Wednesday, October 17, 2007


DALLAS by Poco.

Even though I hate the f*cking Eagles, man, they're permanently embedded in my DNA from years of exposure to classic rock radio, so I have to confess that one time I was stuck in an airport bar in Hawaii and played four of the songs from The Eagles Greatest Hits three times before my plane arrived. The only other album I knew in that jukebox was Was (Not Was) and that was not going to happen.

The Timothy B. Schmidt factor has pretty much scared me off of Poco, but when I heard that Steely Dan wrote a song for the group I had to check it out. You can totally hear the Dan's influence in Dallas melodically and structurally, but it's understandable why Becker and Fagen didn't keep it for themselves. Their poisonous relationships are strictly bi-coastal. I've been in Dallas and it ain't that nasty.


Photo: Highway relic.



corbett said...

First, these pictures are really great.

Second, getting down on the Eagles really misses the point. More appropriately, you should be down on Don Henley--he turned what was a quite good soft-country rock and/or hard rock band (see "New Kid in Town", "Already Gone", "Those Shoes") into a whiny, self-important mess (see "Hotel California", "The Sad Cafe"). Also, where is your Yacht Rock spirit? Casting aspersions on Tim Schmidt? "I Can't Tell You Why" sure is a good slice of soft-rock!

Anyway, Schmidt brings me to my main point, which is Poco. This is a band with as many personnel changes as, say, the Byrds, and to make general statements about them is unfair. Poco's initial lineup represented the full flower of Buffalo Springfield's country-rock ideal, and their first record ("Pickin' up the Pieces") is a minor masterpiece. It really is the truest distillation of what the Canyon aristocracy were trying to achieve--e.g., country rock. Unlike many other so-called country rock pioneers (Gram, Dylan), it wasn't simply straightforward country music played by rockers or rock songs with lyrics about cowboys.

Instead, there was a real blend of the two influences, Richie Furay bringing folk and pop structures, Rusty Young playing accomplished pedal-steel and a sunny worldview that didn't get mired in dopey Americana, lyrics about trains or epics about gunfighters (as much as I love all those topics).

Unfortunately, the material quickly declined from the high on this record (which probably owes something to the Eagles and Richie's religious conversion). Regardless, Becker & Fagen writing a song for them is totally improbable (Poco are about the least cynical and sardonic group I can think of). The only thing connecting these two bands was their location (LA)...but somehow this tune and performance turn out great anyway.

Thanks for such an interesting find! I hadn't thought to listen to Poco's post-Furay material, but now I may "have" to do it!

Bill said...

I was speaking in a little bit of shorthand and now youve shown me up. I'm not sure I have the energy or the time to make a complete argument (four hours sleep and I still have to write my CMJ roundup), but I'm down with everything you say. Those four Eagles songs I mentioned, I love them, and I shouldn't imply/say that I don't. But the later Eagles (and yeah, esp. Don Henley) are pretty indefensible. I miss the days when I thought Life In The Fast Lane was tough, though. (This is like 1983 I'm talking about.)

Mentioning yacht rock is going to make me have to rewrite Friday's post on that very subject.

And how is it that this cover is so good? With songs like this and of course the tracks on the first Dan record, I'm surprised more people don't take on Becker & Fagen tunes. They travel surprisingly well.

Anyway, thanks for the comment, much more informative than the post.

corbett said...

I think we need to hear a week of Dan postings and comments about the brilliance of the lyrics. It's time...

Philip said...

Frick Corbett. That is great response. Well articulated. You should take up guest blogging for a week next time Bill is away. You be well smart.

Bill said...

Yacht rock.

Bill said...

Huh, it seems I had it a little wrong. According to the info on this youtube (which you should watch/listen to), Dallas was actually the Dan's first single, with Jim Hodder on vox!