Local Rhythms – Eagles Do A Good Deed

eden.jpgThe Eagles’ long-awaited collection of 20 new songs is the best thing they’ve ever done.

But I’m not talking about the music.

My readers know that I blame them for transforming the live music experience into a Veblenian spectacle of excess, forcing fans to choose concerts like vacations – once or twice a year.

This time, they’re doing us a favor, by taking control of their music. They have enough clout (and money) to manage every phase of the project, and in the process they’re proving just how irrelevant the major labels are.

You won’t find “Long Road Out of Eden” in any record store – only at Wal-Mart and the eaglesband.com web site.

Good or bad, that’s the deal they made. You could certainly fault them for tying their lot to a company that’s, to put it delicately, somewhat out of sync when it comes to enlightened corporate behavior.

Don Henley defended the move by pointing out how great it would be to call Wal-Mart’s CEO on the Bat Phone, sounding a lot like he did back in 1994 when he claimed $125 concert tickets were OK because they came with free parking.

I’ll cut him some slack, though.

The example the Eagles are setting (along with Madonna and Radiohead, who recently made similar moves) will be followed by bands up and down the food chain.

The record labels may own the past, but if musicians are in charge of the future, we can look forward to a better world.

I should mention that “Long Road Out of Eden” is an awesome musical work. One song, “Waiting in the Weeds,” dabbles in metaphor, touching on the twilight of the label gods in the context of a gorgeous love song.

He describes “a small grey spider spinning in the dark, in spite of all the times the web is torn apart.”

Henley’s a guy who chooses his words carefully.

He’s an environmentalist who knows that the end of CDs means a healthier planet.

The web has been torn apart, by lawsuits and petty greed, but it’s not going away.

The new album may be available in Wal-Mart, but it’s a dollar cheaper as a download, either unencrypted MP3 or high-quality FLAC (which delights audiophiles).

Their deal with Wal-Mart expires in a year; after that, the band can do what they want – they own the music.

The world of music will be watching and learning. The dinosaurs will, deservedly, be dying.

Thursday: Richard Shindell, Middle Earth – One of the most intelligent and overlooked songwriters around, whether tackling topical issues like 9/11 or immigration, or just telling stories. Shindell is one of the best. To see him in an intimate venue like the Middle Earth should be a real treat. He also does a good job with others’ material – his latest CD, “South of Delia,” is a well-crafted tribute to his favorites.

Friday: Hair, Moore Theatre (HOP) – The first rock musical, with nudity, profanity and drug references – and the Dartmouth Theatre Department is mounting the production? Talk about a time warp. The music – songs like “Easy to Be Hard,” “Good Morning Starshine” and the title still sound vivacious, if a bit naïve, nearly 40 years later. The show runs through November 17.

Saturday: Susan Tedeschi, Lebanon Opera House – The reigning queen of the blues, in my book anyway. Tedeschi can play the chrome off a trailer hitch, and sings like a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin. This show will rattle the walls of the old opera house, so you should be prepared for an earth-shaking experience. Oh, she has three Grammy nominations and a song on the Bug soundtrack, plus Allman Brothers lineage by marriage. How cool is that?

Sunday: Acoustic Truffle, Salt Hill Pub – Once or twice a year there’s a cover charge for music at Salt Hill, usually for a cause. This time, door proceeds and 25 percent of sales after 5 PM will go to MS research. Acoustic Truffle brings a tasty brand of Americana from the Seacoast, where they’ve been a institution since 1986. “People get their groove on while supporting a good cause,” says owner Josh Tuohy, “which is a win-win.”

Monday: Marc Cohn, Iron Horse – Get in your car and drive to NoHo – if there are still tickets left. Seeing Cohn is like going to church. He is SO much more than “Walking in Memphis.” Seriously, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Wednesday: Solid Blues Tour, Merrill Auditorium (Portland, ME) – Admittedly, this is long trip, but this lineup of great blues musicians is worthy. The North Mississippi All-Stars top a bill that includes two legends of the genre – harp player Charlie Musselwhite and singer Mavis Staples (“I’ll Take You There”). The show hits Portsmouth and Keene later this month.

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