Desperado …

I think I’m going to start an “Old Album Friday”. 🙂 Young people are excused to go play “Guitar Hero” or some such thing whilst their elders reminisce.

My husband and I have been getting CDs out of the library to listen to in the car, now that we have a longer commute. I picked up CSNY’s “So Far”, a greatest hits compilation of Cream and “Desperado” by the Eagles. He also got a John Fogarty reworking of all of CCR’s big hits, except (inexplicably) “Heard it Through the Grapevine”. We’ve listened to all of them — my personal favorite being CSNY — but my husband is in the rather “Gaslight”-ish way of trying to drive me mad by not listening to anything but “Desperado”. If I hear “Bitter Creek” one more time I may just snap and there’s nothing to be done about it.

This is a concept album without really being one. The back album cover (reproduced on the inserts for the CD) is a recreation of the capture of the Dalton gang as referenced in “Doolin-Dalton”, (both the song and the instrumental reprise). The album itself riffs off the idea of equating rock stardom to being an old West outlaw — a not entirely unique but workable thesis. It’s still pretty heavily country rock in the mold of later Byrds or Flying Burrito Brothers. If you’re like me and you’re more familiar with the later Eagles rockers, this album may bust some perceptions sky-high.

The title track may be the single most commercially successful song on the album, but it was never issued as a single. The two songs that were — Outlaw Man and Tequila Sunrise — did chart, at #59 and #61 respectively. My favorite track is “Saturday Night”; it’s a Henley lead song, and in lesser hands might have been cloyingly sentimental, but is just lovely. I find it ironic that someone I perceive as being pretty cynical (and whose solo career has been marked by songs full of political and social commentary) could sing something so gentle and sweet and do it so well. It also has some lovely mandolin work by Bernie Leadon, who also plays a pretty mean banjo on the beginning of “Outlaw Man”.

“Desperado” marks the ascension of Frey and Henley as forces in the band to be reckoned with and begins to set the standards that marks the group’s later work.

On the Sansa, “Helplessly Hoping”, CSNY
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