Randy Meisner was fed up. His marriage was breaking up, he was exhausted, and this tour seemed like it was never going to end.
What’s more, deep down, he was struggling with his new-found stardom. He was a shy man at heart, and while he was OK with being the bass player in the band, he struggled when the fact that he wrote and sang one of the band’s biggest hits meant that he had to sing it every night as one of the centrepoints of the set.
So says the picture painted by the Netflix documentary History of the Eagles. It came to a head one night backstage when Meisner refused to sing Take it to the Limit as the encore number. The co-leader of the band, Glenn Frey insisted he do it, the two fell out, and Meisner left the band soon after.
It was Frey’s explanation for his insistence that struck me though. ‘Randy – there’s thousands of people waiting to hear you sing that song. You can’t just say F*** ‘em I don’t feel like it. Do you think I like singing Take it Easy and Peaceful Easy Feeling – I mean I’m tired of those songs, but there’s people in the audience who have been waiting years to see us do those songs’.
It never occurred to me that a hugely successful band like the Eagles would get tired of singing the same song every night. But it makes complete sense. Of course they would. Especially when they seemed to try to reproduce every note played on the recordings live which meant no room for improvisation or changing things up from night to night.
If you’re in that situation there are two things you can do.
1. Change the situation – i.e. leave the band or try and convince the others to change things up a little.
2. Do the songs the same way each night, but commit to it. If you think that is the best thing for the band and for your fans, well then do it, but do it to the best of your ability. Make that groove a little tighter, get that bit more in tune with your harmonies, connect with the song on a deeper level emotionally. Take it to the limit…one more time.
It’s easier said than done of course, but for me Frey was right – think of the audience, and do what’s best for them. This is what we do, this is what The Eagles do. If that means doing the same thing night after night, then believe it and do it. That’s your job.