By Chris Shapiro
February 2016

A musician, like any writer, painter or performer, is a contributor to the culture in which he or she lives but few musicians become the coalescent voice of their culture. Glenn Frey was one such musician. His musical essence subconsciously became interwoven into the culture of his time through the songs he wrote and sang as an Eagle.

Frey’s position in the Eagles is undoubtedly cornerstone. He and co-founder Don Henley shared lead vocal duties as well as songwriting credits. Frey also mastered the guitar, performing classic solos on songs such as, “I Can’t Tell You Why” and “Already Gone,” played keyboards and created the memorizing harmonies the Eagles were known for with his backup vocals.

Frey provided this world with his love and commitment to the best music he could create.   In doing so, he related to the commonality in us all. He became the romantic with, “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” the hopeless romantic in, “Lying Eyes,” the faded cowboy in search of a second chance in, “Tequila Sunrise” and the rebel in, “Outlaw Man.”

One listen to “Take it Easy” and you can’t help but feel the down to earth tone of Frey’s voice.   He feels like a longtime friend who happens to be speaking to you through your radio instead of in-person. He’s there encouraging and cheering us on with his victory song, “Already Gone.”

Frey resonates a degree of trustworthiness much like a dependable ol’ 55 Chevy. When faced with an emotion brought about from one of life’s grab-bags, there’s a song of Frey’s to provide the needed ambience.   Down the highway of life his is the familiar voice on the radio. His songs walk with us, struggle with us, love with us and ultimately endure with us.

A candle can only burn so long as it has wax to feed the flame. A song can’t pass from the top 40 charts and live through the generations unless it has a substance to sustain it. The Eagles knew this and Frey made sure they delivered it.

Frey and the Eagles didn’t achieve the status quo of the musical landscape of the 1970’s. They redefined it. They acquired top-ten singles spanning from their 1972 debut album to 1979’s The Long Run hitting Billboard’s Holy Grail number one position five times.

But it’s not the chart successes, tens of millions of records sold, or even the 6 Grammy Awards that made the Eagles America’s band.   It was the content of their songs and the content grew out of their exposure to and consumption of American culture.

The Eagles could be thought of as a mirror held up into the face of American culture allowing it to self-reflect. They saw what was working and what wasn’t and reflected it unabashed and untainted directly back to the source. In doing so, they provided a reference point for society.

The Eagles evaluated culture fairly and thoroughly from a shared perspective. They could be extremely pinpointed and refined on specific aspects within the culture such as in, “King of California” or they could tackle the landscape as a whole as evident in, “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane.”

Frey and Henley’s approach to songwriting set them apart from their competition. Even their love songs, such as the classic, “Best of My Love,” were serious and adult themed as they focused on the relationship between a man and a woman rather than lust filled lyrics focused on sex.

As songwriters, Frey and the Eagles were true and serious in their reflections and messages delivered in their songs.   The majority of pop songs both past and present are juvenile in their lyrics as they are meant to appeal to a wide audience. Yet, when you get down to it, Frey and the Eagles were adults and of an intellectual caliber that blew other musicians and bands of the time right off the charts.

From the Eagles, there wasn’t so much a feeling of trying to be role models or leaders as it was they were trying to be honest with themselves and their fans. You hear about that honesty in Frey’s golden classic, “New Kid in Town.”

Frey and Henley were the cornerstones of the band but they didn’t create the sound or the songs of the Eagles single handedly. After all, it was a band with very talented members, who are pillars within the music industry in their own right. The Eagles even collaborated with the talented songwriters J.D. Souther and Jack Tempchin.  The songs created says something of the men responsible for them.

An Eagle has sadly fallen. Yet, not all is lost.   The Phoenix first had to fall from the sky before it could rise from the ashes and return to flight. It’s now time for Frey’s music to inspire the next generation of singers and songwriters to take flight.

Quote  —  Posted: February 14, 2016 in Interviews, Print Articles
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Interview with Air Supply

Posted: March 31, 2015 in Interviews

When it comes to love songs that transcend the test of time, there’s no band that compares to Australian rock duo Air Supply.  Their music became a worldwide sensation during the late 70s and early 80s.  With hits such as, “All Out of Love,” “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” and “Even the Nights Are Better” the band became a powerhouse on the U.S. charts. They’ve amassed eight top-10 hit singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and their record sales exceed 20 million worldwide.

Air Supply is still on the international road touring anywhere “Air Heads” are gathered.  This interview was filmed during a two concert event at The Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, PA.

Special thanks to The Rivers Casino and Jill Russell for making the interview possible.  Also, thank you to Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock of Air Supply, two of the most down-to-earth people in Rock ‘N Roll.


By Chris Shapiro
February 2015

The time on my watch reads 6:25pm. I have five minutes to wait. Lying back on my hotel bed, I watch the Weather Channel broadcast predictions of a monstrous snow storm expected to arrive in New York City within 48 hours. A second storm, coming down from Alaska, is projected to hit the Ohio and Pennsylvania area around the same time. I have a short window of opportunity for safe driving conditions without being caught in either conflict. What’s my boss’s reply going to be Monday morning if I call him with the fact that I’m snowed in on Long Island?

6:30pm sharp. I turned the television down and make a call. It’s a few rings before he answers.

“Hey, Chris, where you at?” Eddie Money asks. Read the rest of this entry »


Shapiro

 

Chris Shapiro
September 2014

The first note of “Rock and Roll Band” electrifies that part of your brain that made you a Boston fan in the first place. Hearing it live is like hearing it for the first time even though you’ve pressed play so many times you can hear the guitars in your sleep.

Hearing Boston’s music live and feeling its power as it echoes out into the summer evening charges the atoms in your being. It’s as though Scotty has beamed you aboard the U. S. S. Enterprise only there’s been a reassignment and you’re onboard the Boston spaceship.

It’s a journey like no other. Read the rest of this entry »


ShapiroChris Shapiro
April 2014

Balcony view of Donnie Iris and The Cruisers at Jergel's.   Photo by Sharon Allen Clark.

Balcony view of Donnie Iris and The Cruisers at Jergel’s. Photo by Sharon Allen Clark.

People stand shoulder to shoulder. They hang over a second floor balcony. They crowd the center dance floor pressing the stage. These men and women stand in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties and even seventies.   They range from business suits with the tie loosen around the neck to blue jeans. Together they call themselves Donnie Iris fans.

Their focus is the core of energy emitted from five members on the stage. At the center is Donnie to his right on is Paul Goll on bass and Marty Lee Hoenes on lead guitar. To his left on keyboards is Marc Avsec and behind him with a pulsating beat on drums is Mark Tirabassi. Together these men are Donnie Iris and the Cruisers.

Most of the fans here tonight have never played on a stage nor can they play a musical instrument for matter. But it doesn’t hinder their love and appreciate for the music.

The band and the fans share something that can only be witnessed in the moment of a live concert. The music serves as the bond between them. No video gear, camera or sound recording can capture the essence of this moment. It’s like trying to capture life in a bottle. Even writing about it is nothing in comparison to feeling it.

Music is the human soul communicating in ways words can’t express. It inspires comforts and heals. Two souls can be connecting through music without a single word ever being spoken. The only requirement to understanding music is to be human. Read the rest of this entry »


ShapiroChris Shapiro
March 2014

From the first chords of “Heaven on Earth,” it is immediately recognizable that this song comes from a Boston album.

It’s not because of the amazing vocal harmonies, the freight train powered guitar riffs, lyrically moving songs or the atmospheric soaring guitar solos.  Sure, those are the components of the songs on the album but that’s not what makes Life, Love & Hope a Boston album.

You see, what makes a Boston album a Boston album is very much what makes a Mercedes-Benz a Mercedes Benz.

When a person purchases a Mercedes-Benz E Class, S Class or any model for that matter, they’re not just buying a steering wheel, seats, the metal frame or the engine but they are buying the entire package.  A package sealed with the star emblem on the hood that lets it be known to the world the vehicle meets the standard of Mercedes. 

With the star on the hood, that seal, a client is not just buying a car, they’re buying innovation dating back to 1886.  They’re buying into the leading auto manufacturer of performance and safety.  They are getting over 80,000 patented inventions with their purchase.  They’re buying a level of quality in a class of its own. 

So is the same when you purchase a Boston album.  You’re not buying a corporate rock album conceived and packaged by men in business suits who care more about the bottom line than the track listing. (I should note that I don’t know if Tom Scholz wears suits while recording his albums but you get my drift). Read the rest of this entry »


Chris Shapiro
December 2013

glenn symmonds II

Glenn Symmonds. Drummer, songwriter, father and cancer survivor.

There’s something special about a concert.  The live energy the music creates as it connects with the crowd as well as the synergy of the members of the band who create it causes a spiritual, almost magical effect, one where the human soul can be expressed.

The men and women who perform on a stage and create this effect are heroes.  They put a song in the heart of the weary by sharing their love of music.  Not only can their song serve as inspiration to the lives of others but also the way they face life and overcome  life’s twists and turns.

Such is the case with Glenn Symmonds, Eddie Money’s drummer of over twenty years, a recent cancer survivor and whose battle serves as an inspiration for any facing similar circumstance. Read the rest of this entry »