In the wake of a rumored threat from Don Henley to sue over sampling the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” R&B singer Frank Ocean took to the Internet to plead his case: “Shit’s weird. Ain’t this guy rich as fuck? Why sue the new guy?”
The Eagles have accused the Odd Future rapper of lifting “the whole master track” for Ocean’s new tune “American Wedding” from their original hit 1976 song. “This is not creative … it’s illegal,” an Eagles spokesman said in a statement.
“American Wedding” was included on a free mixtape called Nostalgia. Ocean said that because he never sold the track, it could be seen as a way of paying tribute to the band: “I didn’t make a dime off that song,” Ocean said. “I released it for free. If anything I’m paying homage.”
The Eagles are still weighing their legal options.
“For the record, Don Henley has not threatened or instituted any legal action against Frank Ocean, although the Eagles are now considering whether they should,” the band spokesman said. “Frank Ocean did not merely ‘sample’ a portion of the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’; he took the whole master track, plus the song’s existing melody, and replaced the lyrics with his own.”
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on the Eagles. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
THE EAGLES – LONG ROAD OUT OF EDEN (2007): A record that plays to all their strengths: crisp songwriting by the Frey/Henley partnership (“I Love To Watch A Woman Dance” is drop dead gorgeous), simple but precise musicianship and gorgeous harmonies. In fact, the harmonies sound even better than during their heyday; we’re talking CSNY good, people. This isn’t a record that bothers in the least to follow any trend, it’s unabashedly an Eagles record. As Henley sings, “I’ve been waiting in the weeds,” the Eagles seemed to be doing just that before springing their perfected blend of country, rock and folk on a public that’s most likely ready to hear this kind of music again.
ONE TRACK MIND: TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT, “FRIDAY NIGHT” (2011): It’s like we never left Laurel Canyon. “Friday Night,” a newly issued single from Timothy B. Schmit’s most recent solo release Expando, is deliriously retro, with a welcome warbly assist from special guest Garth Hudson of the Band and a mellow-gold lyric about lighting candles and snuggling up for the weekend. As much as it might feel like a cliche — as much as it very much is a cliche — there’s a sweet melancholy to Schmit’s voice that sells it right past your initial objections. He’s the mediator, the whoa-man in a maelstrom of trouble — a role he’s been playing for years amidst the ever-tumultuous Eagles. Free of all of that, Schmit finally settles into a comfy Americana vibe again.
J.D. SOUTHER – NATURAL HISTORY (2011): Natural History was just the the second J.D. Souther solo effort in 25 years — following 2008′s If The World Was You. That curious quietude from such a talented creative voice has only deepened Souther’s essential anonymity. It also makes the choice to revisit his most notable compositions all the more important for those unfamiliar with his work. Well, it turns out you know the work — even if you don’t know the name. By the end of Natural History, it becomes clear that Souther did more than sketch out the emotional landscape for the introspective West Coast country-rock sound of the 1970s. He set the template. In keeping, he lovingly reshapes songs he wrote or co-wrote that have become closely associated with more well-known artists — including, of course, the Eagles.
GIMME FIVE: SONGS WHERE THE EAGLES, WELL, SUCKED: The Eagles have been rightly praised for their canny combining of Glenn Frey’s city-slicker R&B with Don Henley’s country-fried rockabilly. Fans responded by sending every one of their albums to platinum status, including the 16-times smash Hotel California in 1976 and its seven-times platinum follow ups The Long Run and Long Road Out of Eden, from 1979 and 2007 respectively. That said, some of their work simply can’t be received with the best of our love. Over time, the Eagles seemed to settle into imitating their past successes, even as they slowly erased much of their rootsier early sound — not to mention Bernie Leadon. Then there was Henley’s growing voice in the band, if only because he’s always had a tendency toward pedantic, blissfully unaware fingerpointing. Which compelled us to start a list of the five worst offenders.