May 10, 2007
Klosterman, New York magazine, and the Eagles
Blah blah backlash, I still like Chuck Klosterman. Not everybody appreciates his obsessive approach to the minutiae of popular culture and tendency to make just about every story he writes a self-referential exercise or public disclosure of his family history/love life/drug habits.
But when he was writing for Spin, before the big shake-up that seems to have resulted in everything in there you'd want to read getting axed, I enjoyed his columns. In these columns, he often made wild and unsubstantiated claims about music and sometimes relied a little too heavily on the same '80's metal bands for earnest comic value, but they were almost always genuinely funny, even if his one-liners hold up better than his thesis statements. Sometimes the essays captured some idea about music that was new, at least to me (such as the "Ten Most Accurately Rated Artists in Music History" piece.)
So then New York magazine comes along with a self-consciously quirky little Apropos of Nothing column called "32 Reasons Why the Eagles Are the Best Band in the Universe", which is an attempt at ripping off Klosterman that is just not subtle at all. It's also not very successful. Here are some of their reasons:
5. The poster included with 1974’s On the Border, in which Don Henley is wearing the manliest peasant blouse in rock history.
7. The career arc of Glenn Frey, from “Chug All Night” — a song from the first Eagles album, about wanting to be “high on a pleasure wheel” — to “Smuggler’s Blues,” a nuanced critique of U.S. drug policy (seriously!) that inspired a really good Miami Vice episode.
28. The use of the “talk box” guitar sound — think Peter Frampton — on “Those Shoes.” Walsh’s solo sounds like a duck trying to speak with its mouth full of rubber cement and chewable Quaaludes.
The underlying "greatest rock band" hyperbole of this list is a rip-off in itself, and these kinds of statements about the Eagles are, I guess, trying to be cute and "random" ("rubber cement and chewable Quaaludes"??) but come off as insincere and unfunny. So the style of this piece really bugs me, as does, of course, the notion that the Eagles are the world's greatest rock band.
The fact that they actually include as a reason the Eagles reference that's in The Big Lebowski ("15. The scene in The Big Lebowski where the Dude (Jeff Bridges) gets thrown out of a taxicab for dissing the Eagles") demonstrates that these people have no idea what they're talking about. The Dude getting thrown out of cab after he says "I hate the fuckin' Eagles, man" isn't supposed to act as a rebuke to the Eagles-hating public, it's meant to suggest that the Eagles in general, and the song playing in the cab ("Peaceful Easy Feeling") in particular, are not synonymous with "the best band in the universe". As Robert Christgau famously wrote, "Another thing that interests me about the Eagles is that I hate them."
Watch the Eagles-dissing clip from The Big Lebowski.
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