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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Eagles and the only truth about pop music

The first album by The Eagles in 1972 took a long time to finish because David Geffen, who managed them and was their record company boss, wanted another song by Jackson Browne with a lead vocal by Don Henley to follow up the first single "Take It Easy" and to bolster their album.

Browne supplied another song called "Nightingale" but the producer Glyn Johns didn't think it was as good as "Take It Easy". They recorded it a few times but it was never strong enough to walk on its own. Geffen insisted on Johns coming back to the United States from Britain to have another go at recording it. They tried again but it never worked.

Both songs are on the first album. Both songs are tuneful. Both are the same tempo. One lifts off and the other one doesn't. Geffen couldn't believe it was as simple as that but it is.

In the present melancholy season I keep getting rung up by radio producers and asked to explain why certain careers happened in the way they happened. Was this person a genius? Was this person a hack? The truth is underneath it all it's a business about hits and hits are all about catchiness.

These two records had the exact same inputs. One flies. The other doesn't. All the work in the world wouldn't change that. In the words of Carol Kaye, one "pops", the other doesn't. It's the only thing that matters.

It's not cool, it's not clever, it's not the kind of thinking they encourage on the arts shows; nevertheless, it's the only true thing you can say about pop music.