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‘The bright lights have faded to blue’

The Eagles land in Colorado for Salazar

By Leigh E. Rich

Sure, Pete Coors’ name may grace a rock venue or two, but he can’t keep the rock stars from singing Salazar’s praises.

Despite a marquee that beamed “Coors Light welcomes Ken Salazar benefit” at Tuesday’s fund-raiser at the Fillmore, Salazar pressman Cody Wertz merely smiled when asked whether this means the Republican Coors endorses Colorado’s attorney general—and his Democratic opponent—for U.S. Senate.

Of course, the mixing of political rivals, at least in name, was merely an ironic consequence of corporate sponsorship in the music industry world.

When Kerry and Edwards kicked off their campaign from the same location in July—after outdoor plans on the Fitzsimons campus were rained out—the Blue Team covered up the “Coors Light welcomes” portion of the Fillmore billboard.

But the Salazar camp took it all in stride. Even Salazar himself, shaking hands with concertgoers before the rockers took the stage, said he hadn’t noticed.

And he didn’t seem to care.

After all, the proceeds from Tuesday’s concert are earmarked for Salazar’s coffers.

With the hall nearly two-thirds full, the Fillmore crowd paid $100 for general admission and $1,000 for reserved seating to see headliners Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Timothy B. Schmit—better known as the Eagles, minus Joe Walsh—and openers Leo Kottke and Big Head Todd and the Monsters.

Whether the audience came to support Salazar or to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers in the intimate Fillmore setting, it seemed only the marquee and the bluish glow emanating from the chandeliers spoke to the political aspects of the event. Only a handful of concertgoers wore buttons or sported campaign T-shirts promoting Salazar for Senate or Kerry and Edwards in 2004.

One man, waiting in the line that reached all the way to 16th Street before the doors opened, held a sign reading, “The eagle won’t fly on two right wings.” His only other political statement was a worn Kucinich sticker on his lapel.

But the majority of the 30-something and older attendees were dressed as if it were casual Friday at the office.

Even Salazar didn’t waste time on the stump. Before introducing Henley, the attorney general waved to the crowd rock-star style.

“Hello, Colorado! Thank you, Colorado!” he shouted in good spirits, asking “each and every one of you to be a part of our team” and cryptically promising “Colorado will win again” on Nov. 2.

Without further ado, he advised the crowd to “get on your feet for Don Henley,” whom he described as “one of our heroes for the last 30 years.”

And none of the musicians spoke directly to the Salazar effort.

Henley dedicated his first song, “Dirty Laundry,” to media mogul Rupert Murdoch, changed a few of the lyrics in “The End of the Innocence” for fleeting potshots at Bush and Cheney, and surprised the crowd with a curveball rendition of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”

He spent most of his time on the pulpit reminiscing about the Sunset Grill, “a place in L.A. where I used to hang out in the 1980s” that was owned by “a small, independent businessman” from Vienna named Joe Frolich.

“We’re all immigrants if you go back far enough,” Henley told the Colorado crowd before waxing poetic about the “pride and dignity” with which Frolich used to serve up cheeseburgers.

“It was a life-changing experience.”

Finally inviting his fellow Eagles to the stage, Henley stepped from the spotlight to take up the drums as Frey launched into “Take It to the Limit”—slipping in a subtle political slam about how “you can spend all your time raising budgets.”

Even concert openers stayed clear of political statements. Todd Park Mohr, doing a Bob Dylan-style guitar and harmonica solo before the Monsters joined him, limited his commentary.

“We very much appreciate the opportunity to be here and hopefully we’ll get the job done,” he said.

And guitar-great Kottke kept his set focused on his music, which included his signature ramblin’ sound that could very well double as a campaign soundtrack for Salazar touring Colorado in his green pickup.

Toward the end of the evening, as the Eagles began one of three encores with “Hotel California,” one woman unsuccessfully attempted to rouse the crowd, shouting “USA! USA!”

But no one heeded her patriotic battle cry, and the benefit closed without much said about Nov. 2.

Perhaps Frey’s country-rocker “Take It Easy” best summed up the benefit’s political message and Salazar’s run for the Senate: “We may lose and we may win.”

Whether the bright lights of this election will fade to blue continues to be anybody’s guess.

Rich, L. E. (2004, October 1). ‘The bright lights have faded to blue’: The Eagles land in Colorado for Salazar. The Colorado Statesman.

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