The Eagles’ first single, “How Long,” off their new album Long Road
Out Of Eden is a slice of country rock that sounds like some of their
’70s hits. There are reasons for both those things.
** SOME TELLING EAGLES ELEMENTS. Some intriguing elements about the first all-new studio album from America’s all-time best-selling group in 28 years, discussed Saturday.
Although Universal is distributing Long Road Out Of Eden outside the US, the two-CD album is being released Tuesday by the group’s own Eagles Recording Co. That’s a big continuation in the decline of the record label, the music industry’s traditional equivalent of a movie studio. And in a big continuation of the decline of the brick-and-mortar music store, it will only be available in the US on the group’s web site and in big box discount retailers Walmart and Sam’s Club.
The music store, for most of its life known as the record store, was, for those not familiar with it in its glory days in a slower-paced time a great place to linger in the aisles, checking out what was available, even asking record store employees about music.
But in more recent times, music store employees, usually low-paid, frequently knew little if anything about music. CDs were shipped to stores, stocked slowly or misplaced. Meanwhile, the rise of the online retailer, fast and efficient with encyclopedic, easily searched entries — I’m really talking about Amazon.com — beat the music stores on information, service, and price.
Of course, they also tend to keep people in their categories, or “aisles” as I think of it. Because I’m so busy, Amazon has come to replace the book store and the music store for me. But as a result, I don’t “wander the aisles” as much as I used to. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that.
Meanwhile, as the virtual superstore was rising, the discount superstore, epitomized by Walmart, had already arrived. They quickly supplanted the traditional music store chains like Tower and even Virgin for selling music in the real as distinguished from virtual world. They don’t have as much choice as the Tower Records used to, but they did match society’s faster pace. One-stop shopping for busy people.
Online music downloading, pioneered by Apple’s iTunes, also changed the model dramatically. The music business had grown huge with singles being supplanted by albums. But now it’s regressing, with people, especially younger people, increasingly buying individual songs rather than entire albums. Which many artists don’t like, since they want to make larger artistic statements and feel that the song — or today, increasingly, the track — that is not hit material is too important to be lost in the shuffle. Which a pretty valid point of view. Some of my favorite songs were never hits.
The Eagles, being somewhat traditional, want to sell albums and not individual songs, so they’re not on iTunes with the new album. Cutting their own deal wit6h Walmart, they’re getting big promotion from the corporation — Walmart spent $40 million promoting previously recorded material from Garth Brooks in a deal two years ago — and higher royalties than record labels pay.
Of course, Walmart is very controversial with many people for its labor practices and some environmental matters. Now the company is saying it will become carbon balanced. And that it will improve on the labor issues.
Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. What interests me is the logic behind the Eagles’ business moves, finding ways to navigate the fractured new media environment and segmented economy.
There’s another reason why the somewhat improbable Walmart is a pretty good fit with LA glitterati lib Eagles. (Not that they actually live in LA, of course.)
The first single off the album, played in the video above, is a slice of country-western rock, a song written by J.D. Souther in 1974. While the Eagles epitomized the “Southern California sound,” the group — which first came together as Linda Ronstadt’s back-up band — has always had a strong country music cross-over appeal.
In fact, the group reunited in 1994 after Nashville music executives put together an album of Eagles covers in 1993. It turned out that a lot of country stars were actually big fans of the Eagles.
A collection of country music stars played classic Eagles songs, not all of them the big hits, and the album, Common Threads, turned into a huge hit. Half the songs became hits on country music radio.
So if you’re wondering why that new Eagles single playing above sounds both very country-fied and oddly familiar, wonder no more. Notwithstanding the liberal politics of the group, which will appear at the Country Music Awards, and I’ll say more about the actual album, their sound is quite convivial to many Walmart shoppers.
** FROM THE IRONY FILE: THE RACE FOR THE POLES. First it was Russia, followed by Canada, Norway, Denmark, and the US, racing to stake claims to the Arctic. The melting polar ice cap, courtesy of climate change, is yielding not only the fabled Northwest Passage, but also future access to valuable fossil fuel and mineral resources.
Now Britain is rushing to stake an expansive future claim to the Antarctic. Again, for reasons of future access to fossil fuel resources. Argentina and Chile are also pursuing claims.
I’m sure I needn’t point out the irony.
** FRED AND THE MOONSHINERS. For all the wonders of fastpaced cyberjournalism, one thing it can’t do — unless one steps off the merry-go-round — is travel thousands of miles to unearth an old story with relevance to today. Joe Mathews of the LA Times, author of a creditable bio on Arnold Schwarzenegger, ventured to Tennessee to find the story of Fred Thompson’s background as a federal prosecutor. Which centered primarily on going after moonshiners.
Eight months after the future Law & Order star unsuccessfully prosecuted — and apparently did so half-heartedly, and correctly so — a local county sheriff for selling a confiscated still, then Senator Howard Baker plucked him from obscurity and made him the Republican counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee. And the rest, as they say, was history.
** ORANGE COUNTY FIRE RESOURCES THIN, TRAGICALLY DEPLOYED. In Orange County, where the fire chief charged last week that fire could have been defeated with immediate application of state aircraft to the fray, it turns out that he had dispatched firefighters to LA to fight the fires there. And that the local firefighting capability is much less than in other major California counties with, among other things, too few people assigned per crew. Aside from San Diego County. Like San Diego County, Orange County had a major reliance on volunteer firefighters, a questionable strategy at best. But suffered a major drop-off in their ranks.
The Eagles release their first studio album in many years on
Tuesday. Here the best-selling American rock group of all time
does an acoustic version of a little-known song called “Hotel California.”
** EAGLES ABOUT TO RELEASE LONG ROAD OUT OF EDEN. The most popular American rock group in history is about to release its first all-new studio album in 28 years. The Eagles, who epitomized the “Southern California sound” of the 1970s with soaring harmonies, smooth guitar work, and frequently incisive and biting lyrics, release Long Road Out of Eden on Tuesday. It’s a two-CD set, the first all-new studio album since The Long Run in September 1979.
That doesn’t mean the Eagles haven’t sold many millions of records since then. Of course, they are CDs now, and increasingly downloads. They put out a variety of albums since then — greatest hits compilations and live albums and solo albums — some of which had new material included. (Though mostly in Don Henley and Glenn Frey’s solo albums.)
And after breaking up in 1980 following a row at a fundraising concert in Santa Monica for then U.S. Senator Alan Cranston, they reunited in 1994 — with the aptly-titled Hell Freezes Over — and have toured on and off ever since, making many hundreds of millions of dollars in the process as one of the biggest live draws on the planet.
In a further sign of the decline of the record label, and of the music store, the group is releasing the album itself. Although there are different arrangements in non-US markets, Long Road Out Of Eden will be available in the US only online, through the group’s web site, and in two big retail outlets, Walmart and Sam’s Club. (Outside the US, the album is being distributed by Universal Music Group.)
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, is giving the Eagles album a huge push in their stores. This is the first time it’s had an exclusive on a cultural product from superstar performers.
I’ll have more to say about the Walmart connection, which is controversial, and the album itself, later. I’ve listened to most of it.
This is a huge factor in the run-up of the price of oil. The Iranians say the latest sanctions announced by the US won’t do much to hurt them. What is definitely helping Iran is the record price of oil.
Iranian oil costs more to produce than that of other oil leaders. At one point, the US policy was to drive the price of oil down as the way to hurt the Iranian economy and foment popular rebellion. But the US couldn’t get OPEC or the Russians to play along.
Now oil is skyrocketing, and Iran’s economy is in better shape.
Of course, we’ve heard all this bellicose rhetoric before.
** TURKISH CRISIS. More saber rattling from Turkey, with its military commander today saying the Turkish army will “make the Kurdish rebels grieve.” He also seemed to back off his comment of yesterday, in which he said that Turkey will not invade northern Iraq before Prime Minister Erdogan meets with President Bush in Washington on November 5th.
** FIRE CRITICS OPPOSED NEW FIREFIGHTING RESOURCES. The Orange County Register reports that a couple of prominent conservative Republican politicians who criticized the early air response to the fires by the state and federal government actually opposed efforts to create stronger firefighting resources at the local level.
Hardly a surprise.
** PELOSI SLUMPS IN CALIFORNIA POLL. The latest installment of the Field Poll of California voters, conducted October 11-21, shows House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now on the wrong end of a plurality job rating. Her job approval is 35% approving, 40% disapproving. Senator Dianne Feinstein has a 51% job approval rating. Senator Barbara Boxer has a 44% job approval rating.
Pelosi’s popularity has dropped greatly among Democrats, upset about the lack of change in Washington. Only 48% of California Democrats now approve of Pelosi’s job performance. Independents are split, with each view in the mid-30s, while Republicans are clearly very opposed.
** SCHWARZENEGGER LIVE WEBCAST ON SOCAL FIRES AT 11:30 AM. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds a press conference with state and local law enforcement officials and prosecutors at the Orange County’s sheriff’s command post to discuss price gouging, scams, and arson. The event will be webcast live at 11:30 AM.
** SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FIRE UPDATES. Click here for the locations of and updates on the fires of Southern California.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia is fast re-emerging as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel.
You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is quite interesting nonetheless. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil prices closed at a record $91.86 per barrel Friday on concern over the geopolitical situation, namely situations in Iraq, Pakistan, and Iran. Energy markets are closed on the weekend.
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