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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The classic Eagles song written about “our replacements”

There are many reasons why the Eagles remain one of the most resonant bands of their era. Namely, this is because their music addressed a range of universal human themes across their career, from the complexities of love to the reality of ageing.

It’s reflective of the polarising nature of the Eagles that John Lydon, the former frontman of punk heroes Sex Pistols, once criticised them for what he deems the hollow essence of their work. Lydon said: “They’re irrelevant. A band like that doesn’t write songs that mean anything. We’re the Charge of the Light Brigade, with decent generals, right?”

Yet, for all of the criticisms that can be sent in the Eagles’ way, whether due to their hell-raising lifestyles or that they represent the antithesis to the punk school of thought, objectively, they cannot be criticised for being hollow. Lydon was inaccurate in his reading of the band, as in addition to their musical props, the tangible nature of their words made them so lauded. They even referenced the Watergate scandal in one of their finest early efforts

One of their best-loved hits is ‘New Kid in Town’ from 1976’s masterpiece, Hotel California. An insightful peek into the famously fractious inner workings of the band, when speaking to Songfacts in 2011, one of its songwriters, J.D. Souther, explained that it is a nod to getting old and being replaced by newer, more competent models. The composition is also a reference to the ever-changing line-up of the Eagles because of this feature of life, with Souther saying that he, Glenn Frey and Don Henley “were writing about our replacements”.

Souther explained: “‘New Kid’ emerged from our whole fascination with gunfire as an analogy. The point was, at some point, some kid would come riding into town that was much faster than you, and he’d say so, and then he’d prove it. That’s the story of life.”

Continuing, Souther added: “That’s the story of ageing, especially coming out of your teenage and young man years and as you approach 30, you begin to see that things don’t stay the same forever. And that there’s a lot other guys like you and gals like you that want the same thing that are coming up, and they want their moment, too, and they’re going to get it. And it’s fine. It’s as it should be.”

‘New Kid in Town’ encapsulates the fleeting nature of fame and the allure of new beginnings. The harmonious vocals and soft rock composition showcase the band’s signature sound, painting a vivid picture of the complexities of acclaim and the cyclical nature of prominence in the music industry.

Listen to ‘New Kid in Town’ below.

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