Listening to Eagles guitarist and singer Joe Walsh bubble on about his day-to-day existence, theres no better way to put it than in a cliche: Lifes been good to him so far.
Phoning from New York City (Can you hear the sirens in the background? Theyre probably headed toward my room! he says), Walsh is joking one moment, savoring his good fortune gratefully the next.
When the classic-rock icon performs at the grand opening of Garden Citys new Revolution Center, 4983 Glenwood St. (8 p.m. Wednesday, $49.50, Ticketfly), hell take the stage as a solo artist.
Its a far cry from sharing the spotlight with the Eagles.
Its two different approaches to making music, Walsh explains, and to be able to do both is a real blessing.
Walsh recently released his first solo album in 20 years, Analog Man. So its easy to forget that he had a successful career before and after he joined the Eagles in 1975.
Walshs solo show is a time-traveling, smile-inducing reminder of another era: his stint as a riff-slicing guitarist for the James Gang (Funk #49), as a chart-topping singer (Lifes Been Good, Rocky Mountain Way), and as a clowning rocker (I.L.B.Ts).
For Walsh, solo concerts are a chance to let down his still-long hair and enjoy fame as an Eagle, but also savor his freedom.
Im still an Eagle on stage, Walsh says. But heres the difference: The Eagles perform, and the way the band works is that we all have assignments. We have guitar parts to play. And we have singing parts. And theyre specific. And if the four of us show up and are there with our part for each other, it turns into something bigger than any of us individually. And that has magic. And thats the Eagles. And we do it very well.
Thats not bragging, as anyone who has witnessed the Eagles in concert can attest.
Thats just reality.
But when Walsh plays live with his own backing band, things feel ... looser.
I have a lot more freedom where I can improvise and experiment, he says, and I dont have to play it the same every night. And Im in a smaller group of venues, because the Eagles is up a notch in terms of attendance. So the interplay between the band and the audience is much better quality. And everybody has a good seat.
And, Walsh adds, it reminds me of the old days. So Im really enjoying playing solo stuff this summer with a real kick-ass band. But I love being in the Eagles, and when the four of us go out on stage on a good night, theres nothing like it.
Indirectly, the whole being more than the sum of its parts is part of the message of Analog Man, a song that laments the digital age:
Welcome to cyberspace, Im lost in the fog/Everythings digital, Im still analog/When something goes wrong, I dont have a clue/some 10-year-old smart ass has to show me what to do.
In the recording studio, modern technology has hampered music as an art form, Walsh says. The ability to edit singers and guitarists into robot-like perfection has created a soullessness of song. The quest for perfection makes it difficult to stop tweaking software and clicking the mouse even for an old analog band like the Eagles.
If wed have had digital technology when we were recording Hotel California, wed still be working on Hotel California, Walsh says with a laugh. Thats a nice way to put it.
Hotel California would not have turned out the way it did, either.
Theres magic in all the 30-year-old records that we all know and love, Walsh says, and that is guys playing together. And every time you fix something, you take away a little bit of mojo. And its really tempting because you can to fix everything.
Walshs concert next week will not be perfect. If hes having a rough night singing, by God, we will hear it.
Thats right! Walsh says. And thats what it is. And if I do make a mistake, there you go.
I very seldom do, he adds quickly, but if I do, Id better be proud of it.
The flaws of humanity are something Walsh, who has been sober since 1994, sounds comfortable accepting.
When I ask him about country singer Randy Travis much-publicized struggles with alcohol and recent arrest in Texas, Walsh speaks about alcoholism from the viewpoint of someone who understands.
We like to say, you know, Randys one of us. ... Walsh says. Randy has my prayers, and thanks for bringing that to my attention. I may reach out to him.
Its strange yet somehow comforting to hear famed wild man Joe Walsh talk like that.
Hes not as crazy as fans like to imagine he is at least not nowadays.
This is probably a good thing when youre 64 years old.
A lot of those stories are true, Walsh says. I used to be pretty crazy. I know how to do it. But I dont do it anymore.
TONIGHT ON THE OTHER STUDIO
Hear some of my interview with Joe Walsh, plus songs from Silversun Pickups, Reckless Kelly, Weird Al, The Muppets and more.
The Other Studio airs from 9 to 10 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.
COMING FRIDAY IN SCENE MAGAZINE
- A photo tour of the new Revolution Center.
- A travelers guide to eating at restaurants in other parts of Idaho.
- Artist Surel Mitchells legacy continues as her family converts her Garden City living and work space into an artists residency.
Michael Deeds column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. Email: mdeeds@ idahostatesman.com. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds