Every Form of Refuge Has Its Price

These haunting lines from the song, “Lyin’ Eyes,” were written and recorded by the Eagle’s in 1975. Don Henley and Glenn Frey say they were at a LA restaurant, Dan Tana’s, when they witnessed a meeting between a man and a woman and made up a scenario of secret love. Putting words to their facial expressions and mannerisms, the song was born.

It was the Eagles second recorded song that tells the story of a young girl who has made decisions that compromised her happiness. Instead of following her heart, she’s married to someone who doesn’t understand or love her. All this for comfort. In her case, her refuge is exacting a steep price.

An internet search shows the wide reaching and universal effect of these lines with links to a multitude of web sites. Yahoo Answers has hundreds of queries asking what these lines mean. The contribution voted as the best says it means “there is no free lunch”. Another says the song creates an allegory for living. Some thought it can apply to the political process. Or it discusses the up and down process of coming to terms with life’s huge questions. Finally, a fan fiction website includes these lines in a Harry Potter story. And on it goes.

This type of creative expression is what all writers will attest to. Stories are everywhere, often in the most mundane or unexpected of places. And who knows what the end result will be. Bob Dylan, long silent on the creative process, in a rare interview said:

“I don’t know how I got to write those songs. Those early songs were almost magically written…. Try to sit down and write something like that. There’s a magic to that, and it’s not Siegfried and Roy kind of magic, you know? It’s a different kind of a penetrating magic. And, you know, I did it. I did it at one time.”

Dylan seems puzzled by the whole process. In Chronicles (Simon and Schuster, 2004) , he further says:

“I can’t say when it occurred to me to write my own songs. I couldn’t have come up with anything comparable or halfway close to the folk song lyrics I was singing to define the way I felt about the world. I guess it happens to you by degrees. You just don’t wake up one day and decide that you need to write songs…..Opportunities may come along for you to convert something — something that exists into something that didn’t yet. That might be the beginning of it. Sometimes you just want to do things your way, want to see for yourself what lies behind the misty curtain. It’s not like you see songs approaching and invite them in.”

Such profound concepts. Seeing them approaching and inviting them in. Seeing what lies behind the misty curtain. Even that is poetic.  Whatever the process was for Dylan, it’s worked since he’s being studied in college level poetry classes.

Coming from the other end, music can be the inspiration. What story is conjured up when carrying a line of poetry to its unpredictable conclusion? This has little to do with the actual words of a certain Eagles song. Instead, this has become a treatise on the creative process itself.



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