Saturday, January 17, 2009


At the beginning of a semester, I attended a staff development session about the different generations in America--ranging from the Veterans (my parents' generation) to Baby Boomers (me) then the Gen X-ers (my baby sister and my daughter) and the Milliennials (my younger son and my current students--at least the ones of traditional college age.) The sociologists may question the dividing lines and cut-off dates, but the descriptors intrigued me. The implications for faculty made up of about 3/4 Baby Boomers teaching Millenials were challenging, to say the least.

This past week, my husband and I went to Charlotte, NC, with another couple to see the Eagles in concert (not the Philadelphia football team). I had last seen them live in 1975, standing in my chair on the second row in Nashville, TN, for most of the show. While I was looking forward to the show, I was overwhelmed by the performance.

I'll admit, Glen Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy Smith, members from the seventies, looked older--no surprise--and wore black suits, white shirts, and black ties, almost an early Beatles look. The one thing that hadn't changed was the quality of their voices. They put on an almost-three-hour show and sang both their old songs from their Grammy-nominated (as they continued to remind us) album Long Way to Eden to their classics--"Peaceful, Easy Feeling," "Life in the Fast Lane," "Hotel California." The tight harmony and the instrumental versatility of the band showed them to be more than fluff.

Going into the arena, I accurately predicted the encore songs: "Desperado" and "Take It Easy." While the audience was packed with all age groups, we Boomers were in the majority. We knew all the words and got all the jokes. For those three hours, we were transported to our college days--"Lying Eyes," "Take It to the Limit," and "Witchy Woman."

In fact, the Eagles spent some time in my hometown back when I was in high school. At the time, the Muscle Shoals Sound drew all the great recording artists--the Rolling Stones, Steppenwolf, Joe Cocker, and Kris Kristofferson, to name a few. My best friend Debbie somehow ran into the Eagles while they were in town and ended up driving them to buy socks. They gave her a set of drumsticks. Back then we were exposed to so many big musicians that we at least pretended not to be fazed by them.

I realized during the concert that we had such great lyricists writing "our music." I wonder how much the switch from albums to CDs has affected the literacy level of liner notes. Now that most people just download their music, I wonder if we'll lose that quirky little genre. If I were younger (i.e., my eyes were better), I might be able to peruse the CD liners notes more easily. Now I need a magnifying glass. I've noticed that many don't even print the lyrics of the songs, much less other clever text.

During the concert, I recalled the first year I taught high school when some of my students had the lyrics from an Eagle song --I think it was "Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?"--and were trying to trace the literary allusions. And it wasn't an English class assignment. I hope that urge hasn't disappeared. After all, our best songwriters are some of the poets of our day, letting us create our own music videos in our heads.

1 comment:

Glenda Council Beall said...

I enjoyed this post. Though I'm almost a generation earlier than the Boomers, I feel the same way about groups such as the EAGLES. Mainstream music of today is seldom lyrical like the poetic lyrics written by song writers of the past.