Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wasted Time by The Eagles

“All relationships ends.”

We have this idea in our society that the perfect relationship starts in your twenties and lasts until you are on your deathbed. Then magically you and your partner die at the exactly same time and no one is left alone to mourn the other person.

This idealized version of a relationship places more value on the length and the way the relationship ends than on the relationship itself. Saying a relationship that lasts a month is not being significant and having a relationship end in betrayal makes us seems like it’s all just wasted time.

Eagles Wasted Time by alfa_blond

For Christmas I got a collection of the Eagles’ studio albums. I know this band from their reunion concert Hell Freezes Over, and I’ve enjoyed their music ever since. I was excited to listen to Hotel California and hear some of my favorite songs in the context of one of the greatest albums in the history of rock music.

While many people (including myself) mock the title track as being a party killer and putting crying babies to sleep (which I swear works for Ollie), “Hotel California” is a beautiful and haunting song. However, the song that really stuck out to me as being truly remarkable was “Wasted Time.”

Like Henley’s later solo song “Heart Of The Matter,” (which I wrote about in this previous post), “Wasted Time,” in an insightful and powerful song that illuminates truths about relationships and the complexities of love.

The song begins with Henley comforting a friend who has recently gone through a breakup. He sings  gently “you can’t believe it’s happening again . . . and it looks like the end.” Like a patient friend Henley works to validate his friend's feelings before helping her feel better. The way that Henley sings “you’re afraid it’s all been wasted time” hints at an understanding that he later reveals.

The way this friend’s relationship ended is one of most painful. It’s not that she was betrayed. In some ways she did everything right and it didn’t work out. She simply “loved the boy too well.” Henley shows off the subtle and effortless acrobatics of his voice with line, gently soaring up and resting on the word “well.” As he continues, he reveals that he too is trying to stop worrying if it’s all been wasted time.

Henley then flips around the advice she gave to him “sometimes to keep it together, we got to leave it alone.” By reflecting back her advice at her, he reminds her of her own inner strength. This leads to the resolution “maybe someday we will find, that it wasn’t really wasted time.” While the song starts with lonely piano octaves, it ends with a sweeping rush of strings and Henley’s voice rising like a sunset.

It can't all be wasted time.  As painful as things may feel and as bleak as the prospects are in the future you can't forget at the the beginning of the relationship there was a spark or some magical shared experience that brought you together.  You can let the way the relationship ends invalidate that moment and all the good times that happened later or you can choose not to.  Yes, there's a time for us all when it feels like wasted time, but it's up to ourselves to move past that and see the value beyond the end. 

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