezes Over record . . . which is another way of saying I feared Henley’d become a turkey -- and not just because the last song on his remarkably adult new album is a reassuringly adolescent swipe at Glenn Frey called “My Thanksgiving.”
And as for that new record, Inside Job, I was afraid that I wouldn‘t like it either, that I’ve become too jaded to enjoy Henley‘s excruciating sincerity. So I felt obligated to tell him upfront that I was hoping it would sound like Sweetheart of the Rodeo (to which he replied, “Oh, brother, this is 2000, you know!”). I also told him I was upset that he only drums on a couple of tracks and that the embarrassingly ’80s (or is it ‘90s?) slap-snare sounds ruin, for example, the righteous Stevie Wonder clavinet in “Nobody Else in the World but You” (to which he replied, ever so politely, “Personally, I think a lot of the drum sounds on those Eagles records were shitty, but you’re entitled to your opinion”). Nevertheless, after listening to Inside Job some more, I‘ve fallen back in love. In particular, the subtler, softer numbers are all better than the ballads from the last record, especially “Damn It, Rose,” which tempers its jabs at Generation Y with humility and candor: “We’re being treated to the wisdomof some puffed-up little fartdoing exactly what I used to dopretensions to anarchy and to art.”