The Eagles dogpiling continues.
First off, if you haven’t had a chance, read Scott Malchus’ great review of Don Felder’s “Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001).” Good stuff. But this writer is fond of anything that makes Glen Frey look like a hack and a douchebag, so there you go.
It’s a safe bet that Don Henley had no idea how dated his work would become. Even his best songs are sealed off from the rest of the world in an aerosol can hair spray-coated bubble. This owes less to his music’s production value – though that was certainly a factor with “Dirty Laundry” – than the fiery anti-Reagan rhetoric that punctuated every song that wasn’t aimed at some fork in the road or other. (Fans of the Eagles’ “Good Day in Hell” just chuckled, hopefully.) In the case of “All She Wants to Do Is Dance,” though, both its production and subject matter tie the song to the ground “General’s Daughter”-style, and leave it to die. Yahtzee!
Written by longtime collaborator and ‘70s session guitarist extraordinaire Danny “Kooch” Kortchmar, “All She Wants to Do Is Dance,” the second single from Henley’s triple-platinum Building the Perfect Beast, certainly has the spirit of a Henley song, wagging a finger at Americans for having little regard for the atrocities that go on outside its borders. And with a title like that, you may as well go whole hog and make the track as danceable as possible, right? Who knows, maybe Henley and Kooch deliberately went overboard with the keytars and fake horns in order to make a point – a soulless, plastic dance track about soulless, plastic people – and then laughed all the way to the bank when the song went Top Ten. Today, however, it’s the turd in Henley’s punch bowl.
Ah, the post-Apocalyptic disco. Early ‘80s videos were all about the post-Apocalyptic world – Daryl Hall and John Oates’ “Adult Education,” “Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself,” and even Rock Springfield’s “Bop ‘Til You Drop” all featured some silly vision of a world all blow’d up – but to see the stoic and serious Henley in that getup on that sound stage is truly amusing. His videos from this point forward would be deathly serious. And, not coincidentally, they were also pretty dull.
As for the remix of the song, well, that’s the one thing they got right. Legendary disco DJ John Luongo gave the drum track some much-needed bottom end, highlighted the backing vocals from Patty Smyth and Martha Davis, and even added a second fake horn solo in the outro. If it has a flaw, it’s that his mix is rather minimalist. Busier would have been better. Still, considering what he had to work with, the fact that was even able to make lemonade out of these lemons is impressive.
Henley and Kooch can laugh at us all they want for living our lives without fighting for the causes of people we’ve only seen on TV, but there is something to be said for enjoying the moment, something Henley seems reluctant to do. “All She Wants to Do Is Dance,” as awkward as it is, is the last time he enjoyed the moment, even if the song wants to think it’s not. That’s rather sad, when you think about it.