Eagles vs. The Cars (submitted by Marlene “Piper” Weingart)
The Eagles Farewell Tour from Melbourne in 2005 is showing on my TV right now. I thought a look “under the hood” might be interesting in comparison to The Cars.
The Eagles were “one of the best-selling musical artists in history” according to Wikipedia, selling 100 million albums in the US alone.
It would be hard to find a person who didn’t or doesn’t like the Eagles, or who wasn’t aware of them back in the day. They achieved mega stardom as a band. They had multiple songwriters within the group as well as songs written by outsiders such as Jackson Browne and Jack Tempchin.
Their first album was released in 1972, followed by one each in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976. The Long Run, their last album, was released in September of 1979. They broke up in 1980.
The Cars released the same number of albums with a single songwriter, and they lasted one year longer as a group from the time of their first album release.
The Long Run was slated to be a double album, but in 1977 the Eagles struggled to come up with enough songs, so they shifted to a single album. They started recording in 1977, and the album took 18 months to record in five different studios.
According to Don Henley, the members of the band were “completely burned out” and “physically, emotionally, spiritually and creatively exhausted” from a long tour when they started recording the album; and they had few songs. (Wikipedia)
The Eagles were also now competing with disco, punk, and new wave. The line in the single “The Long Run” that says, “Who’s gonna make it/ We’ll find out in the long run” was a tell. The Cars debut album was still charting when their second album, Candy-O, was released in June 1979. Their style of music was gaining in popularity by the time The Long Run came out in September.
I can’t help wondering if the guys were influenced in any way by the Eagles in the mid 70s. They were super popular, and when Ocasek & Orr were evolving from a folksy duo, they had to have been quite aware of the Eagles. But by the time they became Cap’n Swing, they were heading into new territory. We know Ric had said when The Cars opened for Dicky Betts (ex-Allman Brothers’ guitarist), “…all the Dickey Betts audience totally hated us, which was great, because we don’t need them – the 60’s leftovers” (Frozen Fire). Perhaps they had thought of the Eagles as more of the same.
The Cars were on a completely different trajectory. They were trail blazers. Mixing old and new, they switched up from the standard formula of making rock & roll and created their own off-kilter style; and though they didn’t do it often, those boys could jam!
The Eagles came back in ’94 and toured well into the 2000s with no new material until 2005. They came out with a new album in 2007.
In 1993, Benjamin Orr wrote “Do You Know What It Feels Like”, a ballad that appears to deal with The Cars’ 1987 split from his perspective. It seems like it was a public cleansing effort, but not exactly an olive branch. Still, one can only imagine if there had been a reconciliation the band could have come back together with lots of new material. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Ric Ocasek’s tremendous songwriting talent is apparent in both the content and volume of his catalog. In relation only to his music career with best friend and constant bandmate, Ben Orr, Ric wrote:
59 Songs that were released on official Cars Albums
15 Songs for Cap’n Swing (pre-Cars band) that are not on albums
9 Songs for Milkwood that were released on an album
11 Songs that have been released as Car songs over the years as demos, mixed tapes, recorded at Northern Studios, or previously unreleased.
? Songs Ric had in his bag that was stolen from his hotel room while the band was in England in 1978.
The Eagles, with their multiple song writers both in and outside the band, didn’t accomplish what Ric had.
I understand why the Eagles have mass appeal. I really like them too, but The Cars were meant for those of us who appreciate nuance, sarcasm, and irony. We love their originality and the complex layers of their instrumental abilities as a cohesive unit of bad-ass-ness. Their music does not get tired the way lots of and 70s and 80s bands do. The Cars still sound fresh and exciting. Their staying power is a testament to their creativity, musicality, and immense talent.
— Marlene, 12.02.19
A Gif from MPB
I have been enjoying the 1978 France gig videos, as was Sweetpurplejune’s focus in the Viva La France! post from July 12. 2016. This GIF is my take on, perhaps, my favorite Cars song, containing the audio of my favorite riff from that song.
Do search out the audio portion that is embedded in this clip, by hovering your mouse cursor over the bottom (right) portion of the frame. It is so cool! I think it neatly highlights the band’s rapport and affection for one another, which is obvious in this clip with Ben and Elliot.
On a side note, I had mentioned to our friend, the proprietor of this wonderful site, that I wasn’t interested in any recognition for this piece and GIF. Conveniently forgetting, of course, that my name flashes big as a billboard at the end of the clip LOL!
Long Live The Cars!