I've been in denial for over a year now. When he left us, Glenn Frey had been such a mainstay in my musical history it just didn't seem real. My teenage years were awash with Eagles tunes, and Glenn's voice was like their narrator. His death crushed the last grasp I had on a fading childhood.
Sitting here editing my book, I've been enjoying a DVD of the Eagles Farewell Tour. When Glenn sang the opening line of Lyin' Eyes, my eyes welled with tears. For a year, I've been too shocked to mourn him. Suddenly, it was like a floodgate of irrigation water was running down the desert wash that has become my aging face. It's always been hard for me, but once again, I had to let another piece of my younger self go.
You see, I grew up in a small Arizona town. The desert was my solace, surrounding me with comforting silence whenever the noise of teenage angst grew too loud. I could drive a few miles eastward and be extremely alone. I knew exactly where to hide when I wanted to be alone. Except for the calls of quail and hawk, the breeze and faraway wheels on dirt roadway, I found peace. Drinking a beer and lighting a smoke, I'd start to sing. Softly at first, growing in confidence as the alcohol loosened my vocal chords. Glenn's voice was what I strove to copy. Soaring on high notes and sultry smooth country twang arose into the darkness as I sang my blues to the sky.
"She gets up
and pours herself a strong one
and stares out at the stars
up in the sky
another night, it's gonna be a long one
she draws a shade and hangs her head to cry
she wonders how it ever got this crazy
she thinks about a boy she knew in school
did she get tired
or did she just get lazy
she's so far gone she feels just like a fool
my oh my you sure know how to arrange things
you set it up so well, so carefully
ain't it funny how you knew lies didn't change things
you're still the same old girl you used to be."
(Glenn Frey and Don Henley)
I was too young to know what he was singing about, but I loved the lyrics. My "problems" back then were simply excess hormones rushing around, confusing the brains of the child I still was. Life was good. With a sweet, pretty girlfriend who loved me and friends galore, any issues were self-imposed. Yet even though we're blessed with many gifts, we still find something we want... something far away and seemingly out of reach. While my singing voice wasn't going to take me there, I had chosen an art form to follow.
Glenn and his Eagles buddies played for many a mile of crusin' Main Street, helped me win the hearts of girls, and gave me years of musical joy. But the boy did become a man. Eventually. Now looking at the opening lines of a golden age, they're a fading echo of what once was. We all mourn our youth, because all of a sudden we awake to find it left us long ago. So eager to hold onto it, letting go was just never an option.
The Eagles are no more, but I've become Deke and my words are reaching around the globe. Not as prolifically as the boys on the wing, but I have big plans. The time to soar has come. Thanks Glenn, and I hope you're resting on the wings of an eagle gliding over the desert I once roamed.