June 3, 2014
I am a rock and roll fanatic, through and through, and had only one question on my mind as I kicked off my summer with some live music this past weekend: Will he play it?
I take my music so seriously it’s as if my life has its own soundtrack, cataloged any number of ways. I reference this collection, quite extensive even if I do say so myself, by genre, emotion, instrument … just about any way you can imagine. Music is serious business to me.
Somewhere, mixed in among classical, jazz, big band, classic rock, alternative rock, and even a sprinkling of opera (yes, country is noticeably missing but for my own safety we’ll tuck that little gem away for another day), is a song originally recorded by The Eagles. If you know the history of what many have termed a Super Group of the 1970s, you probably know the story.
I won’t belabor the point, but the group recorded Take It to the Limit with Don Felder’s crystal clear pipes hitting the upper range of the scale, bringing what are certainly stirring lyrics and composition and arrangement to life.
After years of performing the song on tour after tour, Felder grew tired of repeatedly going on stage and singing the same song night after night, despite the fact it was his voice and emotion pouring out of each note on the band’s original track, propelling it into rock history as one of the greatest performances of all time.
There’s no judgment in feeling the man lost appreciation and perspective not only as to the significance of his accomplishment but the very reasonable expectation of Eagles fans to hear what many believe is their greatest in-studio performance, ever.
Had Felder been a solo performer and chosen to retire or make the same decision, the fallout would have been his alone to bear. Instead, the animosity generated over this single song was one of the major reasons the group’s original lineup broke up, leading ultimately to a much too long hiatus.
I kicked off my summer with a concert with Felder as the opening act, and the moment the tickets were confirmed for the show I began asking myself that question: Will he play it? As a solo performer Felder had had a few nominal hits, but nothing to compare with his success with The Eagles.
Headed in, based on the limited depth of his solo work, I knew it was a forgone conclusion Felder’s set would be made up almost entirely of Eagles tunes.
I was right as Felder played out a halfhearted show with Eagles hit followed by Eagles hit, his solo work sprinkled in to break up the cover repetition. I’m not gloating in the least, this wasn’t rocket science we’re talking about here. As far as Take It to the Limit, though, I was torn — with half of me wanting him to skip it.
Why? Truthfully, I couldn’t tell you, maybe because I wanted to write about it. In the end, I don’t think I was going to be surprised one way or the other.
I wasn’t … and he didn’t.
When it was all said and done, I didn’t know how to feel about it, and still don’t. Maybe that’s because in the scheme of things this ranks up there just between worrying if I’ll have to experience menopause and cutting a new set of teeth. It’s just not that big of a deal to fret over.
But, as I said, I’m somewhat of a rock purist making it a burning question at that moment, and it was the summer kickoff where I was concerned.
So, Felder didn’t play it after all which can only mean one of two things: either Don Felder is standing on principle or he’s just stubborn as hell.
Either way, I can respect that.