By CHRISTOHPER TREACY
Don Felder is excited.
He’s excited to get back to touring, excited to show off his band, and excited to deliver a set chock full of Eagles songs he knows we want to hear.
And those are the topics he was eager to discuss when we spoke with him on a recent call from his California digs. The celebrated former Eagles lead guitarist and co-writer, oft-recognized for his use of a double-neck Gibson EDS-1275, has released two solo albums in the past decade, the most recent being 2019’s star-studded American Rock and Roll. But his 2022 tour dates, including his stop at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, MA, on Tuesday, March 1, will revolve around his 27-year tenure with the Eagles. [Purchase tickets to the show HERE].
He’s excited for the crowd-pleasing.
“I always do at least two solo songs every night, for those people that want to hear them, and I mix those up from show to show,” he said. “But the majority of the people in my audience are probably over a certain age… some of them know some of my solo material and some don’t. I would rather err on the side of making people really happy and ensure that they’ll enjoy the show because they’re familiar with most of the songs.”
Felder, now 74, admits to being flattered by fans that have clamored for deeper cuts from the Heavy Metal soundtrack and his 1983 solo album Airborne, but he has recently surveyed ticket holders for their top ten setlist choices via a contest on his website. One would assume that his 2022 sets will be based on the results – Eagles, it is.
Despite this, he’s quick to acknowledge the satisfaction of writing and recording on his own. Truth is, when he joined the Eagles, during the recording of 1974’s On the Border, he’d already learned quite a bit about making records from earlier periods spent working in recording studios. But the band dynamic kept him relegated to a specific space. Nonetheless, Felder either sang or played on many of the group’s best-known songs, and his co-writing credits include “Hotel California” and “Victim of Love.”
“I would write between twelve and fifteen ideas—song beds, I call them—for each Eagles album, and I’d submit those, and they’d pick a couple. That’s really how that team worked, where I provided musical ideas and then we’d develop them. Some of my music that was discarded I got to use later on. I wrote this one song, the working title was “You’re Really High, Aren’t You?” We cut it as a great hard rocking track for The Long Run. But we were just at a point where we already running late. We had to get out of the studio and go on the road, so it never got finished. Eventually, that became “Heavy Metal.”
“I’ve gone back and listened to that stuff and have reworked some more of it,” he continued. “The title song from my album Road to Forever was another one that I’d recorded and submitted to Don (Henley) and Glenn (Frey), and they just didn’t think it was really, you know, Eagles material. So, if they weren’t into it, it just didn’t happen. Now I can go in and record anything I want. I have my own first class, top notch recording studio. And I do that all the time, I go in there with an idea, I fire it up and record some guitar parts and immediately start working on putting together a piece of music. If I like it and I release it, then I hope other people like it too. If I don’t like it, then it goes to digital heaven.”
Felder built his home studio over 40 years ago, prior to the digital recording revolution. It’s safe to say that he’s versed in current technological trends, but he takes pride in having cut his teeth at a time when there were fewer tricks available to artificially sweeten records.
“Our producer and engineer Bill Szymczyk used to say that if you can’t make a record with the 24 available tracks, you’re in the wrong business. You had to be able to play on time and sing in tune. You know what there was before Pro Tools, right? There were pros. They didn’t need the tools.”
Felder’s current band meets his stringent glove test, and his enthusiasm about delivering an unabashedly Eagles-centric show is unstoppable.
“Everybody plays and sings remarkably well,” he said. “I think they all have scars on their back from me cracking the whip on them to be able to play these songs impeccably… because I want it to be tight. I don’t want to go out and have mistakes, but these guys are on top of it. And so we take pride in how well we present these classic songs because it’s important to me that if I’m going to do a show like this, I have great people with me and we present audiences with a likeable, affable evening. Audiences enjoy these songs so much and feel like they can reach out to touch something they’ve been listening to for the last 40 or 45 years—here it is, live in front of them… and at a very affordable price! It makes me super happy to be able to do that and be back out playing live after this year and a half of just solitary confinement.”
The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River, MA. Tickets to this can be purchased online at narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.