37 Years Ago: Joe Walsh Enlists His Famous Bandmates for ‘… But Seriously Folks’
Joe Walsh’s fourth album, … But Seriously Folks, is best known for producing the hit single “Life’s Been Good.” But that’s just the most obvious starting point of a record that proved to be one of Walsh’s most durable LPs.
Comparisons to the Eagles for the album came early and often — and not just because this was the first stand-alone project Walsh released after he joined the group before 1976’s Hotel California. All four of his bandmates appeared on … But Seriously Folks, though they’re mere footnotes on an album that strikes a more considered balance of introspection and biting wit, and of smart balladry and tough rockers, than the reconstituted Eagles’ deflating finale The Long Run.
Walsh moves with cunning and verve through the expected joys of country rockers like “Second Hand Store” and the surprising reggae rhythms of “Over and Over,” from the incisive nostalgia of “Indian Summer” to the fully realized instrumental wit of “Theme From Boat Weirdos.”
Even casual fans will notice signature elements of the Eagles sound throughout, from the soaring background vocals of Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit on “Tomorrow” to Don Felder’s pedal steel on “Second Hand Store.” Walsh and Felder then reanimate their twin-guitar “Hotel California” entanglement on “At the Station.” But it remains, at its core, Walsh’s record, dominated not by the Eagles but by Walsh’s vision. Don’t let the winks and nudges fool you. As with Walsh’s other must-buy solo album, The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get, he’s in complete command of his muse, something that becomes utterly clear on the hilarious album closer “Life’s Been Good.”
A comic depiction of the quote-unquote hardships of rock stardom, the song appeared on … But Seriously Folks not in the zippy four-minute version that went to No. 12 on the pop chart but as an extended anthem of double that length. Along the way, it earned fame separate from the charts when Walsh ran for president in 1980 as a lark. He suggested, tongue firmly in cheek, that “The Star-Spangled Banner” be replaced by “Life’s Been Good.” That didn’t happen. But it certainly became Walsh’s personal good-time anthem — and a staple of his concerts, with and without the Eagles, even today.
Understandably, many listen to … But Seriously Folks almost 40 years later to relive that moment in time. But there’s an entire album’s worth of Walsh to enjoy here.
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