This week, I’m introducing another new segment, called “The Soundtrack of My Month.” Here, I will list the top five songs I listened to most frequently in the previous month. I will also include any interesting historical tidbits about them that I may already know, or can learn from Internet research. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a Spotify Playlist of my top five!
Beware: many of these tunes will be “oldies” (some semi-obscure) from the 1960s-1970s because, well, that’s how I roll.
#5: “Do You Feel It Too,” Poco
My continuing obsession with all things Randy Meisner caused me to seek out some of his pre-Eagles stuff, leading me to Poco. Poco, formed by Buffalo Springfield alumni Ritchie Furay and Jim Messina, is probably the most influential country-rock band you’ve never heard of.
Poco is probably best known for supplying the Eagles with kickass bass players. Both Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmit auditioned for Poco’s bass player/high-harmony vocalist position in 1968, and Randy ended up getting the job. However, Randy also ended up quitting Poco in early 1969, and TBS answered the call to replace him. TBS then remained with Poco until September 1977, when he got the call to-wait for it-replace Meisner yet again, this time after Randy quit the Eagles, having had enough of the constant touring, the time away from his family, and the Eagle Führers Don Henley and Glenn Frey, whom he was not getting along with. I’m sure it didn’t take TBS long to mull over accepting the offer to join pretty much the biggest band on Earth in 1977 when the Eagles asked him to come aboard. Talk about receiving a life-changing phone call, damn.
TBS remained with the Eagles until Glenn Frey’s death in 2016. At one point in Timothy B. “Jan” Schmit’s career, I’ll bet he often thought this regarding following Randy “Marsha” Meisner in country-rock bands. However nowadays, after nearly 40 years as an Eagle, my guess is that he’s probably over it, and now thinks more in this direction.
Anyway, back to Poco. Randy Meisner was the bassist and high-harmony singer on Poco’s 1968 debut album, Pickin Up the Pieces, but like I said before, he quit Poco in 1969. He also quit before their debut album was even released. Apparently, Randy had expected to attend the final mix playback sessions for PUTP, and when Furay said “nope, #sorrynotsorry Randy,” and that only Furay and Messina were to attend, Randy got pissed off. Understandably. My man Randy doesn’t seem to like dominant alpha male band duos telling him what to do (see Henley/Frey a decade later), and I don’t blame him one bit.
So how did Randy react to the unpleasant news?
“Eff all y’all. I quit.”
After his abrupt exit from Poco, Randy’s lead vocals were erased from PUTP. His photo was also removed from the album cover, and replaced with a dog (see above). I’m pretty sure that in 1969, the extent of available technology that could be used to remove an image from an album cover most likely consisted of scissors, glue, and a very steady hand, so they needed a new image to cover the old, and of course, a dog makes perfect sense in that case (??).
Even Randy Meisner, in retrospect, finds humor in the Tale of the Random Dog on the Poco Album Cover. He was quoted in a 1995 interview as saying, “[Poco] replaced me with a dog…[and] I love dogs so I like it” (KKTV Interview with Randy Meisner, 10 January 1995).
Another reason to love the guy.
Though Randy’s lead vocals were erased on PUTP, his bass and high-harmony backing vocals were not. Therefore, I decided to check the album out. My verdict? Not bad! I particularly enjoyed the tune “Do You Feel It Too,” which comes in at number 5 this month.
Take a listen below:
#4: “Boyfriend,” Tegan and Sara
One of these songs is not like the others……
One of these songs just doesn’t belong……
Taking a temporary break from my typical old school rock jamz, this catchy tune-o’-the-current-era comes in at number 4 this month.
Tegan and Sara Quin are identical twin sisters only 3 years my junior. Both are songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, a rarity amongst modern popstars. T & S are standouts in the current sea of musical mediocrity, possessing gorgeous, folksy voices that blend into beautiful harmonies, with Tegan taking the alto parts in their arrangements and Sara, the soprano. These ladies are super talented singer-songwriters, outspoken feminists, and LGBTQ activists. I have been a fan of the Quin sistas going on 10 years now, and they still float my musical boat with each album they drop.
I first heard T & S as a “Grey’s Anatomy” fan back in 2005. Their songs were frequently used as background music for the hospital intern drama in the early seasons, and a few of their tunes were featured on the earliest “GA” soundtracks. When I heard “I Won’t Be Left,” from their 2004 album So Jealous, immediately, I was hooked.
Even though the Quin gals have changed their sound drastically over the last few years going from a ‘folksy’ sound to straight-up ‘synthpop,’ I remain a fan, because bottom line, their songs still float my boat.
Tegan and Sara’s latest album Love You To Death peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200 chart this year, ‘Boyfriend,’ the first single. The song lyrics are pretty straightforward, and in Sara Quin’s case, autobiographical, according to Wikipedia.
You treat me like your boyfriend
And trust me like a… like a very best friend
You kiss me like your boyfriend
You call me up like you would your best friend
“” turn me on like you would your boyfriend
But I don’t want to be your secret anymore
You go on with your bad self, Sara. Tell that shady lady to GTF out the closet, or you’ll GTF out her life.
#3: “Doctor My Eyes,” Jackson Browne
Ah, the song that taught Glenn Frey of the Eagles how to write songs.
Say what now?
In History of the Eagles, Glenn Frey reminisced about his struggling musician days in LA, when he lived in a cheapo apartment complex with his buddy and then-bandmate John David Souther. Glenn and JD also lived directly above equally broke-ass singer-songwriter-piano man Jackson Browne who resided in an illegal one-room basement apartment he paid something like $30/month for. This was about 2 years before Frey became famous, and Souther….. didn’t, though JD did co-write a bunch of Eagles tunes (such as “Best of My Love”) which I’m pretty certain keep his golden years Wal-Mart greeter vest free.
In HOTE, Frey mentioned that both he and Souther liked to sleep in late back in those days. Unfortunately, Glenn and JD’s late-morning slumber would be frequently interrupted around 9 am by Mr. Jackson Browne’s loud ass whistling teapot. Apparently, there were three things that Jackson Browne could not live without in 1970: a piano to play on, a mattress to sleep atop, and a little teapot, short and stout, to drink from.
That mother effing teapot became the catalyst that turned Glenn Frey into an absolute songwriting monster. I’ll bet if Jackson wasn’t such a damn hipster and just drank friggin’ Sanka like every other red-blooded American in 1970, the Henley-Frey songwriting duo would never have formed at all. There would be no “Desperado.” No “One of These Nights.” No “Lyin’ Eyes.” Can you imagine?
Each morning, Jackson’s loud ass teapot would wake up Glenn (and probably JD). However instead of getting mad, Frey would spend the morning listening through his floor/JB’s ceiling to JB crafting the tune “Doctor My Eyes,” and learn how to write songs. JB’s songwriting process was painstaking. First, he would play/sing a first verse 20 times with piano, followed by 20 reps of the song’s chorus. After he had both verse and chorus exactly the way he wanted them, he would then join them together and rehearse what he had so far 20 more times.
Silence would then follow. Then the teapot would begin kvetching again, because the best part of writing a song is a teabag in your-No, wait, that’s Folgers coffee.
Anyway, after cuppa tea #2, Jackson would then start his process all over again with the second verse of “Doctor My Eyes.” In the end, Browne’s hard work, focus, and persistence (Frey called it “elbow grease” in HOTE) led him to fame, success, and enough money to purchase both a legal residence and a quieter tea kettle.
“Doctor My Eyes” ended up being a pretty damn good song, peaking at an impressive #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972. The song also (unintentionally) launched Glenn Frey’s songwriting career, paving the way for the emergence of the legendary Henley-Frey songwriting machine that dominated the charts in the 1970s.
Or maybe the teapot did all that. Not sure.
Surely now you must be wondering what happened to JB’s Magic Teapot: Boiler of Water, Launcher of Legends. I suppose only Jackson Browne knows the answer to that.
And he ain’t tellin.’
One other cool fact about “Doctor My Eyes,” which comes in at number 3 this month, is that it has an SAT word in the lyrics! As a teacher and budding linguaphile, advanced vocabulary in a song is something I always admire and appreciate. See Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl”, where he uses the word ‘moot’ in a lyric (rhyming it with ‘cute’), or Randy Meisner’s use of ‘conjure’ in verse 2 of “Daughter of the Sky” which I will feature on my September Top 5 countdown. The SAT word JB uses is the verb ‘unfurled,’ which he cleverly rhymes with ‘world.’ That’s some songwriting chops right there. Frey definitely honed his craft from a master.
Doctor your eyes, below:
#2: “Every Other Day,” Randy Meisner
Oh Randy, Randy, Randy, you are so criminally underrated. Some even refer to you as “The Forgotten Eagle,” though I can’t see how forgetting you is possible. Possessing the voice and face of an angel, Randy Meisner has reduced me to a swooning, grown-ass woman-child fangrrl ever since I discovered his gorgeous, insanely talented hunk of manliness a little over a year ago.
As stated earlier, Randy left the Eagles in September 1977. He ended up going home to Nebraska after he touring with the Eagles, and truly believed that he’d be content simply livin la vida tranquilo. Until he wasn’t. Randy’s restlessness brought him back to LA in early 1978, where he recorded his first of three solo records to date. The first album was recorded on his old Eagles record label, Asylum. Though it was probably awkward as F, Meisner signed a contract with Eagle ‘Little Man, Big Mouth’ manger Irving Azoff, and began work on his solo debut.
Embed from Getty Images
There were a few snafus in the process. One big one was the fact that Irving Azoff still managed the Eagles, and at the time Glenn Frey and Don Henley did not like Randy (I don’t think Don H and Randy ever made amends, though I think Meis and Glenn were on decent terms at the time of Frey’s passing). According to Randy’s interview here, Azoff was getting shade from Henley/Frey for continuing to manage Meisner, and, in turn, Lil’ Irvy (literally, as the man is about 5 foot nothing) was starting to panic. Not wanting to lose his Eagles cash cow, Irving didn’t put much (any) effort into grooming Randy as a solo artist (Eliot 163). However, he also couldn’t ignore Randy, either.
So what did Groovy Lil Irvy do?
Azoff basically threw a bunch of random tunes Randy’s way to record in under 4 months, released the record with near-zero fanfare, and washed his hands of one Randy Meisner. According to Randy, Azoff barely booked him any appearances or performances to help promote his album, which explains why Randy Meisner (1978) only peaked at a mortifying #204 on the Billboard chart, with no singles charting at all (Eliot 163).
Randy didn’t write a single song on his first solo album. The man wrote “Take It To The Limit” and “Try and Love Again,” yet he has zero writing credits on his debut solo album. Ridiculous. Even Randy himself called his first album “scattershot and not “conceptualized to its best” according to this website.
BUT the album does have some bright spots, and “Every Other Day,” is one of them, coming in at number 2 this month. Written by Billy Lamb, the song sounds a lot like an Eagles track.
Take a listen below:
#1: “Life’s Been Good,” Joe Walsh
Coming in at number 1 is a song that I have heard all of my life, yet I had no idea that Joe Walsh sang it. I also had no idea that when I was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past March and saw the handwritten lyrics of this song displayed (see picture), the song was the song it ended up being.
Yeah, that’s a word salad. I know. It’s tough to explain.
I knew that I had heard “LBG” before, but I couldn’t put my finger on the melody. Driving home after one of S10’s cheer competitions one weekend, I decided to play the tune via my Spotify app. From the first note, I was all, “Oh YEAH! I know this song!”
Joe Walsh’s first single from his solo album But Seriously, Folks did well on the Billboard chart, peaking at #12. Joe was an Eagle at the time this song was charting, but in 1978 the band was in a bit of turmoil. The Eagle drama probably gave Mr. Walsh the time he needed to pen some stuff just for him while his band dealt with several, um, issues.
The Songwriting Sureshots of the Eagles, Glenn Frey and Don Henley, were burnt the F out by 1978. They had been constantly touring for 6 years, dropping a new album every single god damn year from 1972-1976. The Eagles’ follow-up to the cash cow Hotel California was supposed to be a double album. However, when it became obvious that the band was struggling to create 10 new tracks, let alone 20, that plan was soon scrapped. Also, record company peeps were constantly attempting to light a fire under Henley and Frey’s coked-up asses. Churn out a friggin’ number 1 record already, yo!
Speaking of coked-up asses, another issue the late-70s Eagles dealt with was excessive cocaine use. Snowblindness had turned most of the Eagles into paranoid, moody, mentally unstable blowhards. The band’s love affair with “White Lines” was so out of control at that time that Glenn Frey needed surgery to replace the mucus lining of the inside of his nose.
For the second effing time that decade.
Joe Walsh, normally the laid-back, semi-destructive, clownish, good-time-havin’ Eagle was probably craving some sort of break from CrayCrayPalooza 1978: Eagles Edition. So, in between the bitch-and-moanfest disguised as The Long Run album sessions, he wrote some songs for himself, including “Life’s Been Good.”
At just under 8 minutes, its a freaking long-ass song. Something I noticed as I listened to the tune was that Joe’s lyrics were a tad reminiscent of, in all seriousness, modern hip-hop lyrics.
I’m #totesserious here. Joe boasts in this song that he “[has] a mansion,” that his fans “tell me I’m great,” and so on. This song is the original “Don’t Sweat Me, My Life is Better Than Yours, Sucka!” song. Which sounds like many hip-hop songs on the radio today, past and present, amiright?
Joe performed “Life’s Been Good” on tour with the Eagles up until Glenn Frey’s passing. And why not? Its an excellent tune, which is why it comes in at number 1 this month!
Weird Alert: At the end of the song, someone (Walsh, maybe?) says “uh-oh, here comes a flock of wah wahs.” This is followed by a bunch of grown ass men “wah-wahing” like a damn flock of ducks. The “flock of wah-wahs” thing is actually an inside joke, according to Wikipedia.
So of course, I found out WTF it meant on da internet!
Apparently a flock of wah-wahs refers to the overuse of wah-wah pedals by guitarists in the then-beginning-to-boom hair metal genre. So Joe is basically dissing using AutoTune for guitars. Makes sense, especially since he doesn’t need any of that to rock and rock well.
The best lyric in the song?
“I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do”
#firstworldproblems, before the trendy hashtag existed.
Here ya go:
Here is my top 5 in Spotify Playlist format. Until next time, music fans!