Frey open to all standards on 'After Hours'
Posted May 15, 2012
Glenn Frey has wanted to record an album of standards for nearly 30 years — ever since his old friend Linda Ronstadt launched her hugely successful foray into the Great American Songbook.
"The records that Linda made with Nelson Riddle— to me, that's where the bar was set" for such projects, says Frey, referring particularly to 1983's What's New and 1984's Lush Life. "There have been nice records since then, but in my humble estimation, those were the best."
Yet for his new After Hours, Frey — who played with Ronstadt before co-founding the Eagles more than 40 years ago — didn't limit himself to songs of a certain vintage. Tunes by Brian Wilson, Randy Newman and Burt Bacharach are featured alongside such pre-rock classics as (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons, My Buddy and (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66.
"I didn't want to do a period piece," explains Frey, 63, on a visit to Manhattan before flying to South Africa for an Eagles concert. "My idea was to just do a bunch of songs that I really like and that fit my voice."
He had a head start in the selection process. "In the early '90s, I became a partner in a restaurant in Aspen along with Fred Mayerson, a Broadway producer. He wanted to open a place that was a little on the highbrow side, and he told me, 'I'd like you to put together the music.' So I went out and bought everything. The restaurant came and went, but I was left with all these CDs."
They came in handy several years later, when Clint Eastwood asked Frey to perform two songs, including one older standard, at a party for volunteers at a celebrity golf tournament.
"I drove around in my car, listening to these songs I'd used for the restaurant, trying to figure out where my vocal range is," he says. "It turns out it's very close to Tony Bennett's." (The Good Life and I Wanna Be Around, both popularized by Bennett, are included on the deluxe edition of After Hours.)
Though After Hours marks Frey's first solo outing in 20 years, he has recorded and extensively toured with the Eagles, who commemorate the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut album this year.
"That's a number to be proud of, but we're not doing too much," says Frey, who recently played with the band at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. "We're working on a two-DVD documentary, trying to get that finished. But there are a couple of other bands I really admire celebrating their 50th this year: the Beach Boys and the (Rolling) Stones. I think we'll lay low and let them do their thing."
Frey has launched his own tour (with stops Thursday in Englewood, N.J., and Friday in Bethlehem, Pa.) but says his "primary job" these days is playing father to his three children, ages 9 to 21.
"Both Don (Henley) and I started late on the family thing, so now we're right in the middle of it," Frey says. "And that takes precedence. I work when I can, but I try not to miss things."
He would like to eventually record another album of covers. "I've written enough contemporary songs and spilled my soul and given my world view. I don't have anything to prove."
Frey quickly adds, "That's not to say that I don't have any songs left to write. But I'd like to do something else in the vein of After Hours. There are so many great songs — I feel like I've just scratched the surface."
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