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“It was a horrible relief.” Don Henley said on the Eagles breakup. A simple and short utterance that completely captures the emotional ride that is The History of the Eagles documentary. Director Allison Ellwood starts the trilogy with an intimate background of the collective, including interesting tidbits like the fact that Glenn Fry nearly played bass for Bob Seger. Further in, we learn about the bands hilarious peyote induced trip at Joshua Tree, the inspiration for “Life in the Fast Lane”, Joe Walsh’s room trashing antics, and the success of “Hotel California”.
The behind the scenes footage was captivating to watch, especially moments where the band talked about their future. One instance, on the ride back from the Capitol Centre concert, Don Henley with a beer in his hand ruminates, “The thing right now is to see how long we can stay up on top of the mountain… I think we can maintain this for a few more years”. What followed was an eerie silence in the limo, with the band’s adrenaline high disintegrating, seemingly due to Don’s reminder of fame’s ephemeral nature. Moments like this in the documentary are aplenty, where someone in the band (all of whom are remarkably self aware), reminds the others of the finiteness of success in music, in hopes to short-circuit any surprise and cushion the fall when their time at the top runs out.
On their reunion Don Felder notes “What happened when we got back together is we realized that the Eagles is this mothership that makes everybody’s life better,” he said. “I think we all understand what a unique position we’re in, individually and collectively, and it’s nice to be able to keep the Eagles going. We always say that as long as we’re able to go out onstage physically and perform at a high level, we’ll continue to perform”. The History of the Eagles shows how this success can be just as disconcerting as failure. Go out and the get the DVD!