After The Thrill Is Gone (1975)

The Eagles

Written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey
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Eagles on stageThe Eagles endlessly meander between three poles.

There is the pure Country spirit that grew out of the nexus formed in Los Angeles by people like Gram Parsons, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Chris Hillman and J.D. Souther. One of The Eagles songs that best typifies it is “Lyin’ Eyes.”

There is the Eagles’ not entirely unpleasant Hollywood School of Schmaltz with songs of theirs leading the lecture series: “New Kid In Town”; “Best Of My Love,” and the often-lampooned “Desperado.”

In one episode of Seinfeld, “Desperado” becomes a running gag:

ELAINE: (speaking of a current love interest) Brett is so generous,
and sensitive. Last night he was moved just listening to a song.

JERRY: What song?

ELAINE: “Desperado”

JERRY: “Desperado”?

ELAINE: Uh huh.

JERRY: And you’re still dating him?

Then there is the Eagles’ Arena Rock side: “Hotel California” and “Life In The Fast Lane,” both of which have hot-buttered Joe Walsh figuring prominently. (The move toward more stadium pleasers precipitated Bernie Leadon’s departure. He was replaced by Walsh.)

Astride those three corners lies “After The Thrill Is Gone,” one of their huge concert favorites. It’s fine SoCal Country mixed with the cinematic, overdramatic lost-love obsession well known to fans, but it is also wildly loud and audacious, featuring one of the best guitar solos of Don Felder’s career.

“After The Thrill Is Gone”

The solo, in fact, borders on Heavy Metal, and engenders an unusual effect in the listener as it crosses back and forth between Country, the soundtrack of a Broadway musical that’s been filmed in a studio, and a tenderly painted sob story. We’re not just hearing a sorrowful tale of decayed amour, we’re listening to the last round-up of a tremendously creative time that was passing, an approach to music that was being lost.

The love story is no less compelling because of the examination of the musical and historical changing of the guard.

The lyrics are ridiculously hooky. Sick. Practically every line is a hook. The title is a hook. (They’re called out in bold type below.) The musical hooks abound, too, while the tune behind the words draws out the social commentary.

Going further, the song is about the tensions in the band, how their varied artistic sensibilities were diverging. It gives what is outwardly a boy-girl love song another level of meaning, and adds depth to the pathos.

The boys of summer were at the very top of their game. “After The Thrill Is Gone” is an indisputably brilliant Rock ballad. To top it all off, the song is tight and concise, clocking in at under four minutes.

Same dances in the same old shoes
Some habits that you just can’t lose
There’s no telling what a man might use
After the thrill is gone

One Of These NightsThe flame rises but it soon descends
Empty pages and a frozen pen
You’re not quite lovers
and you’re not quite friends

After the thrill is gone, oh
After the thrill is gone

What can you do when your dreams come true
And it’s not quite like you planned?
What have you done to be losing the one
You held it so tight in your hand well

Time passes and you must move on
Half the distance takes you twice as long
So you keep on singing
for the sake of the song

After the thrill is gone
After the thrill is gone

You’re afraid you might fall out of fashion
And you’re feeling cold and small
Any kind of love without passion
That ain’t no kind of lovin’ at all, well

Musically, the opening bass slide and part-Folk, part-Country lead guitar seduce us into the drama. The slow march-time instructs the listener to take heed, a serious discussion of loss and lamentation is on deck.

The EaglesWhen the first few stanzas pass, a slight upshift in tempo occurs and middle-period Beatles harmonies arise.

As “After The Thrill” struggles towards the end, it morphs a final time into a pure Country song, Bernie Leadon providing a sweet, echoing pedal steel part that seems to say “farewell” to a woman, to a band, to the great, unconstrained creativity that began in the mid-1950s and closed in the mid-1970s.

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  • After One Of These Nights was released and The Eagles started their tour, one of the founders, Bernie Leadon became so enraged at Glenn Frey that he poured a glass of something on Frey’s head and quit the band.
  • The Eagles are the best-selling American band of all time.
  • They are the fourth best-selling Rock band in the U.S. market of all time after The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Led Zeppelin.
  • One Of These Nights has sold in excess of 4 million copies. It was the #1 album in America for the year 1975.

Also by The Eagles on

  • Hotel California"Hotel California" might well be subtitled “The Rise And Fall Of Los Angeles.” It flaps and flies somewhere very intriguing.