For their new album the Eagles are thinking in terms of a departure, of some experimentation. One idea is to create one side which works as a whole piece. "Teenage Jail" and "You're Really High Aren't You?" would be a part of this suite. "We thought of some things that could challenge," explained Glenn, "Y'know, we give ourselves our own challenges too, like we talk about puttin' together a second side that's all run together, like the second side of Abbey Road was; something that just fits real well, a whole lot of stuff. So that's just somethin' we suggested for ourselves to do to make it harder for us." Glenn stares out of the window reflectively. "Y' know," he begins slowly, "it isn't hard enough."
I wonder whether the Eagles' songwriting process has changed or whether that, too, is not hard enough. Glenn Frey and Don Henley have always been such perfectionists, hammer and chisel writers, demanding the highest standards possible from the other group members' songs even if it means helping them or completely reworking the lyrics. Henley mulls this over, "Well," he says, "we're spending more time conceptualizing than actually writing, getting it down on paper. We'll sit around and think about something for a year and talk about it over and over again, round in circles all night, and finally when it gets down to the deadline time, we'll get enough guts or whatever to get it out of there. "I have a microphone in the car, y' know, and dictate things and keep a legal pad by the bed in case I wake up in the middle of the night. Any way you can get it! But Glenn and I have sessions when we sit down at the table and get bottles out and the legal pads and sit there. A lot of people say that's too structured . . . but I don't think so. I mean, a lot of times we have a lot of tracks that we cut the music first and don't have any words at allŚwe have a title or something. But the music dictates the words sometimes and it comes out better that way."
"Because the words always fit the music," Glenn interjects. "You write 'em that way." "And sometimes the words come first," Don continues, "and sometimes you'll get a little of it at the same time. There's no set way that it happens."
"Mirrors on the ceiling
The pink champagne on ice
And she said, 'We are all just prisoners
Of our own device
But their actual writing process has changed they both admit; it takes longer and it's harder. "We've said more things." Glenn allows, "When the word moon comes up, or dream . . . can't use that anymoreŚcan't say desert anymore. I've got a cassette player in the car and every time I get in the car I put the cassette on, stuff that we're writing, and listen to it over and over again." "I do a lot of thinking in the car, too," says Don. "Like I said, we feel like we have to do better each time." "We try to grow up a little bit between every album, get a new sense of values, y'know, because when we were young and starting out, it was easy to be an angry young man at everything. I mean, we were pissed off at the record business. We were out to get it. And then we got it. So we have to get a more mature set of values, I think. And deal with things that are more important. "Like Glenn says, we have to get a new yardstick. We're concerned with things now like . nuclear power plants, whales and dolphins, cancer and heart disease and stuff like that, which you don't think about too much when you're a teenager."
"Hotel California was a plateau of some sort," Don and Glenn both realize. "We have a feeling that one's gonna be hangin' around us for awhile, y' know," Glenn sighs, "it's gonna be hard. Hotel California will probably be harder to shake than Desperado, which we haven't shaken yet."
"Desperado, Oh you ain't gettin' no younger,
Your pain and your hunger,
They're drivin' you home.
And freedom, oh, freedom,
Well, that's just some people talkin'
Your prison is walkin' through this world
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