The Eagles Work Hard

If you are tempted to complain that you don’t have something you want, here is a way to use a mirror as your circle of truth. Simply keep a log of how you spend your time and your money for a month—it will tell you what you really value in life.
In: Column, Excellence

June 29, 2010

Last weekend Mary and I had a getaway trip to Dallas. I like to say we escape the stress of Hawkins by hitting the Metroplex—actually, the change of pace does relax. We stayed downtown and saw The Eagles in concert at the American Airlines Center. This was our fourth time seeing the most successful band of the ‘70s, and we loved it all over again. The Eagles have sold over 120 million albums worldwide, and their first Greatest Hits release is the best-selling album of all time.

In concert, The Eagles are all about musical performance. There is no need for pyrotechnics, gyrations, or constant, multi-sense bombardment from building-sized video screens. This time their stage resembled the famed Hollywood Bowl (where I saw a few shows as a youngster) with a large screen as a backdrop, but their use of imagery was restrained. For many songs, a simple background like fleecy clouds in a subdued blue sky lets the music make the magic.

Although the iconic band first made its mark with a unique country-folk-rock sound, the songs we heard included soft, a cappella ballads to horn-driven blues to Joe Walsh’s rock guitar work. (Walsh, a rockstar in his own right before he became an Eagle, is unleashed to strut and swagger after the intermission; the others simply sit or stand, play their instrument and sing). Joined by accomplished players on keyboards, percussion, strings, horns, and guitar, the musicianship is simply unexcelled. The signature sound, however, comes from the impeccable harmonies. As founding member and successful solo artist (and Texan), Don Henley said, “I simply sound better with these guys than I do by myself.” And his tenor voice still sounds beautiful, clear, and accurate!

How did these guys get to be so good, and how do they keep getting better? A strong hint comes from their circle of truth. As a guitar player, I know that loud volumes and distortion can hide a multitude of sins. So, in preparation for a tour, the Eagles sit in a circle with acoustic instruments, play and sing their parts in a forum where there is no hiding. Why are they so good? They practice relentlessly. As Joe Walsh said in his inimitable drawl, “Just because you wrote it doesn’t mean you can play it.” In the circle, every part, each nuance is perfected until the result is a tight, beautiful, seamless whole.

One of my basketball buddies commented about a documentary that claimed it took at least 3,500 hours of practice to become world-class at anything. That means I can become an accomplished pianist in just five years if I religiously practice two hours a day, 350 days a year. What, and give up Sportscenter? Exactly! I am not an accomplished pianist because it’s not that important to me. If it was, I have the power to do it.

The greatest key to achieving any goal is simply relentless HARD WORK! There was a time when the work ethic set America apart. What happened? People started whining that it wasn’t fair that one person had more than another. True, people have diverse talents, and yes, good breaks and bad luck do happen. But nine times out of ten, the math will show the more successful person simply outworked the other. If you are tempted to complain that you don’t have something you want, here is a way to use a mirror as your circle of truth. Simply keep a log of how you spend your time and your money for a month—it will tell you what you really value in life. It may show you that, like the average American, you want to excel at watching TV and living your life vicariously through others.

If you get the chance, go see The Eagles. The result of their hard work will delight you. If you want something more in life, take a few years and work for it.

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