When I graduated high school in 1974, I was 16 and had failed my road test twice. I owned a car, but couldn’t drive it. I craved New York City, but was told I was too young and innocent to live there. Plus my mother still needed me to babysit my younger sisters while she dated and I didn’t.
And so I remained stranded in suburbia, at Manhattanville College. Manhattanville had been a Catholic girls’ school but had gone coed and non-denominational five years earlier. This meant there were three girls to every boy. Between those odds, my lack of a car and living at home, my misery soared even higher than its high school level.
To add indignity to insult, my mother had to drive me to college every day. She had just taken her first job ever and had not yet burned out on the concept of working for a living. And so she would drop me early in her hideous red Ford station wagon – of course in a spot out of public view – and pick me up late. I spent hours haunting the student store to kill time until she arrived or I passed my road test, whichever came first.
The music department at the Manhattanville store was smaller than my own record collection at home. I was a music junkie, obsessively listening, mulling lyrics and reading Rolling Stone. This store had little that interested me, but because I was a captive audience, I expanded my horizons.
I ended up buying back-catalog albums by the Eagles. Until then, they hadn't made my East Coast radar, but after my car-less period I was hooked for life.
The Eagles' albums were revelatory and I loved all three of them.
I especially loved the second album, Desperado, with its more macho version of Linda Rondstadt’s hit from the previous year.
Oh, how I wanted to let somebody love me! Oh, how late I felt it was!
I wasn’t yet 21, but looked forward to feeling the way the lyrics to “21” described:
Got no cause to be afraid or fear that life will ever fade
I can’t give a reason why I should ever want to die
By the time I turned 17, I had my license and life started to turn around. “One of These Nights” became the soundtrack to the best summer of my life, and opens my book The Cusp of Everything. That’s the great thing about the Eagles, and the reason I mourn Glenn Frey so achingly. Their music captures the essence of life: deep feelings, growing up, accepting change. The loss of Glenn Frey is just one I don’t want to accept.