Song of the Day #2,989: ‘The Last Resort’ – Eagles

eagles_hotel_californiaThe Eagles continued their album-per-year streak, releasing the ever-popular Hotel California in 1976. But earlier in the year, the band (or, more appropriately, their record label) put out a greatest hits collection comprised of ten songs from their first four albums.

That album went on to sell more copies than any other release in U.S. history, until finally being surpassed by Michael Jackson’s Thriller — not in the 80s but in 2009 after Jackson’s death. Not bad for ten soft country rock songs. Based on my generally positive response to those first four albums, it seems maybe I should jump on the bandwagon and grab the greatest hits myself.

As if that tremendous success wasn’t enough, Hotel California would also rank among the best-selling albums of all time, moving more than 16 million copies in the U.S. and 32 million worldwide. Has any band or artist ever had a better year than the Eagles in 1976?

Hotel California was the band’s first album without Bernie Leadon. Replacing him was Joe Walsh, who contributed to the shift away from country and toward rock.

This is the album that turned me against the Eagles before I knew them at all. The title track has always irritated me, as have ‘New Kid in Town’ and especially ‘Life in the Fast Lane.’ ‘Victim of Love’ is ok, I guess, but it doesn’t hold my interest through its 4-minute running time.

The best song on the album — and it’s a damn good one — is ‘The Last Resort.’ This epic ode to protecting the environment, not destroying paradise, is as genuine and heartfelt as the rest of the album is empty. Beautiful lyric and vocal by Don Henley, perhaps the best of his career.

[Verse 1]
She came from Providence
The one in Rhode Island
Where the old world shadows hang
Heavy in the air
She packed her hopes and dreams
Like a refugee
Just as her father came across the sea

[Verse 2]
She heard about a place people were smiling
They spoke about the red man’s way
And how they loved the land
And they came from everywhere
To the Great Divide
Seeking a place to stand
Or a place to hide

[Verse 3]
Down in the crowded bars
Out for a good time
Can’t wait to tell you all
What it’s like up there
And they called it paradise
I don’t know why
Somebody laid the mountains low
While the town got high

[Verse 4]
Then the chilly winds blew down
Across the desert
Through the canyons of the coast
To the Malibu
Where the pretty people play
Hungry for power
To light their neon way
And give them things to do

[Verse 5]
Some rich men came and raped the land
Nobody caught them
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and
Jesus people bought them
And they called it paradise
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun, sinking in the sea

[Verse 6]
You can leave it all behind
And sail to Lahaina
Just like the missionaries did, so many years ago
They even brought a neon sign said “Jesus is coming”
Brought the white man’s burden down
Brought the white man’s reign

[Verse 7]
Who will provide the grand design?
What is yours and what is mine?
Because there is no more new frontier
We have got to make it here
We satisfy our endless needs and
Justify our bloody deeds
In the name of destiny
And in the name of God

[Verse 8]
And you can see them there
On Sunday morning
Stand up and sing about
What it’s like up there
They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise
Kiss it goodbye

One thought on “Song of the Day #2,989: ‘The Last Resort’ – Eagles

  1. Dana says:

    While I don’t share your opinion about this album, including the title track, I was hoping you would feature today’s song as it one of my favorites. I’ll call it Exhibit B as to why I like Henley so much.

    And I will agree with you that “New Kid in Town” is rather insipid. Frey strikes out again.

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