Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Peaceful, Easy Feeling

"Twenty-one, and strong as I can be.
I know what freedom means to me.
And I can't give a reason why,
I should ever want to die."

Twenty-One, The Eagles (1973)

Noting the passing of The Eagles great Glenn Frey.

By all accounts, Glenn Frey was clear about his opinions. One comment in the immediate aftermath of his death suggested that the 1980 break-up of The Eagles was an inescapable result of his direct nature. Fair enough.

The Burgundy Basin Inn, circa 1975. In the tiny hamlet of Bushnell's Basin (NY) there were only a handful of businesses then. A strip mall contained. among other going concern's, Bert's Pharmacy and a small grocery store. Across a one-lane bridge and down a country road was the little bar and party room we all just called "The Basin." The day I turned eighteen my dad took me there for my first public drink. We chatted, I supposed at the time, as men do - that is, about women. Later, it became a place to meet friends when we had returned home from college.

My friend John and I frequented the joint, solving the world's problems while bartender (and ex-cop) Vinnie dispensed adult beverages and peanuts. We also discussed, in the awkward and self-conscious manner of recently post-teens, what it would be like to be...well...a grown-up. Uncertainty dominated the conversations, even as we made bold promises that we would go forth and do all of the things our graduation speaker had urged upon us.

The jukebox was, by modern comparisons, a relic. Actual records actually played - 45's ingeniously removed from an internal rack and thrust onto a turntable turned on its side. We both had a "theme song," something that seemed to lend words expressing things we couldn't otherwise say.

Mine was Ol' '55, from The Eagles' 1974 On the Border album.

Mournfully sung by Glenn Frey, it's about a guy who'd spent the night with his lover. He was driving home in his '55 something, as the sun came up, wishing he could have stayed a little longer. Never having had that experience, the moment seemed to me both elusive, and evocative. The slow tempo, crying slide guitar and Frey's echo-of-love rendering offered just the right tone for a painfully shy, terribly uncertain small town boy trying to garner hope for his future.

Those nights at The Basin seem a long way from Colorado in January 2016, sitting in my 4X4 Tacoma and seeing on my smartphone that Glenn Frey was dead. His voice, his music... In a little song on a big album I'd grasped at a tomorrow I fervently hoped would eventually be mine. I headed home, to the love of my life.

"Pulled away slowly, feeling so holy. God knows I was feeling alive."

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