Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your Guilty Pleasure: So Put Me on A Highway (By Request)

This wistful ballad from One of These Nights is the epitome of The Eagles' Southern Californiafied country rock. I did not know that the band essentially formed out of Linda Ronstadt's backing band; Glenn Frye, Don Henley, and Randy Meisner were session musicians for one of her early 70s albums. Meisner takes the lead on "Take It To The Limit," one of the few times either Henley or Frye don't sing on an Eagles hit single. And this one was pretty huge at the end of 1975, and I'm sure continues to be a before-set-break slow burner for umpteen bearded cover bands from Southern Cali to South Carolina.

Here's some god, not another spreadsheet, 2:00 pm reading for you. Meisner quit the Eagles after the Hotel California tour (he checked out and he could leave. Sorry.), and became a session player from here to Dan Fogelberg, returning to relative obscurity. Except that for the better part of the 90s, he contended with a personal outlaw, a rogue impersonator who traveled between Nevada and California, trading on the name of the Eagle that everybody sorta-kinda knew, and bilking dozens of women out of money, dignity, and their pants. Here was a charismatic shyster who probably told some tales about "Take It To The Limit," spun yarns about upcoming record deals and tours, but who was well-known in Vegas casino pits and rode the Greyhound. According to this gambling world update from 2006, the impersonator, Peter Lewis Morgan, was caught, convicted and served barely a year before returning to Vegas and his Meisnerdom, as if nothing had happened.

It's a bizarre tale, but what it's got me thinking of primarily is how one can toil at one's art in obscurity, then not (dude toured for Hotel California. Come on.), then toil again while likely enjoying the largesse of that moment in the sun. And that there's a D-level throughout the entire entertainment socio-industrial complex, and how astonishingly easy it is trade on the amount of power associated with D-level fame, and how it feels for anonymous, everyday souls to interact with D-level fame, even in the grasping bronze age of reality TV.

Ugh. Let's put that lurid dialectic aside and get some solace in ol' Waylon's drawl and Willie's reedy simplicity. What I didn't know (for shame) is that everyone's favorite Outlaws covered "Take It To The Limit" and even named the album after that track.

Get in the truck get on the road. It'll be cooler with the wind in your hair.

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