Throughout much of their long career, The Eagles have been decidedly uncool. While the sad news of Glenn Frey’s death has left many of us (myself included) focusing on the positive aspects of the the band’s music, it seems worth noting that they were rarely remembered as hip. This was perhaps never more clear than the famous scene in The Big Lebowski, when The Dude tells his cab driver exactly how he feels about the country-rock legends:
It makes too much sense, doesn’t it? In a movie that started out as a cult hit, and became one of the most beloved comedies of all-time, of course there’s a bit making fun of The Eagles. For years, they were one of the easiest bands in the world to make fun of. Hatred for them never rose quite to the level of, say, Nickelback, but almost since their inception, they’ve been as much of a perpetual punchline as, say, Coldplay, Nickelback, or Maroon 5 are today.
But did they deserve that reputation? Even the biggest detractor of The Eagles’ work could acknowledge that they could write a catchy tune; “Already Gone,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Witchy Woman,” “Take It Easy,” and pretty much every song off Hotel California have their way of burrowing in your head. So, why did The Eagles get so much hatred? Perhaps it’s because liking them was a little too easy.
With the rare exception of The Beatles, the most popular band in the world is never going to be the coolest band to sing the praises of. In a world where people expect points for citing the most obscure, unheralded bands as their favorites, what’s the joy in saying you like the band everyone else likes? That’s why even among people who were fans of the country-rock style that The Eagles popularized were rarely willing to acknowledge the power of The Eagles. They would tell you that Gram Parsons, who referred to their music as a “plastic dry-f*ck,” was really where it’s at, and the songwriting duo of Frey and Henley was really just producing schlock for the masses.