Q&A: Don Henley of the Eagles

The band hasn’t gotten any cheaper -- tickets top out in the $150-$230 range for dates on its October U.S. tour -- but most Eagles fanatics consider it a worthy investment to witness a couple of hours of rock history.

After all, the remaining core of Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh are all in their early 60s, so while retirement isn’t imminent, it’s an obvious consideration. Besides, even they have to tire of hearing “Hotel California” several dozen times a year.

The band has maintained a road presence since that mid-1990s return, but its 2007 album “Long Road Out of Eden” -- the first Eagles album of all-new material since 1979 -- rejuvenated the quartet to the point of embarking on a tour that has lasted nearly three years.

On Oct. 15 the group performs at Piedmont Park for the Green Concert, the annual benefit for the 189-acre park's conservancy.

Head Eagle Henley no longer does phone interviews -- he says he prefers to respond to questions on his own time and can be more articulate answering e-mailed queries. He did so for the AJC.

Q. Did your dedication to environmental causes influence the decision to play this show?

A. I’m glad that the concert is helping a local, “green” cause, but Atlanta is always on our tour schedule. It’s one of our strongest fan bases. We’d be playing there, no matter what.

Q. Are you planning anything special for the show, such as talking more about the Walden Woods Project, to emphasize the reason for this concert?

A. I don’t think that the fans want to hear any speeches from us. This is the 20th anniversary of the Walden Woods Project and I’d love to tell people what we’ve accomplished, but this concert is for a local cause, and so I think we’ll be satisfied just to be a part of that. If folks want to know more about the Walden Woods Project, all they have to do is go to www.walden.org .

Q. What’s the last thing you do before you go onstage? Does the band have an NFL-style group pow-wow?

A. Each one of us has his own personal routine to get ready for the show. We don’t have a group ritual. Sports teams have a pregame “pump-up” because they’re trying to crush an opponent. We don’t have an opponent. We just have thousands of allies. The last thing I do before going onstage is check to make sure my in-ear monitor is working.

Q. What prompted you to do a country album?

A. The answer is very simple: I grew up in the country. I’ve listened to and played country music all my life. I’m about 70 percent done with the album. I don’t expect to finish it until next year because the Eagles tour continues through October in the U.S. and then moves to Australia in December.

Q. You also have an R&B album in the works ... has it been difficult working on both simultaneously? Will both contain covers?

A. Country wasn’t the only thing I listened to as a kid. I grew up in the northeast corner of [Texas], near the Arkansas and Louisiana borders. That geography exposed me to lots of different types of music. When atmospheric conditions were just right, I was able to tune in some of the big 50,000-watt AM radio stations, including WLAC in Nashville, WDIA in Memphis and WNOE in New Orleans.

So I heard a lot of great ethnic, regional music via those stations; a lot of R&B and early forms of what eventually became soul music. Texans were not my only musical heroes. Ray Charles and Otis Redding, both native Georgians, had a profound effect on me.

I enjoy working on two projects at once because one informs the other. Country and R&B share some basic elements. There will be original material and some covers on both recordings.

Q. The Eagles' website notes there are no official Don Henley Twitter feeds or Facebook pages. Why don't you communicate via social media?

A. I think “social media” is a complete waste of time. It’s just another distraction in an age that already has far too many distractions. It’s also a privacy risk, especially for vulnerable young people who don’t take the time to read the fine print and take the necessary precautions.

There have been numerous negative articles about Facebook and some of the deceptions it has perpetrated. We put that message on the Eagles website because there have been instances of people putting up phony Facebook pages and Twitter feeds in my name and I want the fans to know that it’s not me. That’s another problem with many of these social sites. It’s also a problem with YouTube. They don’t screen or vet anything in terms of origin, ownership, copyright, etc. The Internet is a wonderful thing, but it has its drawbacks, too.

Q. With your kids getting older, do you have a timetable for how much longer you see yourself out on the road?

A. I don’t have a definite timetable for retirement from touring. It could come to an abrupt halt in the next two or three years, but the more likely scenario is that we’ll start reducing the number of shows and just sort of taper down. It doesn’t look good when an artist says, “That’s it -- I’m done forever,” and then a couple of years go by and there’s a comeback, followed by another retirement, followed by another comeback and so on, and so on. Never say “never.”

Concert preview

The Eagles. 8 p.m. Oct. 15. $69.50 and $277.60 (VIP with reception area). Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000. www.ticketmaster.com . All tickets are general admission. Approved low-back stadium chairs are permitted. No on-site parking.

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