Looking at the title of this week’s song you might think I’m getting forgetful and starting to repeat myself. (Ha-ha Starting? That ship has sailed, my friend)
Last week we had “Best of My Love” by The Emotions; this week we have “Best of My Love” by the Eagles. Different song, though, so this isn’t a comparison to the previous one.
The Eagles are a Southern California rock group. They rock; they croon; they satisfy a lot of different musical yearnings. They’ve written some of the best songs of all time. At least in my opinion they have. They are definitely one of my faves.
This “Best of My Love” is a slow, heartfelt, soul-deep reflection of a relationship on its last legs. The lyrics of the song are so spot on: you love someone; you try to make it work and be the best version of yourself, but sometimes actions don’t always equal intent. And then after it falls apart, you “monday morning quarterback” your way over the whole thing. You forgive your partner; you forgive yourself, and realize you both only had the best of intentions but it all got away from you.
Although written by Eagles collaborators Don Henley and Glenn Frey (along with J.D. Souther), the song was released by someone else prior to the group’s recording of it. The actual first version was done by John Lees of Barclay James Harvest. All I can say is “Holy mother of crap – MAKE IT STOP!!”
Within the first 2 or 3 notes I knew it was gonna be tough to sit through. I mean, first of all there’s twang. Extreme amounts of twang. And I totally get that the Eagles’ music might be seen as a good basis for adding twang. But if you do it well it won’t annoy me so much. This is not a subtle or artful use of twang.
Also, it reminds me of the worst kind of elevator muzak, dentist office waiting room, brainwashed stepford wives village mall music. It’s not even palatable enough to be an acceptable form of karaoke. It sounds totally corny and lame. Frankly, I consider it an abomination. To music. To the Eagles. To my eardrums.
Now to be fair I actually went and listened to (well, tried to listen to) a couple of their other works. They’re actually a little bit better than on this cover, but I’m still not thrilled with their stuff.
Singer Yvonne Elliman does a slightly peppier, more up-tempo version. Her voice is light and a touch breathy. She doesn’t really add anything interesting to the song. It’s very bland and not something I’d return to for another listen.
I like hearing this in Rod Stewart’s scratchy voice. It’s a good arrangement, and even though you clearly hear a strong undertone of the Eagles … twang (there, I said it. Okay?) it’s not overpowering. The tempo, arrangement and Rod’s vocals work well together. It’s an Eagles song but it’s definitely Rod Stewart doing it his own way, while still honoring the group’s original. (I’m still considering it the original even though it’s not).
Following in the words of Monty Python “And now, for something completely different …” , I have the reggae group Aswad. There’s absolutely no sign of twang anywhere in this piece. Even with the radically different sound Aswad still keeps to the original reflective feel of the Eagles’ intent. Surprisingly I actually like it, and think it was pretty well-done.
For the last cover I have an actual country version. It’s by the duo of Brooks and Dunn. It’s got the requisite slide guitar twang, but it not really obnoxious about it. I mean, they’re a country duo and the twang is an expected element, but I’m cool with it here. There’s a nice smooth drumbeat here that I appreciate. I could actually enjoy this one.