Tribute to Glenn Frey the Songwriter

We're huge Eagles fans here at Gooseneck HQ, and especially fans of Glenn Frey. He played many roles in the Eagles -- singer, guitar player, ringleader. But probably the greatest role he played was songwriter. 

He wasn't the greatest singer in the band (that was Henley), or the most accomplished musician (Leadon, Felder, Walsh). But he was arguably the best songwriter. Or at least the best co-writer, since he routinely crafted tunes with Don Henley, J.D. Souther, Jackson Browne and Jack Tempchin.

Glenn's songs were catchy, melodic, musically interesting. But also great stories. He drew part of his sound from country music, but he also drew from country storytelling. He had an eye for the small details that bring a story to life. Can't you picture him standing on that corner in Winslow, Arizona when that girl drives by and looks him over?

He had a knack for song titles. Watch the sections of History of the Eagles documentary where Glenn tells stories about coming up with song titles -- often by accident -- then realizing they'd make great songs.

Take Lyin' Eyes for example. The Eagles spent many nights in the bar at Dan Tana's in Hollywood surrounded by beautiful women, many of whom were there with older, rich but unattractive men. One night Glenn saw a particularly stunning lady with an older man and said to Don, "Look, she can't even hide her lyin' eyes." They quickly realized they had a song-in-the-making and started grabbing napkins to scribble the rest of the verses.

Or the time when Glenn recounted a story about speeding down the PCH with his, ahem, drug dealer. They were going way too fast for Glenn's comfort, especially since he didn't want to get pulled over by the cops. Glenn told the guy to slow down, and the dealer replied, "Life in the fast lane, baby!"

Watch this old but great interview with Glenn and (of all people) Bob Costas, in which Glenn deconstructs some of their songs. He regales Costas with fun anecdotes, like how much he and Henley admired Steely Dan for "the bravery" of their lyrics.

As you can tell from this interview, Glenn Frey knew songwriting was as much about the craft as the muse. He learned that lesson early in his career when sharing a house with J.D. Souther and Jackson Browne in L.A.'s Echo Park neighborhood. While he and Souther were hanging out not doing much of anything, they heard Jackson Browne downstairs endlessly refining and perfecting his songs on piano, crafting and re-crafting every lyric line, each verse, every chorus. That's when he learned songwriting was not about waiting for moments of divine inspiration, but rather plain old elbow grease. And based on his amazing songbook, he put in plenty of hard work. RIP Glenn.

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Now it's your turn: What's your favorite Eagles song? Favorite Eagles album? What's your favorite Glenn Frey track?

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