Monday, February 13, 2023

This Year: 1976

"This Year" is a series of weekly posts, each about one song from one year of my life. See the introduction for more.

I'm not always being clear, here, about which are songs I loved at the time and which songs I loved later. I won't always be clear about that.

For now, we're still in early days: 1976 was when I turned seven years old, so my musical tastes were, shall we say, somewhat different than they would be later. But this is the first song on the list that I think I can say I loved early.

Probably not 1976. But maybe 1978, 1979. Not all that long after. Certainly before I discovered punk, which was around 1980.

And it is an Eagles song. I listened to a lot of the Eagles for a long time - I don't know if I'm done, exactly, but I don't go to them very often this century - and they are one of the quintessentially 1970s bands in my head. I don't know if this is their best song. I do know it's very far from their most famous song.

But it's the one that's electric in my mind, the one that I would keep if I had to jettison everything else The Eagles ever did.

My song for 1976 is The Last Resort, the last song on the Hotel California album.

The Last Resort, to me, is what people say Hotel California is: the big, expansive song that explains the appeal of California, of a whole lot of things that roll up into that place and name, that stakes out a massive territory and defends it successfully. It's another really long song. It's another song that tells a story. It's another sad song, about things broken and ending - all those things that are already clear, even this early, that I find most appealing in music.

It's about so many things: colonialism, sprawl, consumerism, missionary zeal both secular and religious. And, more than anything, that desire for something better, something perfect, that's always just over the horizon.

Most importantly, it's a long song that tells a story - a sad story, inevitably, because all stories are sad if you keep going long enough - and ends it perfectly: "Call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye."

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