Eagles, “How Long”

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August 24, 2007

When they reunited for the Hell Freezes Over tour and record, they put out a few new songs, but none of them sounded like vintage Eagles.   This single does.   The harmonies, the country-flavored guitar work, and Don Henley singing like he never checked out of Hotel California.

Despite the classic trappings, the record sounds fully modern and contemporary.   I’m not shocked that country radio has jumped on this.  More than any of the rock crossovers come lately, the Eagles really do have a connection to this genre.   With the Dixie Chicks and Little Big Town embracing the Eagles sound on their recent projects, it’s great to hear the inspirations themselves getting their groove back.    Good stuff.

Grade: A-

Listen: How Long

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  1. Aeroyacine says:

    Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss, Finally they put an entire album with few new songs , sure it will the great event of the year!!!
    Superb artwork!!!

  2. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    The Eagles have been a prime pollutant on the country music scene – the fact that country radio has jumped on this track proves how totally clueless is modern country
    radio. The line between the Eagles and Rascal Flatts is fairly linear – the line between Merle Haggard and Rascal Flatts can hardly be traced at all

    The music of the Eagles is not bad stuff – but it is not country music – it is country-influenced music

  3. JonathanNo Gravatar says:

    The line between the Eagles and Rascal Flatts is fairly linear – the line between Merle Haggard and Rascal Flatts can hardly be traced at all.

    Yep. I think I made a similar comment on a post a couple of months back, but this is a point that really can’t be made often enough. And I’m not even a traditionalist by any means.

    I’ll make an exception for “Lyin’ Eyes,” which I think qualifies without question as a country song (a great one, at that) based on its lyrics and its arrangement, but the Eagles aren’t actually a country band and never have been. But, back before I stopped listening to the radio, both of the local “country” stations had taken to playing acts like The Eagles, Bob Seger, Bonnie Raitt (90s-era Bonnie, not her older stuff), John Cougar Mellencamp, and James Taylor. And it’s not like they played any obvious stuff from Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, or Loretta Lynn on balance– they were passing off “Jack & Diane” as “classic” country. Revisionist history written by and for people who don’t know any better and don’t care to.

    As for this song? The main guitar riff sounds like a polished rip-off from CCR and the lyrics don’t go anywhere on first listen, but Little Big Town’s much balleyhooed harmony arrangements don’t have anything on this and country radio usually doesn’t go for anything with this strong of a melodic hook. So why not play it on country radio, then? Programmers can (and often) do a whole lot worse.

  4. KevinNo Gravatar says:

    Can’t just nail modern country radio here, since the Eagles were played on country radio in the seventies and nominated by the CMA. Perhaps they’ll add the next records by Olivia Newton-John and Linda Ronstadt, too.

  5. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    During the 70s and 80s there was more regional variance in what got played than is currently the case. Most Country stations also kept their own charts rather than relying on Billboard or Cashbox (or later Radio & Records)

    The Eagles did not get much Country airplay here in the Sunshine State. About half the stations gave “Lyin’ Eyes” some airplay but I can’t recall any other Eagles tune getting any airplay. Even “Deperado” did’t get airplay, although Johnny Rodriguez’ excellent cover did get played.

    For Poco, only “Amie” got any airplay.

    “Silver Threads and Golden Needles”, “When Will I Be Loved” and “I Can’t Help It” got a lot of airplay for Ronstadt, “Crazy” got a little airplay but its chief effect was to spur more airplay for Patsy Cline’s superior version.

    Olivia Newton-John had three of four songs that got airplay here but after the movie Grease she largley disappeared from Country airwaves here.

    Probably the only such band or act to get airplay was “Pure Prairie League”. None of their songs became big Country hits but a whole bunch of them got sone airplay

    None of the othgr acts such as James Taylor, Allman Brothers, Bonnie Raitt or John Mellancamp got any airplay to speak of – although AC stations and “Lite Rock” stations played them relentlessly

    During that period I traveled throughout the southeast and the playlist trends largely mirrored Florida . Of course you would expect this since listeners in the southeat could tell real Country music from faux country (kind of like folks in Texas wouldn’t buy their salsa from New York City)

  6. Eagle Fan says:

    Who cares where it’s played. The Eagles are back with an awesome song. Eagle fans embrace it. This song is 100 times better than the crap out there today.

  7. johnny johnNo Gravatar says:

    I agree. There aren’t any groups out there today quite like the Eagles. They are awesome. When I first heard ‘How Long’ on the radio, I knew it wasn’t anyone that I was listening to these days.

    Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!! The Eagles are back in full force!!

  8. GregNo Gravatar says:

    “How Long” sounds like vintage Eagles because it is. They performed it in 1973 (admittedly not as well as they are performing it now) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W79ymycplrs

  9. Shogi says:

    The only good song on this album is How Long….sorry I tried to tolerate the rest…but can’t. I love the vintage Eagles…yes I am old enough to have listened to them in high school. I listen to how long over and over and can’t grow tired of it… I am a country music lover also…have to admit calling the Eagles country is quite a stretch..but better there than in the crap they call top 40.

  10. Ziff says:

    A great cover of an old JD Souther tune! As someone already pointed out, this used to be a part of the original Eagles’ set. They stopped playing it, and it never appeared on any of their albums until now. I miss the old sound, and I’m sure glad to hear it again. My favorite Eagles tunes were the ones which included Bernie Leadon, and this has that flavor.

  11. MichaelNo Gravatar says:

    I’d like to comment on this -

    ” Paul W Dennis Says:

    August 25, 2007 at 3:18 pm
    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    The Eagles have been a prime pollutant on the country music scene – the fact that country radio has jumped on this track proves how totally clueless is modern country
    radio….. etc etc”

    Paul,
    To begin, and maybe most importantly, I really feel it’s necessary tto state that the writing I’m about to share is coming straight from my heart and is in no way meant to offend you AT ALL. It’s also (the opinion portion, at least) 100% subjective. So this is not any sort of an attempt to “decide” or “insist” that someone is right and/or someone else is wrong. It’s just my opinion. On the other hand, I almost feel like I owe this to someone (or someTHING)… is it country music… it’s dignity, it’s history….. is it other younger people who might read your post and get what I consider to be the wrong idea…. or is it possibly YOU I think I owe this “commentary” to?? I’ve searched in & out – and I think more than anything I owe this to Glen, Bernie, and a few of the other people who were so instrumental when it comes to the contributions they nade to modern music DECADES ago.
    I’m in my mid 30′s, began playing piano at 3, guitar around 5 (best I could do with my smallish 5 year old hands – in fact, my Dad gave me a ukelele & similair style guitar to help me overcome that physical struggle), and began messing with drums by the time I was 7 or 8.
    More than a guitar player, I wanted to be a drummer. Partly “just
    because”, but also because playing guitars hurt my hands and ALL access (’til I was 14 or so) was strictly to acoustic instruments which made the pain complaint even more valid. Because stringed items were all over my home but I couldn’t talk my parents into a drum kit, guitar ended up being my weapon of choice. Little did I know that the strength I was building by only playing acoustics was going to make playing my first electric (and every one after that) quite a bit easier for me than for most people. On top of that, eve adulthood didn’t bring me hands or fingers that were quite as large as the average male my size, so call it fate, call it whatever ya want, the bottom line is that it worked out just as it ought to have for me. The childhood I speak of was spent absolutely obsessing over everything Eagles. By the time I owned thier entire catalog (on vinyl & LP lol), The Long Run was only a year or two old and the band had split. BTW – anyone out there know that you’ll find “hidden messages” enscribed on Eagles LPs (that means “records” for you younger folks who don’t know what an LP is — lol, j/k)… anyway, even though it always looked like it had been done by hand with some sort of “hobby style” pencil type blade, the LP’s had messages literally pressed into them right along with the grooves that contained the music on their albums. Find an old Eagles LP sometime & look in the dark black area after the last song on the LP and you’ll usually find one of these messages I’m referring to. I noitced them when I was really young, and haven’t seen one in a long, long time… but as I recall it was only on one side of the record and may not have been on every single LP that was pressed.
    “Never Let Your Beast Run Wild” wink wink…..
    A N Y W A Y – - – - -
    Today I own several guitars… all American made, all top notch quality.
    One of the more interesting of them is a custom Tele (I’m a “lefty) made by Saul Koll out of Portland Oregon (find him on the net – it’s easy to approach $10,000 should be build a custom guitar to your specs, and his gear feels like three times that much money when you first hold/play it several months after the inital order has been placed.
    This tele actually has a left handed B-Bender installed my Gene Parsons. For those who don’t know what a B-Bender is, you’re hearing on every time the pre-verse solos in “Take it Easy” hit your ears. You’re also hearing on in the new release of “How Long”. I could list 10 other examples, but I’m already taking this message a LOT further than I originally meant to, so I won’t lol. I spent nearly $2,000 just to add the B-Bender to an already priceless handmade custom lefty Telecaster type Koll guitar because of my obsession with the sounds a B-Bender allows you to make. Image your 6 string suddenly becoming posessed by the spirit a pedal steel guitar. That’s the only simple way to explain it without getting into technical stuff.
    So why have I written ALL this blabbering!!?!?!?!?!? SOMEBODY’s gotta be wondering right now, even if Paul D never even SEES this post!! lol
    Well, the answer is that I’m trying to qualify myself as someone who “knows his stuff”….. because one usually has to PLAY his/her instrument in front someone else before that player can get anywhere NEAR proving they’re talented in the slightest bit. So what I mean is that I’m not only trying to qualify myself as a damn good player, I’m also trying to proove that I’m one of the few – the proud – the “one in a million Eagles fans” who’s actually an amazing player/singer/songwriter as well.
    With a couple months warning and some heavy rehearsing, I could easily carry Stuart Smith long enough for him to take 2 or 3 song breaks during a live Eagles show should he for some reason need to rest more often than the rest of the band.
    As such a player, I understand a thing or two about their music. Stuff a lot more insteresting than the fact that they were originally very big fans of Poco – details more interesting like the fact that Don & Glen were so influenced and interested in Poco’s harmonies (& this is important, Paul) as WELL as Poco’s ultra unique way of playing country music with an unheard of until then gritty, down in the dirt “Rock” kind of edge that they not only stole Randy from Poco when they needed their first bass player, they even came back and took TIMOTHY (Randy’s REPLACEMENT when he left Poco) (Timothy) Isn’t that hilarious!?!?!
    The Eagles took what Poco was doing and polished it. Kind of like what might have happened if The Dead had ever taken a trip which caused them to all become absolute perfectionists once they reimerged on the other side of the experience.
    They weren’t just taking the Poco influence and allowing it to help shape their own music. They had voices that (when each sang in the range the group agreed was best for a particular portion of whichever song was being worked out) combined to create harmonies that most bands have to pay R. Mutt. L. millions to come up with – and what HE gives bands is usually only something that can be done with his genious and great engineering (in other words, can only happen in the studio).
    What the Eagles were slowly stumbling upon wasn’t the result of production, it wasn’t something a producer knew how to get out of them that even THEY didn’t understand – instead, it was the combination of genetics (meaning that they just HAPPENED to have voices which had certain individual characteristics – and those characteristics/qualities, combined with a “team effort perfectionist approach” (which I’ve no doubt required God only knows how many hours of painstaking private rehearsing) would later come to be known as simply “The Best “OOOOOOOH” in the music business.”
    No one else has ever approached or accomplished what they do. Even as time has seen personel changes, Henley & Frey’s voices are unique and special enough together that so long as they’ve chosen to combine their magic with only the “right types” of other voices it’s a sound they maintain to this day.
    I felt it was necessary to point all of these things out to you before making this final comment . . . .
    I completely disagree with your opinion(s) and actually feel that the “truth” (allbeit nothing more than subjective) is more likelly the exact opposite of what you said. “Modern” country as you refer to it is cookie cut in studios, and worst of all (and this REALLY pisses me off, BTW), today’s modern country singers contrive the drawl only while they sing.
    Very few of today’s singers have that incredibly strong southern accent in their every-day speech…. they just fake it when they sing.
    On the other hand,. the true country hero’s of yesteryear (Willie, Johny, Hank, just to name 3 of around 15 I’m thinking of off the top of my head) ACTUALLY DID speak that way in normal life, and it transcended it’s way into thier music because it was actually a part of who and what they were as people. It wasn’t a gimmik.
    Ever notive that you don’t hear that country drawl when the Eagles sing? Well, maybe just a little bit now and then from Glen, but he himself admits that Jackson Brown “turned that city boy into a country singer/lover/rocker” — Note: The EXACT quote differs slightly, buy I know my shit – trust me when I say that Frey credit’s JB for this and has said something almost identical MANY times.
    But my point is that THESE good ‘ol boys don’t allow any part of contrived to enter their music (unless it’s an actual lyric… then maybe it would make it through the firewall lol)…. and Henley’s not only FROM Texes, it’s where he returned as he’s become older and has enough cash to put his “Castle” anywhere he wants to. Henley’s got a very slight drawl which is easily noticed now and then, as does Frey, but they only allow it to be noticed in their music as easily as it might be heard during their day to day normal speech. Somebody I know told me that’s referred to as being genuine. I plan on looking into the concept as much as possible before I start recording MY next album.
    I really, REALLY, didn’t mean to offend you or anyone else with my post, Paul. I just wanted to remind people out there what it is to listen to someone’s music with an ear that’s testing & searching for something real, dignified, and without compromise.
    Music void of any attempt to satisfy demands coming from outside the “family” or “rock”, as it were… and clearly void of any willingness to sacrifice one ounce of dignity for a sound someone else “thinks”
    is the way things are SUPPOSED to be like. The Eagles started this way, and whether you like the new music or not, they continue to hold tightly to these principles.
    PS A portion of “How Long” can be found/seen/heard at L&M’s Fastlane – which is probably the largest “unofficial” Eagles fan website (at least the video clip I’m referring to USED to be there). You should check it out if it’s still in the vaults. What’s insteresting about it is that even thoiugh it’s of poor video & sound quality, it’s about 30 years old and being done be the original 4 members. I’d be willing to bed that… no, I take that back – I’m SURE that 90% of the posers of “modern” country rock in todays scene would admit that THEY were influenced by true country music like that of the Eagles. Have a listen to Poco – it touches on so many different styles of music that (at this point) subjective must be thrown out the door – the Eagles were influenced by a TON of material that was only classic country to certain degrees. I say this because Poco was to true country music what Frank Zappa was to Rock ‘n’ Roll.
    The most interesting thing about this whole arguement is that the sourcce of references to the Eagles being a country band in the first place only come from the industry and the new generation posers who can only wish they’d be 1/2 as CLASSIC country as the Eagles TOUCHED upon in a few of their songs. Frey may be a country boy at heart, but I bet he’d also tell you that “Heartache Tonight” is a perfect example of this. And I’d also bet you’ve never really thought of Heartache as a country song in the first place, have you?

    matthewswarts@yahoo.com

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