Don Henley Musician Interview

By Mitchell Glazer

Los Angeles won't survive the night. Not a chance. For seven days the storms have chewed up the city. Forget the coastline: it's sliding into the blackened Pacific like a bad dream. Every morning the front desk calls cheerfully with another horror story. "Good morning sir, a tornado leveled ten blocks of downtown L.A.... Good morning sir, did you happen to feel that little earthquake we had around dawn?... Good morning sir, police helicopters spotted a cloud of locusts moving towards Santa Monica." The Universal Studio Tour is shut down and Charlton Heston is clamoring for a blood sacrifice. It's an ugly movie.

 

And tonight as I slide sideways down Laurel Canyon toward the glossy Record One recording studio and a meeting with Don Henley and Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar, I thank them for creating !he perfect soundtrack. It's a brooding little number: dark, oily Farfisa organ, limb-snapping drums and a voice as edgy and dangerous as high winds. No doubt about it-the destruction of Los Angeles demands "Dirty Laundry."

 

Safety inside the studio Henley, Kootch and the third member of their production learn, Grammy Award winning Greg Ladanyi, remix the third single from Henley's I Can't Stand Still -"Nobody's Business," Kootch lights a cigarette and shrugs. "Let's see what we got." With his black hair slicked back and dark good looks Kootch should be leasing juke boxes to East side bars instead of playing on them. Henley leans back in his chair stretching. "Hell, I don't think I can tell the difference anymore," he sighs. Kootch looks past Henley at me and smiles, "Check this out."

 

Ladanyi punches the play button and out snarls the meanest Link Wray in decades, playing something that sounds like the Bonanza theme. The song gallops along wildly after it. The motion and humor of Kootch's intro makes you giddy. "Roots," Kootch says, lifting an eyebrow. "The recording team of the 80s!" shouts Ladanyi. "I liked the first take better," laughs Henley.

 

The merger of Henley and Kortchmar is surprising and inevitable considering the tangled Los Angeles musical tree. Kootch first surfaced when he and Martha's Vineyard buddy James Taylor formed the now legendary Flying Machine in Greenwich Village in 1966. During his fifteen years with Taylor, Kortchmar's soulful, rhythmic and distinctive guitar attracted other artists and Danny contributed to Carole King, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt-virtually every musician of note in California. Except Don Henley. For most of the last decade Henley worked within the confines of the Eagles. The two artists drifted past each other for ten years, never really connecting until Henley began assembling musicians tor his own album. His guitarist of choice-Danny Kortchmar.

 

At first glance, these two make less sense as friends than as musical collaborators. If Kootch is the Al Pacino of rock 'n roll, Texan Henley is the Gary Cooper. Henley, literate and thoughtful, chooses his words carefully; Kootch unleashes emotional explosions. In conversation as well as art they complement each other.

 

MUSICIAN: As distinguished rock survivors, what do you think about the state of rock 'n' roll these days?

 

HENLEY: I think music is in a real state of transition right now, like it was in the mid-60s. There's a whole new generation of kids coming up and I think the people who run record companies are either too old or too out of touch to get on the bandwagon quick enough. A lot of music is real shallow right now. People seem to be lost, to be groping for something and there aren't any leaders right now, no Beatles or Elvis Presley.

 

Rock is definitely recycling. Look at the Stray Cats: everything is recycled and nothing is really new. I mean, "Dirty Laundry" is just the blues, but we put a lot of technology into it, and put some subject matter into it. That's what I like to do. I had a manager who once said, "There's two kinds of songs: there's beat songs that you can dance to, and there are message songs." And I always thought, "Why can't you have both? Why does it have to be one or the other?"

 

MUSICIAN: How do you two collaborate?

 

KORTCHMAR: Well, for "Dirty Laundry," Don had the idea for writing a song about the media and the fascination with the negative and we bandied it about, we talked about it a lot, what we wanted to say. Then I went home one night and came up with this perfect groove on the Fartisa organ, 'cause it's real tense, nervous. I came up with the first verse, I think, and Don already had a bunch of stuff he wanted lo say.

 

MUSICIAN: You seem very comfortable writing with Henley.

 

KORTCHMAR: Well, Don's always been collaborating with guys and then was taken out of that situation and went through a big fear. With me it's the exact opposite: I never collaborated with anybody, except a little bit with Jackson Browne. Don wanted to start his album, and he had no idea what he was going to do, but he wanted me to play on it. I went up to his house and a couple of other guys like Waddy (Wachtel) were there. We just started rehearsing, and messing around. We went in the studio and cut that track you just heard, "Nobody's Business," And the night after that, I went back to his house and he said, "Listen why don't you produce this album?" It was really a bold move on Don's part because first of all everyone wanted to produce Don, everyone wanted to be involved with Don. He just decided on me.

 

HENLEY: Gut instinct. I knew I needed a good musician 'cause I'm not and I knew I needed a good guitar player. I mostly play piano. I play drums like a songwriter; I don't do anything fancy, just play the beat and try not to get in the way.

 

KORTCHMAR: It's an amazing advantage that Don is a singer/songwriter whose instrument is drums. He doesn't play a harmony instrument like guitar or piano, so he writes purely on melody. It's like a blind guy-his sense of hearing and sense of touch are intensified because of his sightlessness. Good melodies suggest the chord changes. And Henley's capable of doing that.

 

MUSICIAN: That's the classic R&B way of doing it.

 

HENLEY: I can remember playing and singing a lot of R&B in Texas. The ending of "Long Way Home" is a Stevie Wonder move, I got that from him. And that's like a real whimsical kind of thing to put in a serious song like that but you know I thought that was a good touch, I've been accused of being too negative in my song writing. But most of rock 'n' roll is rebellion and negativity. I mean, I was so outraged when I wrote "Dirty Laundry." I was outraged by the way they treated John Belushi after he was dead and the way they treated Natalie Wood. I was just outraged at the news media in general. I guess I don't like the media very much. When I got busted they printed my address in the Los Angeles Times and the Herald Examiner. I wasn't a real close friend of John's but I knew him and I liked him a lot. He was a very kind man, a nice man. Every time we played in Chicago, he and Danny Aykroyd would come to see us and they would hang out-, he was a good guy. And I mean the things that the Police Department said about him and said to his wife and stuff really pissed me off.

 

The song caused a big stir in the news industry. NBC called me up and Good Morning America wanted to talk to me about it. But I didn't want to talk about it because it's self-explanatory. I still don't think of myself as a songwriter. I think it's a big joke, you know; I'm embarrassed about it. You know that song by Paul Simon, "Faking It"? Yeah well that's the way I feel. I think a lot of my friends who are songwriters feel that way.

 

MUSICIAN: Because it comes easily?

 

HENLEY: No, because I just don't I'm think an accomplished musician-which has never been a prerequisite for being a great songwriter; in fact most of the good songwriters I know are not very good musicians. I don't know, I just haven't gotten used to the idea. If I didn't have the pressure I probably wouldn't do it at all. Danny Fogelberg and Stevie Nicks write all the time, they write five or six songs a week. And some of them are good and some of them aren't. I don't finish a song if it's not any good. When Kootch played me the music that turned out to be "Lila," it sounded sorta like Van Morrison. I always wanted to write a song about Ireland and about the conflict there and I always wanted to use the Chieftains. It just fit with this thing that I already had in my head.

 

KORTCHMAR: You build up a vocabulary of ideas. I've got bits and pieces and fragments of things, just hundreds, that I'll draw on. If I need a bridge I'll use something that was a whole song and just take part of it and use it as an intro.

 

MUSICIAN: So you cannibalize your own stuff?

 

HENLEY: I read a lot. I read every kind of magazine you can imagine. You oughta see my house. There's no place to sit.

 

KORTCHMAR: We've got files about different topics that we want to address ourselves to. We've got TV cassettes, we do research. We're serious as a heart attack about making albums. It's a very thin line because you also can't be self indulgent.

 

HENLEY: The smarmy, maudlin love songs are the easiest! One thing I'm proud of on this album is I have a sense of humor. All the critics always said how serious the Eagles were. We never really took ourselves that seriously at all. We joked about it all the time, but maybe it didn't come through in the music. I think I finally managed to get some humor into my music on this album. It's a very dry humor, it's not your basic knee-slapping fart jokes, but it does come across.

 

MUSICIAN: How do these new songs compare to early Eagle love songs, like "Wasted Time"?

 

HENLEY: Well, regarding some of the early Eagle songs, I agree with some of our critics now, that we were young, immature, male chauvinists and some of our songs came out like that, But then you grow up. I don't want to write those kind of songs anymore. Besides, those were a collaborative effort, those weren't necessarily my opinions. Just to get a song written is hard enough. Sometimes you don't quite have time to sit down and reflect on whether you're being objective, or you're being fair or you're right or not-it's just emotion. So it just gushes out, and a lot of the early love songs were based on relationships that we had, when something didn't work out, or we thought we'd been put down by a girl. But we were angry young men. I remember getting flack from women about "Lying Eyes," and I thought that song was pretty well balanced. We didn't blame it on the girl, it wasn't her fault at all. It was everybody's fault. It was the situation. Women gave me a ton of shit about that. I couldn't believe it, cause it was just a song-I mean what about "Under My Thumb"?

 

KORTCHMAR: That's a revenge tune. In any case, when you write about relationships the idea is just to get as deep as you can, instead of "I love you, I don't love you, I want you, I don't want you." All you can draw from is your own experiences and if it feels right, you know it's because it tells the story accurately for you.

 

MUSICIAN: Don, as a member of a super group, it must have been hard to have "normal" relationships. Once you're isolated from what you were originally, separated from most people, are you afraid of losing the feeling you write about?

 

HENLEY: It's a constant struggle to keep in touch with that. I go home a lot, where I was brought up, and try to remember. I can't write fiction very well; I'm one of those guys who has to live the trip, I have to, but you can't do that cause it'll kill you. Eventually. I think I'm a lot more objective now, a lot more reflective, it's not quite as much instant gut emotion as it used to be. Now when I write a love song I think, "Well am I being fair? Am I looking at this from both sides?" You know that's that other line in "Long Way Home,"-"there's three sides to every story..." It's hard to keep in touch but I don't think I've lost touch.

 

MUSICIAN: Is a relationship, a monogamous relationship, something you want?

 

HENLEY: Very much so and it's hard here in this city and being in this business, but I've finally grown up, here at thirty-five. I think I've finally got it down. It means something to me; I finally found a girl that I really love but this business makes it so difficult because it's thrown at you all the time. That line in one of James Taylor's songs, "I hear horns, I hear voices, I guess I was born with too many choices." It's a great line.

 

KORTCHMAR: Especially in Los Angeles and this rarefied society, this insane society, you've gotta keep reminding yourself about the eternal verities.

 HENLEY: If a relationship doesn't work, you say, "well it's the wrong girl," and sometimes it is but you gotta work at it-it's a j ob, it doesn't just work itself; there are no easy answers. You've gotta criticize yourself, which is where a lot of people fall down because they can't do that. Even in my song writing I'm very self-critical, to a point where it stifles me, sometimes paralyzes me. Which is not to say that ... I mean the Eagles were criticized for making every thing too meticulous and making records nice and clean, stuff like that. But if you listen to the songs, the subject matter and the playing weren't meticulous.

 

People confused our standards and our direction with our production values. It just so happens that we had an engineer and producer that recorded in a certain style and it wasn't slam bam and it wasn't loose and it wasn't sloppy. Now I have a whole different direction that I want to go in. I like leakage, I like mistakes, I like sloppiness and stuff. Because that's okay. I liked it then but couldn't get it because I was part of the band.

 

MUSICIAN: Did you argue for it?

 

HENLEY: Sometimes, yeah, but I didn't get it. I was never satisfied with my drum sound. It's amazing. If you've got a great drum sound, you sound like the greatest drummer in the world and if you don't you sound like a lousy drummer. I'm not a great drummer, but I'm adequate. I played what needed to be played. But I got a reputation somehow as not being a very good drummer because-and I don't want to cast any bad light or any aspersions on Bill Szymczyk, because he was very good at what he did-but my drums never quite sounded like I wanted them to sound. The drums on "I Can't Stand Still" and "Them And Us," that's more what I wanted to say.

 

KORTCHMAR: You'd never in a million years guess that was the same drummer that played on the Eagles records.

HENLEY: That's why I say people confuse production values with ability somehow.

 

MUSICIAN: How did the Eagles organize tasks in the studio?

 

HENLEY: We tried to be a democracy and we weren't because that never really works for very long. Everybody got to say their piece, but ultimately Glenn Frey and I would have the last say.

 

KORTCHMAR: Most of my experience is pretty much the opposite of Don's. I was working for a lot of different people, doing what I call "Leroying." Not to put it down; I know I learned how to play with all these great writers like James Taylor but I'd been playing rock 'n' roll in bands until the early 70s when I started working with James and Carole King. They were playing this really laid-back pop music and I kinda got hung with it, or I always railed against it. Obviously James is not going to go out and sound like AD /DC, but it got to the point where when I started working with Don it was the first time that I'd gotten to do what I really wanted to do.

 

HENLEY: And me too! Don't get me wrong, I'm real proud of a lot of the stuff we did in the Eagles, and the way we did it was appropriate for the time. But times have changed now.

 

We were always accused of being very mellow, but we were a bunch of maniacs. It was simply the style of engineering and miking and stuff that our producer employed and he was excellent. He's a very talented man, Bill, and he's a wonderful guy. He's like sort of a father to all of us-he was a mediator, a psychiatrist, a counselor. And there's a careful quality about him. But then that's why we hired him in the first place, because we went from Glyn Johns to him. Johns' approach was the total opposite-two mikes on the drums and a lot of echo. But it wasn't powerful. Glyn had an image of us as a ballad group; he didn't want us to be rock'n' roll and he didn't think we could play rock 'n' roll, and he'd engineered the Stones on LPs like Exile On Main Street, so who the hell were we to be wanting to play rock 'n' roll? I mean he told us we couldn't play rock 'n' roll and to forget it. He was a complete tyrant. I'm still friends with him, but we were really young and green, and he just lorded over us, man. I mean he would give us three chances to do a track or a vocal and if that was the best we could do then that was it. The albums, Eagles and Desperado, were cheap but good. And he worked with all the heavies so we couldn't argue.

 

I remember Johns didn't like dope, so we'd have to sneak off to the bathroom to do dope. And in 1973 during one track (on the first, unreleased version of On The Border), I said, Glyn can't you make me sound like John Bonham? And he sorta looked down his nose at me and said, "You don't play like John Bonham." I said, "Aw, I know, but turn it up, you know." We'd record and do everything just like he wanted it. Glenn was always the first guy'to rebel, and so he'd been checking out American producers. He listened to some of Bill Szymczyk's stuff with J. Geils and "Frankenstein" by Edgar Winter and liked the way that stuff sounded. So he said, "I think we should go with this guy Szymczyk." So we hired him and he was like a soul mate. We got along really well; he'd get just as high and crazy as we were.

 

MUSICIAN: Kootch, what was your feeling hearing Don and the Eagles' early stuff?

 

KORTCHMAR: I'll ell you exactly what my feeling was. When the Eagles first came out, I thought they were absolutely appalling. I couldn't stand them. Absolutely terrible. Especially things like "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and "Take It Easy."'Cause what they were saying was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to hear, what was going on in my life. Take Jackson's "Peaceful Easy Feeling": here's this song that says "walking down the road in Tucson, Arizona, seven women on my mind." (sic) And here I am trying to keep my marriage together, and this guy's got seven women on his mind! God, it sounded like they were having fun, but I sure wasn't (laughter).

 

The first time I really realized how great Don was was after "One Of These Nights." On that particular tune, it came out. Don is the kind of singer that has intense soul without using any soul licks. He doesn't go "yeah yeah". He doesn't use any of those licks and it still has bite and atmosphere; it sounds like it's coming from the bayou. If I could sing, I would want to sing exactly like him.

 

HENLEY: One thing that the Eagles did that never really got noticed very much or talked about is pretty heavily into R&B. We were influenced by Al Green. "I Can't Tell You Why" is straight Al Green, 'cause Glenn was a big R&B freak. He's from Detroit,and he grew up with all that stuff. When we first started trying to do it on the third album, it was terrible and too white, but we got better at it.

 

The press judge you by your first work. Our first couple of albums were that Desperado country-rock stuff and we got put into that category, filed in that slot, and no matter what we did after that, we could not break away from that category. We were always that from then on. If we did "Teenage Jail" and "Life In The Fast Lane," we were still a country-rock band.

KORTCHMAR: Same thing happened to me as a session musician. I got typecast from playing with James Taylor in this soft rock California mode. Examine any of those sessions or any of the sessions of our album. In the latter case we'd have an English drummer, a Jamaican percussionist, two Jewboys from New York, a Texan and a guy from Gainesville, Florida. That's California music?

 

HENLEY: California is just a melting pot for America anyway. It's just a synthesis and it's avant-garde, it's a leader. Whatever happens here usually filters out to the rest of the nation. People make a mistake if they think that Hotel California was just about California-it was a metaphor for the rest of the world. That sounds pretty grandiose but that's what we had in mind when we wrote it. California is in the vanguard, the Fast Lane.

 

MUSICIAN: That song became a figure of speech.

 

HENLEY: If I had a nickel for every time I saw "life in the fast lane" in print! Actually, Glenn came up with that line.

 

MUSICIAN: That must have been a wonderful feeling during Hotel California, really hitting your stride.

 

HENLEY: Yeah, oh yeah. That's a great feeling when you get that. We got that on One Of These Nights a little bit too. And then sometimes it just goes away completely. Right now, for instance, Kootch and I are supposed to start this next album and I'm not particularly fired up about it because I have all these Pavlovian negative residual feelings about how hard it is. I mean it's not easy for me to write songs, 'cause I really have to stir up my insides. I have to work myself up into a state of frenzy and madness.

 

MUSICIAN: Don, how did you feel when you knew the Eagles were drifting apart?

 

HENLEY: Well ... you feel it happening but you don't want to destroy what you've got. The last album, The Long Run, was just miserable. I mean, we weren't ready to do it, we weren't inspired. We weren't getting along too well. And still there were managers and the record company and they had all these dollar signs in their eyes, saying, "Give it to us! You can do it!" The fact is, we peaked with Hotel California. That was our finest hour, and although The Long Run had some interesting moments on it, it wasn't as good.

 

MUSICIAN: Is that something you were aware of?

 

HENLEY: Sure I was aware of it. It was the best we could do at the time and it was all we could do to do that. It was a good thing we broke up, in retrospect, because we'd always said, "We want to step off this wave at the crest, we don't want to crash into the beach, and try to get back up." So it was exactly the right thing to do, profits be damned. I don't know how we stayed together as long as we did. I mean, you have to subordinate your ego to the songs; the song is the most important thing and if the albums aren't good, then we all lose. It drove Glenn and me completely crazy and gave us grey hairs and ulcers, because everybody wants to be quarterback, everybody wants to be the guy who sings and writes the songs. The quarterback is the guy who gets all the glory and the credit and the girls. And the guys who block are the unsung heroes. But we all managed to do it for ten years, before this "Eagle" thing started to get in the way.

 

Kootch is a lot like what Glenn was, in a way. Glenn never thought of himself as a great lead player, he was sort of intimidated by Joe Walsh and Don Felder, even though he hired them. But Glenn was like the glue, he was like what Keith Richards is to the Rolling Stones- he was a great rhythm player; he understood the importance of Chuck Berry and of great rhythm guitar. He understood how to play in his place and stay in his place and make everybody else look good, not have to step out in the spotlight and take a solo and be a virtuoso. And Danny is that way, too. He plays all the great rhythm parts and arranges all the stuff, and can play lead when he wants to. Danny's a little more avant-garde and crazy and more modern than Glenn, but they're both walking encyclopedias of the history of rock 'n' roll. You can name a song title and he or Glenn could tell you who did it, what label it was on, what year it came out. It's such a new art form anyway-if you want to call it art.

 

MUSICIAN: How did the final decision to not continue with the Eagles happen?

 

HENLEY: This was something that had been building up for a long time. I think it started right after Hotel California. That's when Glenn and I started growing in opposite directions.

 

MUSICIAN: Up to that point you had been friends.

 

HENLEY: We were like brothers; we lived together And then we had sown all our wild oats and we each wanted a steady girlfriend. There would be times when he would have a girlfriend and I wouldn't. Or I'd have a girlfriend and he wouldn't, and it just sort of separated us. You get so close that you can't stand each other sometimes, you know each other so well. And I wanted to write all about all these social issues and he didn't necessarily and we just grew apart musically and philosophically. A lot of things happened during The Long Run.

 

MUSICIAN: To force it in a way?

 

HENLEY: Yes. Glenn and Felder were at odds. Glenn just got tired of being the boss and being hated for it. With the king's life comes the king's work. If you're a leader, people are going to respect you and follow you, butthey're going to hate you at the same time. So that just got to be too much.

 

We just got tired. It's as simple as that-we just got tired. We ran out of inspiration, and to follow Hotel California was such a monumental task that it just scared us. Glenn felt like he was a great coach who put this team together and then didn't get to express himself enough. Due to fatigue and craziness and nervousness, some verbal exchanges went down during the making of The Long Run that didn't heal. We used to get in a room and just fight it out and talk it out, but it got to the point after awhile that we stopped communicating-and that's death.

 

Glenn called up one day and told me that he wanted to go and do some recording on his own. It was a casual conversation that started out being about football and then he interjected that he wanted to go do something on his own. He didn't necessarily mean by that that he wanted to break the group up but it pissed me off so bad, because I always thought in my mind that when the group broke up, we'd all get in the room together and get good and drunk and sort of cry on each other's shoulder and say, "Well it was great and I love you and we're gonna just quit now." He didn't mean to do it that abrupt way but it was too painful for him to do it any other way. He just sorta had to whip it out like that. I understand it now, but at the time it pissed me off. I just said to myself, "Well if he's going to make an album, I'm going to make an album, too!" So that's what happened. It'd been festering since 1977, it had been growing and building up. We watched all these other bands break up and we learned and we watched and we said, "We're not going to do that, we're going to avoid all these pitfalls and mistakes and stuff." But we had nine and a half, ten good years, so that's all you can ask for. In retrospect, he was right. It was time to stop because that last album was just so agonizing and uninspired, it was just miserable. We couldn't have gone on like that at all. I still love Glenn and I know that he still loves me and stuff.

 

MUSICIAN: Kootch, I guess you understand that feeling, after you left James Taylor around 1978.

 

KORTCHMAR: Boy, with James I had to leave, had to stop playing with him, and it was a real scary thing to do because it wasn't like I was inundated with work. But I absolutely had to stop recording and gigging with James, because I felt I had to play true rock 'n' roll for a change, and at this point I was like thirty-one or thirty-two years old. I felt, "Man, if I just keep going on in this direction, I'm going to get stuck here for life." And also, I was pushing James to do more rock 'n' roll with songs like "Honey, Don't Leave L.A.," and that was wrong, 'cause James is just not a rock 'n' roller. James shouldn't change; what he's doing works and it's what people expect of him. But with me, it was a situation of grow now or don't grow at all.

 

It was a situation that could have gotten ugly because I felt that way so strongly that I wouldn't have become a positive force; I would have been a thorn in everybody's side. Leaving James was not a courageous or bold thing to do-it was simply an utter necessity.

 

Playing with James on all those albums-Mudslide Slim, One Man Dog, Gorilla, In The Pocket, Flag, JT-whew, it got to be like walking on eggshells a lot of the time, because James' music has a lot of harmonic movement to it, a lot of delicate dynamics. My arpeggio approach with him was worked nicely into the framework we'd set up, but I'd be sitting there with my Telecaster, Stratocaster or Les Paul, getting more and more frustrated. Playing both with Carole King and with James taught me an awful lot about playing solo, but it became harder to exercise those skills I was acquiring. With James, most of the gigs were such that I couldn't ever open my amp up enough to get a little guitar ambience going. Part of the thing with rock guitar is that when you open an amplifier up, overtones come out; simple power chords, when played with volume, take up space in interesting ways; little things explode into big things. But I never got to pursue that stuff.

 

Moreover, in our later years it would be two or two-and-ahalf years between albums, with a certain amount of touring in between. Artistically, there wasn't enough stimulation there for me. You have to be careful about the resentment that can creep up. Happily, James and I were able to work it out.

 

MUSICIAN: Don, it must have been really liberating, really exciting to go off on your own....

 

HENLEY: I was petrified when the group broke up. I suppose I didn't think I could find anybody else. I thought Jesus Christ, who am I gonna write with now?! It's really difficult to try to find somebody to bury your soul with and somebody who can take a title or a concept like "Dirty Laundry" and could go home and give me a format or a vehicle or a pallet to paint with. And Kootch is real good at it. He just came up with the right colors. It's really refreshing to write with him, it opened me up. I'm growing. He doesn't always just present me with thetrack and then I put words on it. Sometimes I have a little piece of music, sometimes he has a melody idea.

 

The hardest thing for me about having a solo career is that previously I was immersed in the group image and it was safe and I was back behind the drums. Now it's a little bit scary because I don't want to be recognized. I'mgoing to have to get in front of an audiende, and as far as having my picture plastered all over the place and doing hundreds of interviews and being on talk shows and on the'covers of magazines, I don't look forward to that prospect.

 

MUSICIAN: Are you going to take this act on the road?

 

HENLEY: We're going to go on the road, but I want, to be damned sure, I want to have two albums out so I can have good repertoire and people know who I am.

 

MUSICIAN: How is the second album shaping up?

 

HENLEY: We've got some ideas. Personally I'd like to write that positive love song. Kind of a tribute to my old lady. There are also things I want to say about America. f know it'll be compared to Nylon Curtain and Nebraska but there's so much those albums didn't cover: The land, small farmers and what the government is doing to those people.

 

KORTCHMAR: We also want to write a tune called "Up Jumps The Devil."

 

HENLEY: Yeah. I've got a hard-on for Jerry Falwell and those preachers. I just finished a book called God's Bullies about those guys. I grew up a Southern Baptist and I know what it is to be scared into religion ... all that hell fire and damnation.

 

KORTCHMAR: We also want to do a reggae version of "Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat," that song from Guys And Dolls. Listen, there's a lot left to be written.

 

MUSICIAN: For rock 'n' roll veterans you guys seem optimistic, really excited about the future.

 

KORTCHMAR: Definitely. We're just gonna keep comin'. After the trends come and go and come again, the bad junebugs that hang on like grim death will still be here.

 

HENLEY: (laughing) Look, we're all maladjusted little weirdos or we wouldn't be doing this. You know, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and think, 'Why are you doing this? Why don't you just plant a garden or something? I mean, is this important?' But it is important. To me. I've gotta get it out.