Welcome to Songs, Stories, and Spirits. We’ll be jamming unwanted opinions on good music, good stories, and good booze down your ears, eyes, and throats on a weekly basis. We hope you enjoy. And if you don’t, there is a comment section below that we more than welcome you to ignore! Cheers!
Song: “Take it Easy” by The Eagles
Daniel Ford: “Hell Freezes Over,” The Eagles mid-1990s comeback album, debuted during my formative adolescence, so I’ve always had a soft spot for the band every music snob likes to pick on. I remember staying up late with a friend trying to figure out what the hell “Hotel California” was about. I carried the cassette with me on every road trip with my father (it battled with James Taylor’s “Greatest Hits” for dashboard supremacy).
While I loved the distinct, breezy sound, I wouldn’t appreciate the lyrics until adulthood—specifically, those co-written by the recently deceased Glenn Frey:
Well, I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed
Ford slowin' down to take a look at me
Because that’s what rock ‘n’ roll is all about, right? Being just cool enough that a good-looking, truck-driving girl stops to check you out.
There’s a great moment in the documentary “History of The Eagles” when Frey explains how he learned to write songs. He lived above Jackson Browne, who shares the writing credit on “Take it Easy,” and would listen to how hard Browne worked at crafting music. Browne’s teapot would whistle, which would alert Frey that serious musicianship was about to happen. Browne would play a melody or sing a phrase over and over again to get it perfect.
Frey mused about living above Browne, and songwriting in general, in a 2015 interview on “The Dan Patrick Show:”
RIP Glenn Frey, here’s hoping you’re somewhere with seven women on your mind.
Story: “A & P” by John Updike
Daniel: Updike’s best work features characters blowing out of Dodge. I don’t think I’ve ever read a more angtsy beginning to a novel than his masterpiece Rabbit, Run. Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom just keeps driving away from his town, bored of his old life and mundane ways.
Right around the same time I was reading that novel, Dave Pezza dropped “A&P” into my lap. I’ll admit, I was hooked by the first line for obvious reasons:
“In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits.”
Rather than simply devolving into a prepubescent tale featuring a lonely cashier inspired to quit his job because a couple of nearly-naked babes cross his path, “A&P” explores real depths of peak malaise and discontentment. The cashier indeed indulges in fantasy while performing his duties, however, all that comes to a halt when Updike employs this line of prose like a thunderbolt:
“Then everybody's luck begins to run out.”
Indeed. The end would seem cliché if it weren’t so spot on. One could say it’s the moment when the cashier decides to fully embrace the lyrics of “Take it Easy” by “running down the road,” trying to loosen his load. It’s less about teenage lust and more about personal freedom and the potential of boundless creativity.
Updike also captures the little things about working in a grocery store—the cranky, annoying customers, the entitled manager, the punishing fluorescent lights. Working in a grocery store can be soul crushing, even more so when your spirit is being strangled by an empty white shirt and tie. I vowed to my father I’d never work in a grocery store ever again (although I am thankful I got to work beside my old man for a couple of summers), and this story illustrates perfectly why I’ve stayed true to that vow.
Spirit: Patrón XO Cafe
Dave Pezza: I have been becoming painfully aware these past weeks that we truly live in a brand new world. The old ways, the old guard is falling away. Bowie, Rickman, Frey. For a guy like me who all but worships a time before cell phones, “social” media, and music up in a cloud somewhere, 2016 is already a massive pain in my ass. But somethings, thank god, never really change. Rock survives and is clawing out of its shallow ‘80s grave. In honor of the old ways, to early morning hours on a typewriter, to recording a song over and over until it’s right, to those tequila sunrises we recommend a newer twist on an old reliable: Patrón's very smooth XO Café tequila liquor.
For those of us who aren’t ashamed to get our morning drink on, Patrón has provided a vehicle for your morning tequila intake. Perfect for your morning coffee or, if you’re a badass, a morning wake-me-up shot, XO Café doesn’t require a lime or salt. XO Café offers a coffee-flavored infusion to a smooth tequila base, delivering a sweet kindness to a legendary tequila. In honor of that old glory try some in your morning coffee and keep on keeping on.