35 Years Ago: Joe Walsh Releases ‘… But Seriously Folks’
Joe Walsh’s fourth release ‘… But Seriously Folks,’ issued 35 years ago in May of 1978, is best known for producing his iconic single ‘Life’s Been Good.’ That’s just the most obvious starting point, however, on a record that proved to be one of Walsh’s most durable classics.
Comparisons with the Eagles came early and often — and not just because this was the first stand-alone Walsh project issued after he joined them prior to 1976’s ‘Hotel California.’ All four of the other his bandmates appeared on ‘… But Seriously Folks,’ though ultimately they’re only footnotes on an album that strikes a more considered balance of introspection and biting wit, of smart balladry and tough rockers, than the reconstituted Eagles’ deflating ’70s finale ‘The Long Run’ from 1979. Walsh moves with cunning and verve through the expected joys of country rockers like ‘Second Hand Store’ and the surprising reggae riddums of ‘Over and Over,’ from the incisive nostalgia of ‘Indian Summer’ to the fully realized instrumental wit of ‘Theme from Boat Weirdos.’
Even casual fans will notice signature elements of the Eagles sound throughout, from the soaring background vocals of Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit on ‘Tomorrow’ to Don Felder’s pedal steel on ‘Second Hand Store.’ Walsh and Felder then reanimate the twin-guitar entanglements of ‘Hotel California’ on ‘At the Station.’ But it remains, at its core, Walsh’s record, dominated not by the Eagles but by Walsh’s vision. Don’t let the winks and nudges fool you. As with Walsh’s other must-buy solo album ‘The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get,’ he’s in complete command of his muse, something that becomes utterly clear on the hilarious album closer ‘Life’s Been Good.’
A comic depiction of the quote-unquote hardships of rock stardom, ‘Life’s Been Good’ appeared on ‘… But Seriously Folks’ not in the zippy four-minute format that went to No. 12 but as an extended anthem of double that length. Along the way, it earned fame separate from the Billboard charts, when Walsh ran for president in 1980 as a lark. He suggested, tongue firmly in cheek, that ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ be replaced with ‘Life’s Been Good.’ That didn’t happen. But it certainly became Walsh’s personal good-time anthem — and a staple of his concerts, with and without the Eagles, even today.
Understandably, many buy ‘… But Seriously Folks’ simply to to relive that moment in time. But there’s an album’s worth of Walsh to enjoy here.