ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Today, we received word that Glenn Frey has died. He was one of the founding members of the Eagles. And he was one of the key songwriters for that influential band. Frey was 67. He had been fighting a variety of medical problems. Joining us to discuss his impact is our music reviewer, Tom Moon. Welcome back to the show.
TOM MOON, BYLINE: Great to be with you.
SHAPIRO: I have such a strong association with the sound of The Eagles. It is, like, guitars and driving on the West Coast in the summer. Talk about what this band created with their unique sound.
MOON: With the top down and the, you know, the hair blowing backward - basically they codified and gave us a framework for California rock. And they did it not once but over and over again. They sort of created and built on mythology that had been started by people like Jackson Browne and Buffalo Springfield and some other people. But what they did was they took those ideas of being out in the desert and on the Pacific Coast Highway, and they made it immediately accessible. And you hear that right away in one of their first hits from '72, "Take It Easy."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE IT EASY")
THE EAGLES: (Singing) Well, I'm running down the road trying to loosen my load. I've got seven women on my mind - four that want to own me, two that want to stone me. One says she's a friend of mine. Take it easy. Take it easy. Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.
SHAPIRO: And what was Glenn Frey's role in this band?
MOON: Well, the Eagles were one of those rare bands that had several singers and multiple songwriters. And they - their roles shift from song to song. He is one of the principal songwriters, and was responsible along with Don Henley for writing a lot of their hits. They had 24 Top-40 singles...
MOON: ...which is kind of mind blowing. And on some of those, Glenn wrote but didn't sing them. On others, he wrote and co-wrote and then did sing them on the 1975 record "One Of These Nights." A hit for him was this great song "Lyin' Eyes."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LYIN' EYES")
THE EAGLES: (Singing) I thought by now you'd realize there ain't no way to hide your lyin' eyes.
SHAPIRO: He also had a successful career beyond the Eagles. Talk about his other projects.
MOON: Yeah. He had a solo career. He had a big hit in 1985 with "The Heat Is On." He was an actor. He was on "Miami Vice" in an episode called "Smuggler's Blues" that was sort of centered around a song that he wrote. He was also on "Nash Bridges." He was in the film "Jerry Maguire." He was one of those people that did a lot in his career. And he didn't just write a lot of great songs, but he also sort of embodied that California spirit.
SHAPIRO: One song he wrote but did not sing on which seems like an appropriate note to conclude on as we remember Glenn Frey was "Desperado."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPERADO")
THE EAGLES: (Singing) Desperado, why don't you come to your senses? You been out ridin' fences for so long now.
MOON: Yeah. That to me is kind of the quintessential Eagles moment. It was not a hit at the time, but it really captures that idea of the mythology, that sound. There's a lot of dust in it. There's this kind of vaguely ancient feeling to it. It's - could have been written at the turn of the century, you know, in the 1890s. It has a gold dust quality. And it's just a beautiful classic song, and it sort of sums up what people think of when they think about the Eagles.
SHAPIRO: That's music critic Tom Moon remembering Glenn Frey who has died at the age of 67. Thanks for talking with us.
MOON: Thanks for having me.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPERADO")
THE EAGLES: (Singing) Don't your feet get cold in the winter time? The sky won't snow, and the sun won't shine. It's hard to tell the nighttime from the day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.