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

Music Memories #1

Music Memories #1 – Bruce Springsteen Live 75-85

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As Christmas approached in the winter of ’86- ’87 I knew shit at home was going to be bad. When I left to go on Katimavik (a youth volunteer program that kept me away from home for 9 months) my parents were separated. When I arrived home they were together again, and my father had fallen into the same old habits that caused my mother and I to leave in the first place. In fact my father wasn’t really talking to me much. We had a rather large disagreement about responsibility in which I pointed out he was a hypocrite and he pointed out that he could “throw me out of the house threw the fucking key hole.” Needless to say, I had enough sense to realize things would be tense as my father got into his 24 Export Christmas present after dinner.

Of course, everything wasn’t all that bad. A friend had given me keys to his apartment so that I could hang out at his place and listen to tunes as he spent the day with his own family. I in return had taken some of the cash I had left from lifeguarding the previous summer and bought him the gift of music. It was a vinyl copy of Springsteen’s Live ’75 –’85.

It might seem tacky, but as a guy, and knowing enough that my friend would see it this as a cool gift opened or opened, I removed the shrink wrap  and made myself a cassette copy of the whole thing as I sat alone and just let the music hit me.

All these stories just started walloping me all at once. Two and a quarter hours Bruce explained the universe to me. I had come back from Katimavik with a renewed sense of confidence, but had done nothing since to foster that side of me. So as Mr. Springsteen sang, I began to imagine what I wanted to do with the next few months.

“Thunder Road”  has me thinking about how to get out of the house, and perhaps out of town.

“Growin’ Up” gets me wanting to face a couple of life’s failures and making up for it.

By  “Cadillac Ranch” it occurs to me that perhaps adding some fun into the mix would be good.

Each song took on new meaning and laid itself as some kind of plan, and soon this screwed up Christmas started feeling like an epiphany.

The first twenty years of my life shouldn’t be used as an excuse to fuck up the rest of my life. From this point on, my successes and failures had to be my own, and exist separately from where and how I was raised at home.

When the music finished, I took my cassettes out of the tape deck, left a Christmas card on top of the cover of the record and made my way home. Bruce was now singing through the headphones of my Walkman and continued to do so most of that winter. The plans he inspired saw me through the next few years as I moved out, upgraded my high school marks and went to University.

Thanks Bruce

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