Bowling With Joe Walsh

I noted not long ago that my relationship with the music of the Eagles is complicated.

(a complication compounded by never being able to remember if it’s The Eagles or simply Eagles)

Whatever the name, the Eagles were done just about the time I wandered in and started listening to music. The Long Run was released as I was entering sixth grade and the thumping Heartache Tonight was guaranteed to be heard blaring from the bowling alley juke box where those of us not old enough to drive spent hung out.

(actually, the bowling alley was a hub for even the high school kids on winter afternoons)

I Can’t Tell You Why is still etched into my memory from Q102’s top 102 songs of 1980. I’d taped much of the countdown from the radio and sandwiched between Christopher Cross’ Ride Like The Wind and Gary Numan’s Cars, both of which I loved, was the wistful Eagles’ hit.

Though that was the Eagles’ swan song – at least until hell froze over in the ’90s – their music remained inescapable on radio.

Scanning the radio dial, sifting through the heartland rock of Journey and Styx, the soulful pop of Hall & Oates, and the more modern sounds of Duran Duran and Missing Persons, it was a given that I would come across Hotel California.

The song was less than a decade old, but from the perspective of a fourteen-year old, it was ancient.

It didn’t help that the Eagles were one of the few rock acts that our town’s radio station – which leaned toward light pop and country – would play.

The Eagles were old and something that my parents could handle over morning coffee.

So, I mostly dismissed the Eagles and their music with a shrug, but I soon became openly hostile toward the group as radio pummeled me with the songs.

But time marched on and, as I finished high school, I was listening to the radio less. Absence made the heart grow less hostile and, over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the Eagles and dig songs like Take It Easy, Lyin’ Eyes, and Life In The Fast Lane when I hear them.

Not that I think I’d ever want to go bowling with the band.

(though I certainly wouldn’t express this thought to a cabbie in the wee hours)

I can imagine Don Henley being surly and arguing over foot fouls or he and Glenn Frey might be hitting on some underage girl working at the snack bar.

(I also imagine both spending an annoying amount of time fussing over their hair)

Of course, I have no doubt that bowling with Joe Walsh would be more fun than killing a drifter.

Here are four songs by former US presidential candidate Joe Walsh…

Joe Walsh – Life’s Been Good
from Sounds Of The Seventies: 1978 (1990)

Being a rock star sounds like a lot fun.

During the late ’80s, Glenn Frey did commercials for some fitness club. Upon seeing one, a roommate mumbled, “Joe Walsh is sitting on a couch somewhere, right now, with a bong and laughing his ass off after seeing that.”

Joe Walsh – All Night Long
from Urban Cowboy soundtrack (1980)

I didn’t see Urban Cowboy in the theater and I’ve seen less than a few minutes here and there on cable throught the years, but I do remember hearing the sweaty and raucous All Night Long a lot that summer.

It was likely my introduction to Joe Walsh. A few years later, a high school friend would be a devoted fan who probably did more to promote Walsh’s music during those years than his record label did.

Joe Walsh – Space Age Whiz Kids
from You Bought It – You Name It (1983)

The high school friend had a knack for knowing street dates and I recall his anticipation for the arrival of You Bought It – You Name It.

If I’d hadn’t been aware of the album from him, I would have known soon enough as the quirky Space Age Whiz Kids got played a lot on one of our rock stations.

I heard a lot of Joe Walsh on the radio during the early ’80s, both his ’70s stuff – which seems to be better regarded – and songs from then-current new releases.

Joe Walsh – The Radio Song
from Got Any Gum? (1987)

Got Any Gum? brought me and a college roommate more hours of delight than probably anyone in America. The title and the back cover photo of Walsh mopping a floor caused us to laugh like hyaenas.

(it was a staple when we worked a shift together at a record store)

The critics hated the album and perhaps it was best heard as a college kid working in a record store. Still, there is a goofy, bubble gum charm to The Radio Song.


2 Responses to Bowling With Joe Walsh

  1. Dave says:

    Great comment, “a high school friend would be a devoted fan who probably did more to promote Walsh’s music during those years than his record label did.”
    As I have gotten older, guys like Joe Walsh sound much better to me.

  2. Loved the James Gang so much better than the Eagles. It was the Eagles or disco on the radio for a while there if I remember right. Like you, however, when I hear the Eagles now, an infrequent occurance, their version of California cool works like cold beer on a summer afternoon at the racetrack.

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