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April Fool’s Day 2022

Desperado


In all honesty, I am not an Eagles fan. I didn’t listen to their songs early on, during my teen years in New Jersey, although it is quite possible that this musical group did not get the airplay there that they did in other regions of America.  During my five years in Washington, D.C. I heard very little of the Eagles on the radio.


Upon transplanting myself in the West, specifically in California, in 1979, I heard plenty of The Eagles. In fact, I couldn’t escape them and their Hotel California. Many were the times I wanted to check out - and fly away from those Southern California Sensations and Vibes.

L.A. was, and is, the center of the Hollywood crowd, and the Eagles were very much a glitz-and-glam part of that crowd. Talented, yes, but not, in my severe opinion, the essence of country, country & western, or western. When I think of California country music, my mind hears the Bakersfield sound of Buck Owens, not the frenetic syncopation of privileged white guys with long hair and electric guitars in a studio based in Los Angeles.


The Desperado album was released in 1973, and it garnered two hits, neither of which I care for. The title track didn’t track, but it became a signature song of a group of basically rock guitarists who sang the way rockstars sing.


My strong opinions are showing, I know.

A Dear Doctor once told me that I am mildly compulsive, a clinical opinion that I found not mildly amusing. Because if there is one thing that I, Debra, am not, it’s mild, about anything. In retrospect, I can see that this trained professional was trying to categorize me (nice try!) and place me (another nice try!) amidst the continuum of compulsive crazies who came across his physician doorstep.


The marketing craze for The Desperado, I guess, got kicked off in the USA with the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid flick that came out in 1969. As a teen, I saw it, along a best gal-pal, during the summer of 1972, in a theatre. I (we) saw it about 5 times (yes, she was a wonderful friend), purely for the dialogue, settings, and wardrobe. I’m not, and never have been, a fan of Redford or Newman, although I do think that Katharine Ross is a good actress.


The rowdy-cowboy image got going in country music in the mid-1980s with The Highwaymen: Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, none of whom could really sing either, although Willie and Kris penned some fine songs. (Not sure if “Crazy” was autobiographical for Willie.)

The word, desperado, in terms of the historic American West, refers to the bold, desperate outlaw of the frontier. Not quite Dodge City reckless and lawless, or Leadville cowboy-stupid, but unwilling, and unable, to bend, to yield to the demands of society. Sadly, quite sadly, the composers of this song expressed a yearning to which they did not aspire.


Baby Boomer conformists to the core, the Eagles resonated with the enormous blob of Their Generation. Ergo, the authentic heartfelt lyrics of this song sound out-of-round from the circle that formed the Eagles clique of the Beautiful People In-Crowd in California.


Sometimes a creative mind reaches out to where someone else is; that act is artistic, fundamentally artistic.

The wild popularity of a group such as the Eagles in the States during the 1970s and early 1980s had very much to do with the West Coast star-making machine, and the publicity levers of the moguls. Free-market forces of any kind of art in America, but predominantly musical art, have become chained to leftist politics, and so hyperbolically politicized that, presently, politicians believe they ARE rock stars. And rock stars think they’re politicians!


The agenda of a song called Desperado is not political in nature. The lyrics do not push a message to save anything on this earth other than the soul of a person. The driving force of this song is to convince a rover, a loner of wanderlust, a headstrong maverick who won’t be roped — to willingly yield her heart to the heart of another person. It’s a very a-typical song by those two Baby Boomer musician-songwriters.


Glenn Frey, pianist-turned-guitarist, was commercially slick and good-looks marketable, to point of reaching the celluloid screen, both big and small. Don Henley, a drummer, is about as cynical as they come in terms of musical output. His chameleon-like tactics and scorn-filled singing strategies rode the commercialized sound waves throughout the 1990s. I was impressed only by the toadie phoniness of yet another pop-star social do-gooder who’s doing good, very good in the big-bucks department.

The sizable catalogue of Eagles songs yields, for me, only one genuinely honest and ingenious song. The lyrics are timeless, but I’ve revised them for this time, for my time, which is a time that looks back. I often look back to create fiction, but not very often to explore truths about my distant past, and about the paths that I crossed with other desperados.  There’s a bit of sorrow, intermixed with wonderment, in observing aspects of one’s life as expressed by the words of someone else. That product is poetry.


I thank Glenn Frey and Don Henley for this cadenced and contemplative inspiration. I also wonder who put more into this outpouring of the heart. My guess is Mr. Frey, who was a decent, honest guy, battling through the idolatry muck of being center stage. Mr. Henley had always been a desperado of his own doing. Therein luxuriates the artifice and the selfish cunning of his lucrative musical hypocrisy.


The bedrock truth about a real desperado is that he does not choose that path in life; he’s led to it by forces beyond his control. The moment when he surrenders to those forces is the blessed occasion when he’s a desperado no more.

Desperado

[Original lyrics Glenn Frey and Don Henley]


Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?

You been out ridin' fences for sooo long now

Yes, you’re a hard one

with all of your reasons

But these things that are pleasing you

Will hurt you somehow.


Don’t draw the king of diamonds, girl.

He’ll beat you — cause he’s able.

The king of hearts is always your best bet.


I have to say some fine things

Have been laid upon your table

But you only want

the ones

that you can’t get.

Desperado,

no, you’re not getting much younger

Your pain and your hunger,

They’re driving you

home.


And freedom, yes freedom,

that’s just a word you keep talking

You’re a prisoner walking

Through this world all alone.


Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?

The sky won’t snow

And the sun won’t shine

It’s hard to tell

The night time from the day.

You’re losing all your highs and lows

It’s not funny

how the feeling goes away.


Desperado,

Please come to your senses

Come down from your fences


Open the gate —


It may be raining,

but there’s a rainbow above you.

You better let somebody love you

(Let somebody love you)


You better let somebody love you

Before it’s too . . . late.