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Long Road Out of Eden
Artist: The Eagles
Label: Eagles Recording Company 
ASIN: B000Y179KO 
Length: 2 discs

Underneath the lush tunes Stocki finds some prophetic bite in The Eagles first album in nearly thirty years...

It has been a long wait from 1979's Long Run to the recently released Long Road Out Of Eden and now it is here, it is indeed…long! And it hit the road running (I actually didn't mean to add those puns!) with over 700,000 sales in the USA and garnering their first-ever number 1 album in the UK holding off the more youthful and surely more over-exposed (another unintentional…) Britney Spears. Was it worth the wait? 

Without question it is a healthy work. Everything has the maturity of execution as you would expect from these musical heavyweights. With over twenty new tracks to choose from it was perhaps a strange decision to pick JD Souther's 35 year old "How Long" as the lead off single but it actually does make sense. "How Long" is The Eagles as they were and it brings that lazy early seventies country feel – very "Take It Easy." Every Eagles album is represented and a bit of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Mark Knopfler and Steely Dan besides. 
What we need to remember is that for twenty-five years these guys have put their efforts into solo albums and that this is the best of what would have been their next ones. In that quarter of a century the only one really worth hearing has been Don Henley and no less so here. Yes, the others write nice love songs but Henley's rasp is not only vocally edgy but lyrically earthed too. And so in the title track which is a  Hotel California pigeon hole Eagles' we have the shrewdest slice of cultural discernment and prophetic bite. 

Weaving down the American highway
Through the litter and the wreckage, and the cultural junk
Bloated with entitlement, loaded on propaganda
Now we're driving dazed and drunk.
The fact that the majority of those Eagles' fans who went to Wal-Mart to buy the album are the very ones that are "bloated" and "loaded" makes this a brave song that could bite the hands that feed. So too with "Frail Grasp Of The Big Picture." Here's a song that adds a bit of content to some of the emptier love songs around it. 
You're living in a hollow dream
You don't have the slightest notion
What long-term love is all about
All your romantic liaisons
Don't deal with eternal questions like
Who left the cap off the freaking toothpaste?
Whose turn to take the garbage out?
As well as love and romance there is comment on a recurring them on any contemporary rock music with a social conscience; the relationship between God and the good old USA. 
And we pray to our Lord
Who we know is American
He reigns from on high
He speaks to us through middlemen
And he shepherds his flock
We sing out and we praise His name
He supports us in war
He presides over football games
And the right will prevail
All our troubles shall be resolved
We have faith in the Lord
Unless there's money or sex involved.
On an album where you could drift along a desert highway or the Californian sun drenched coast and languish in its accessibility and in places comfortable lushness these songs throw a curve. 

Elsewhere, "Business As Usual" reveals that the bottom line of profit seduces us all against our better wishes to yield to temptation, "Walk In the Woods" reminds us that our beautiful world is disappearing around us and "Busy Being Fabulous" is a modern day "Lyin' Eyes" where image and public adoration is more important than relationship. They may have sold their soul to Wal-Mart but amongst The Eagles, by numbers, songs, there is much hard hitting. Either they are preaching to their market niche parishioners or acting like hypocrites. Some hard truths have got to number one no matter what the jury decides. 

Steve Stockman

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has written two books Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2 which he is currently updating and The Rock Cries Out; Discovering Eternal Truth in Unlikely Music. He dabbles in poetry and songwriting and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night @ www.bbc.co.uk/ni/religion/rhythmandsoul). He has his own web page--Rhythms of Redemption at http://stocki.ni.org . He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine. 
 

 
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