On the eve of this week’s release of “Long Road Out of Eden,” the Eagles’ first studio CD in 28 years, Don Henley was in London with his bandmates. The 60-year-old spoke in a phone interview about the classic sound of “Eden,” the band’s enduring country connection and the green packaging that eventually led them to choosing Wal-Mart as the album’s brick-and-mortar retailer.
Let’s talk about the music, especially the quintessential Eagles sound.
We’ve made enough albums now that we know how to produce. We used a lot of vintage instruments, and this time we used exotic instruments from other countries, like the duduk from Afghanistan and a stringed instrument from India, the sarangi. We wanted a nice mix of songs on this album. The songwriting has matured a great deal and these songs are more fully realized than some of our previous songs.
What about the band’s country connection, from “How Long” being worked at country radio to your influence on today’s country artists?
We’re a hybrid. We’re country, but we’re also this other thing. A lot of country music that you hear today sounds very much like what we were doing in the `70s, and that’s flattering. ... I’m a country boy, from deep East Texas. I’m from Linden. Country is a part of my upbringing. We feel comfortable in country.
Why did it take 28 years to make another studio record?
We broke up for 14 years starting in 1980, got back together in `94. We’ve been touring all over the world, and this band has never been good at writing and recording while on tour. We’ve had some personnel problems. There’s been some litigation that I can’t go into detail about. It took us a while to learn how to work together again in the studio.
Let’s talk about the environmentally sound packaging made out of environmentally friendly paper.
We contacted the Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit organization that is a watchdog group that promotes sustainable forestry and recycled paper products. We told them what we were going to do and wanted to do and that qualified us for their stamp of approval.
Why use Wal-Mart as the only U.S. retailer selling the CD?
We didn’t want to sign with a major label again. We’ve had trouble with the major labels our entire career. Wal-Mart made us a very good offer. We looked very carefully at their new green program and we were impressed. A lot of companies are figuring out that being green increases their net profits over time.