After a successful stint backing up Linda Ronstadt, Glenn Frey and Don Henley decided to venture out and start their own country rock band, The Eagles. They were immediately successful, building on what The Byrds, Buffallo Springfield, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and others had started before: smooth country-based ballads with pleasant harmonies. The genre didn't have the grit and sweat (or authenticity) of outlaw country of Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings, nor the goofy polish of Nashville establishment acts like George Jones. These weren't cowboy campfire songs and the musicians weren't from The South, rather, the music was light and breezy like waves gently crashing on the desert. That style would go on to influence the sound of light 1970s AM rock (a sound expertly mocked in Documentary Now's Light & Breezy: The Story of the Blue Jean Committee, which took direct aim at The Eagles' inauthenticity).
|The Eagles, 1972 (Henley, Leadon, Frey, Meisner)|
Joe Walsh replaced Eagles' founding guitarist Bernie Leadon who had grown tired of the grind of studios and touring, and some say, was against Frey and Henley's move away from light country rock. Of all of The Eagles hit songs, my favorite Eagles song was always Bernie Leadon's "Train Leaves Here This Morning" from their debut album. For a long time I thought it was an obscure, forgotten nugget buried on an album with big hits, but when I went to arrange my version, I discovered the song has quite a bit of life among country bands. It's something of a standard. The song originally appeared on a Dillard & Clark album, one of Leadon's previous bands he played in. He brought the song with him to The Eagles and since then it's become something of a signature tune for him, eventually playing it when he rejoined The Eagles for some of their recent tours.
I got a little ambitious with the tune. I wanted to slow it down, and give it some space to breath. That left it really empty in places, my voice alone couldn't carry it, so I added some totally improvised harmonies which I discovered is a huge part of the song. Since I've moved recently, the new room I've been recording in is pretty open and echoey at the moment, so the bass is a little muddy (probably a good time to record some Phil Spectre material) but it seems to have covered some of my harmony deficiencies.