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“This record isn't about me, it's about the songs," says Glenn Frey of his luminous new album, After Hours, a collection of 14 classic love songs on which the Eagles singer and guitarist pays homage to artists such as Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, among others. "I’m really just the messenger for the material. When you think about all the millions of Eagles fans out there, if I can just get them to be a little curious about this record, maybe they’ll check it out and have a nice surprise."
Many of the songs on After Hours were played in Frey's house when he was growing up. The record is dedicated to his parents, both of whom are still alive, he happily reports ("God bless 'em"), and are fans of the new disc. “I’ve always loved this music and wanted to do something like this," Frey says, "probably since Linda Ronstadt did those records with Nelson Riddle in the ‘80s. Those albums are incredible – the arrangements are perfect, and Linda’s voice is exquisite. It’s taken me some years to get around to it, but I finally got busy and here we are."
The real impetus to put together After Hours started to take shape when Frey participated in a celebrity golf tournament hosted by Clint Eastwood. The actor asked Frey to perform two songs at a party. "He wanted one of my hits and something from the ‘40s," says Frey. "So I sang a Tony Bennett song, and it sounded great. I got encouragement from other singers and decided to cut some demos with [co-producers] Michael Thompson and Richard Davis. I really liked what I heard, so we decided to do it for real."
Frey says that the song selection for the album was, in the words of another well-known tune, a peaceful, easy one. “We sat around the piano with a great bunch of songs," he says. "Once I found the right key, we’d decide if it would fit with the fabric of the record."
Asked to describe how he felt wrapping his husky tenor around a good portion of material that predates rock, Frey says, “I didn’t feel like a fish out of water; rather, I was a fish in another part of the ocean. With the Eagles, I do what I call ‘guitar singing.’ This is kind of like ‘piano singing.’ My singing is more nuanced. It was a tricky thing for me to be the interpreter instead of the author, but I really enjoyed the process. And I’m thrilled that people are appreciating it.”