Eagles Live – Musical Memories

“Two chewed, one stolen, leaving this one running strong – Eagles Live IV – Winnipeg, Manitoba”

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Recently I found these words that I had written in my cassette copy of Eagles Live. I purchased it as I waited for a train to take me to Portage La Prairie a very long time ago… (1985). It was the beginning of a journey that saw me through most of my 18th year – Katimavik.  It was a youth volunteer program that saw participants doing work throughout the country and even had a military option, which I was chosen for.

I walked up to the counter at the train station and in my best (which was horrible) French accent asked for a ticket to Portage La Prairie, a city that until only a couple days previous I had never even heard of. The guy behind the counter snickered at me as if I was from Mars – “You mean Portage?”

Me – “Sure.”

Him – “Here”

Me – “Could you tell me where the nearest record store is?”

Him – “It’s out there” (pointing at the door)

Me – “Um. Thanks. That’s very helpful.

Him – “You’re welcome”

Somehow I seem to just bring out the best in people.

Fortunately, the people outside were more helpful and I found my way to the record store. My copy got chewed in my Walkman during the flight from Toronto to Winnipeg, and not having it would be like a three year old having his Teddy confiscated… all, my security in the world just gone. This wouldn’t do.

While I didn’t realize it then, the Eagles in general and more specifically Eagles Live was like a lifeline to social well being. Nobody I knew hated the Eagles. Every teen and adult and… well, everybody liked them. During my “oh woes me” – “teenangsty” – depression filled adolescence, they gave me a social tool to talk about something other than my lack of a meaningful life. So damn, I began to know this band inside out. I owned the James Gang and Walsh solo material. I had seen Henley, Frey and Walsh on their own tours and knew who was backing them on the stage. I could tell you their past bands, who co-wrote what songs and their earlier influences… let’s face it – I was an Eagles geek. Sure you could find a lot of other music with me. I was a big music fan and could be found pontificating about the finer points of Van Halen, or Springsteen; maybe waxing poetic about Hendrix or the depth of the Beatles, but at this point in my life, the Eagles were my favorite band.

This cassette saw me move from November frost bite in Manitoba to a food poisoning Christmas in Quebec and finally rappelling of cliffs outside Victoria, British Columbia. It was my personal soundtrack to entertain myself as I got stuck doing ‘kit musters’. Yep, as a part of the Canadian Armed Forces – Naval Reserves, I found myself in minor trouble on a few occasions and ‘kit musters’ were the punishment. This involved your superior ripping apart your locker and bed and then you had to fix it and stand at attention while it was inspected and ripped apart again.

Much to everyone’s delight, I would put Eagles Live on the little tape deck, and go about my punishment with a smile, shutting it off only a few seconds before inspection. It was a little dance played out numerous times. The last few notes of “Life’s Been Good” would ring and I’d shut the deck off and a second or two later someone would arrive. They would leave, side two would start and by the time “Take It Easy” let out the last chords, it was time for another inspection.

Even at the end of the program, as I took a bus from Victoria to Toronto, it was the music of these guys that got me through. Walsh’s The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get and Barnstorm, Henley’s Building The Perfect Beast, The Souther Hillman Furay Band, Jackson Browne’s Running On Empty and the Eagles.

Like the three year old in need of the teddy, I eventually stopped my obsessive need to use the Eagles as a crutch as I found other music and artists. Actually, I found a whole lot more music and artists. The Eagles became more of a name amongst many in an ever growing music collection… but recently, I started looking back. So when I spotted used copy of Eagles Live on vinyl the other day, I couldn’t resist. An old familiar friend just leapt out my speakers and put me on memory lane… which is a pretty cool place to be for a few hours. Now if I could only get that picture disc vinyl edition of The Smoker You Drink, my life would be complete. (Yep – still a music geek)

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Thank You Eagles

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