Long Road Out of Eden: The First Cut Was The Deepest

Eagles Out Of Eden

I just watched The History of The Eagles so they’ve been on my mind (and stereo) lately. The second half of their story wasn’t as fascinating as their prime days of sex, drugs and rock and roll but it did raise some interesting questions about aging rock stars and the relevance their more recent music has in comparison to their classic catalog. Case in in point 2007’s Long Road Out of Eden, an ambitious set for a group that hadn’t put out any new music since 1994 and that was only an EP’s worth of new tunes. The album also generated some heat for its distribution which was sold exclusively to Wal-Mart, which wasn’t going to help win anyone over who hated them in the 70’s. Overall, I like the album and like most late period records from successful artists Eden does not get as much playing time as their well-known records. The album shows an old rock band that can still deliver solid songs even when the world is mostly ignoring any output from veteran rock acts. But one aspect of the record has vexed me from the first time I listened to it and that irksome detail has challenged how I listen to music. I am an album oriented listener, I start at cut one and play all the way through to the last note even if certain tracks aren’t my favorite. I like to listen to what the artist’ may have intended and listen to the record as a whole piece. The first track on Eden is an exception, No More Walks in the Woods usually gets skipped and I can’t stop myself from doing it. The song is a poem by John Hollander set to music and it is a worthy opening track that fits in with Don Henley’s well known Walden Woods charity and fits in with the Eagles discography. But I skip it every time to get to How Long because I like the tone that song sets for the double album much better even though it is a rehashed J.D. Souther song the band used to play live back in the 70’s. This simple push of a button is causing me to rethink of my staunch stance in playing records as intended because it’s one of the few times I can think of, if any that I bypass a lead track. It’s like skipping the opening text from Star Wars, it’s just not right, but I do it anyway. The second disc of Eden features a 10 minute title track that is much more demanding on the listener yet I stay with it. This is a conundrum I’ve been wrestling with for many years and I still haven’t come up with a worthy answer. The rest of Eden is acceptable but the opening track is the forbidden fruit I am afraid to take a bite out of it. Song sequencing may become meaningless in a streaming society so someday this post will be as relevant as VHS versus Beta. But for now I will ponder why an artist makes decisions about content and order just a smuch as a ponder over every word at the beginning of SWIV: A New Hope. A long time ago in a galaxy far away…….

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