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Welcome to Hotel Music Waves where we met Don Felder, the guitarist of the mythical Eagles who offers us a journey into the wonderful world of rock'n' roll. To your guitars!
ADRIANSTORK - 17.05.2019 - 7 picture(s) - (0) comment(s)
Welcome to Hotel Music Waves where we met Don Felder, the guitarist of the mythical Eagles. With his new album'American Rock'n' Roll, Don offers us a passport to the wonderful world of rock'n' roll. To your guitars!

We like to start our interviews with this traditional question: what is the question you have been asked too often?

What is the meaning of'Hotel California'? Don't ever ask me that. I thought I would print the explanation on small cards and hand them out when I was asked this question.

With the Eagles, you are part of the rock legend, you have sold millions of records, you have co-written albums and composed the hit "Hotel California"... Don't worry, we won't ask you to do an exegesis. How could you live so successfully?

It has nothing to do with success, the platinum albums on your wall, fate. No, for me it's being able to compose the music that makes me happy.

Is this still the case today?

Without a doubt, and this has been the case since I was seventeen years old!

When you start recording new songs, do you feel extra pressure about everything you've accomplished in your career?

When we played'Hotel California' for the first time, we never thought we would have a big hit. When it happened, everything imploded around us. When we had to go back to the studio afterwards, it was impossible to record something because of the pressure. We had set the bar too high so high that we could no longer even reach it. Every time we recorded an album, we tried to make a better album, more tense, more meticulous, with more elaborate lyrics, better vocal lines, better guitar parts. After Hotel California, Glenn Frey discovered that we had all contracted a strange disease. In the studio, things were not going well, the writing was no longer good, we were afraid to sing. And I thought that wasn't the right way to go. We had to make the albums we wanted to hear as we did in our early days. We were not working in fear at that time but in constant excitement. And whether it's with the Eagles or solo on my own albums, that's the main thing for me.

Don't forget to have fun....

If you look at young people on an instrument, you see joy in their eyes. It amuses them.

Did you forget to have fun during your career?

Yes, it's easy to forget to have fun when you're intoxicated by drugs, when you're stuck by the star system that has nothing to do with music. There is a song in this album called "Charmed". If you read the lyrics, you'll discover that you can have beautiful women, a private jet, a beautiful house in Beverly Hills, glory. But none of that matters, if there is no passion in your music, if there is no more flame in what you do, then the charm is broken. This is the main theme of American Rock'n' Roll.

You wrote a book "Heaven And Hell My Life In The Eagles 1974-2001", which was a best-seller. Doesn't everything you touch turn into gold?

(laughs) Unfortunately not! I was surprised at the book's success. During my school years in Florida, I failed my English exams with a sharp F (editor's note: equivalent to 0, eliminatory grade). While all my classmates were having fun at the pool or tanning on the beach, I was stuck in the classroom, without air conditioning and with the same teacher who gave me an F. To move on to the next floor, I did the minimum by getting a C. In 2001, I left the Eagles, divorced after 29 years of marriage. My family life had just ended, my musical career seemed to have come to a conclusion and I had to try to understand how I got there, when it went wrong. 

How did you do it, because you painted a rather sincere and introspective portrait of your life?

I meditated every day for 30 minutes. The first thing as soon as I wake up. Think of a specific moment in my life. Where do I come from? How did I start making music? The paths I have taken to reach this moment. My mistakes. The good aspects, the bad ones, the ugly ones etc. Drugs. The alcohol. Everything. It allowed me to understand where I came from and how I could get back on track. When I did these meditations, I took notes for myself. Leaves started piling up on my desk. The woman who was sharing my life at that time started reading them and one day she told me that it could make a good book. I told him that it was out of the question to make a book out of it, I had got an F in English, remember!  She introduced me to Michael Ovitz, one of Hollywood's most powerful agents, who works with Leonardo Di Caprio, produces films and books. I told him about my notes. He said, "Tomorrow you have an appointment with the head of my literary department. The following week, when I didn't have any books, I received five offers! I was confused (laughs). 

But could someone help you write it?

I changed my method: instead of writing, I registered. It was easier then for someone to modify them by transcribing them. Wendy Holden came to help me with the timeline. She had to find out where I was at that moment in my life. Because sometimes I have memory gaps about what I did on that day in 1974 or 1976, where I played and with whom. 

Concerning your new album, if we look at the cover, we can see the mythical Gibson with a double sleeve that evokes'Hotel California'. Can we think you wanted to send a message?

No. To the eyes and ears of the general public, the memory of American rock'n' roll is through a guitar. Five years ago, I did a concert with Steve Miller in New York. At the end of my concert, I had my Gibson brought up. When people saw my guitar, they all screamed. They recognized her!

So the audience didn't recognize you but recognized your guitar. Didn't you get jealous of your guitar?

(laughs) The audience has made the association with this guitar. This guitar has a particular history as a symbol of rock'n' roll. Recently at the Metropolitan in New York, you can see all the famous rock'n' roll guitars. It goes from Chuck Berry to Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page... and this one! I've had Grammys, gold records, but for me, the ultimate level is to end up in a museum with this guitar. Thousands of objects and artifacts from ancient civilizations are preserved there. 

And now your guitar! You are a legend and not just a rock legend, you are part of history.

Strangely enough this section opened when my new album was released. I feel like it's a magical coincidence. The original guitar has been at the Hall Of Fame since 1998. They picked it up at the Met. I have 15 others I play with during my concerts.

This album is quite varied. We have rock like'Rock You' played with Joe Satriani, funk with'Hearts On Fire', blues with'Limelight' and even flamenco with'Little Latin Lover'. Do you consider this album to be the most representative of your influences?

Not all of them. I'm quite inspired by country, bluegrass, jazz...

Why don't they find themselves on the album?

There wasn't enough space! I should have made a double album. (laughs).

You end the album with three successive ballads. You weren't afraid to destabilize the audience, especially since the album contains a total of 4 ballads?

I'm not a ballad singer. But on this album, I needed to express some feelings. For example, talking about a break-up with my previous partner after 16 years of living together and hoping to find love again. That's all we want when it happens to us. This does not always happen, but it is linked to this hope. I believe in it.

The eponymous song is a tribute to rock legends. We really like'She Doesn't Get It' which sometimes reminds us of Toto and the finale of'You Are My World'. What is your favorite song?

"Falling In Love Again. I really like this introduction to the acoustic guitar. Little by little, we are led to this powerful guitar solo that transmits all the passion I wanted to put into it. I hope you could feel it.

There are a lot of guests on this album: Peter Frampton, Slash, Sammy Hagar, Mike Fletwood... But are there any musicians you'd like to play with?

There are thousands of them. I had a great time making this album. This allowed me to find a lot of spontaneity to play with these guitarists I loved. I would like to do it again but I don't know if I would do this type of album again with a plethora of guests. On my previous album, I play all the guitars, except for one song where Steve Lukather came to participate. Playing alone is not the same as playing with guests. Enthusiasm, energy and passion are totally different.

Falling In Love Again' is the closest to the Eagles sound and we can recognize your touch, this way of looking for the right note. In your opinion, should a solo be fundamentally melodic as some guitar heroes often forget?

I always try to play memorable and melodic guitar solos. I like to be able to play things that can be recognized and that find their place in the progression of chords. Even if it is only a handful of notes, they must reflect the feeling expressed in the song. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "If you want to do something memorable, use a simple melody. On some solos, such as'Hotel California', I try not to play too many notes for it to be easy to remember.

Do you have any regrets? Unfortunately Glenn Frey has left us, but is a reconciliation with Don Henley possible?

I never said never. The ball is in Don's court, ask Don!

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American Rock 'n' Roll (2019)
The sincere and endearing album of the "Hotel California" composer. Read all reviews regarding DON FELDER
DON FELDER: American Rock 'n' Roll
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