Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Glen Frey Dies; Aretha Franklin is Heaven on Earth

And now, Glen Frey (following David Bowie, René Agnélil and Alan Rickman) is gone. When my friend Chris was in palliative care at St. Paul’s, the nurses there talked about “the death season” being Dec. 26 – Jan. 30.

I came to the Eagles late — in fact very late. I was smitten with them the moment I saw them. I found it wonderful to hear the sweet melodies and harmonies of these men who appeared so masculine on stage as in, for example, their 1977 performance of Lyin’ Eyes.

Watch Mr. Frey in it. I find him ruggedly handsome. They all look like they are in a basement playing. All that is missing in this video is the beer.

There is almost no movement. All the hair is long. And throughout the song, Mr. Frey never looks up; he never smiles or regards his audience as he tells his story.

City girls just seem to find out early
How to open doors with just a smile
A rich old man
And she won't have to worry
She'll dress up all in lace and go in style

These virile men give me goose bumps when they stand in a line, so seemingly unaffected by the incredibly seductive song, to sing their sweet, sweet harmonies. Glen Frey sings lead; Don Henley sings principal harmony and the rest of the band provide the sweetest lullaby background harmonies.

She gets up and pours herself a strong one
And stares out at the stars up in the sky
Another night, it's gonna be a long one
She draws the shade and hangs her head to cry

You can't hide your lyin eyes
And your smile is a thin disguise
I thought by now you'd realize
There ain't no way to hide your lyin' eyes
There ain't no way to hide your lyin' eyes
Honey, you can't hide your lyin' eyes

It’s such a sad story. I’ve always assumed the singer, the narrator of the story, is the boy on the other side of town who is waiting. He’s the one she goes to see and why her eyes tell lies. This take makes Mr. Frey’s downcast eyes add poignancy to the story.

Right after the radio played Lyin’ Eyes, they played Think by Aretha Franklin and I thought to myself, Now there’s a death that is going to hurt. That woman is music.

Her catalogue is extraordinary. When she dies, Black America in particular will feel deep, incalculable grief. Southern churches will be full of her music. We will, sadly, say and write post-mortem all that should be said now while the woman is alive so that she hears it. It makes you realize that the hullabaloo over death is for the living., not the departed. I wish plans were underway for an Aretha Appreciation Day. Boy would that be a fun day.

Watch this!

Do yourself a favour and watch her performance of You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman in honour of Carol King at Ms King’s induction into the Kennedy Centre Hall of Fame. President Obama cries, and I cry every time I watch it; it is music performance perfection by one of music’s most passionate ambassadors. AND… it’s from 2015 when Ms Franklin is 72 years old.

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