The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get – Joe Walsh – ABC-Dunhill – 1973
In the 2013 documentary History of the Eagles, the late Glenn Frey describes his bandmate Joe Walsh as “an interesting bunch of guys.” The statement is meant to be comedic relief, there to set up the story of how the wild, unpredictable Joe Walsh — the one famous for hotel room trashing antics — ushered in a new chapter of the Eagles’ late-70s hedonism. But, if you take a closer look, the description rings true for his musical sensibilities, as well.
Few places can it apply more aptly than 1973’s The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get, Walsh’s second solo album in collaboration with his band Barnstorm. Though the album would come to be remembered mostly for its lasting arena rock hit “Rocky Mountain Way,” Walsh explores all of his musical personalities, from the dad rock shredder to the softer, more introspective, singer-songwriter to the psychedelic-influenced long-winded jammer. In this episode, we dig through the varied influences Walsh pulls from, discuss Barnstorm members’ individual contributions, unpack the multitudes Joe Walsh contains, and more.
Listen to The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get: Spotify *
*at this time, The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get is not available in the US on iTunes, nor is it in full on YouTube.
Episode notes and postscript corrections
- Hello, and welcome to a fun and chill and casual summer episode. Think of this as a not-so-guilty-pleasure beach read, but let it also be a lesson in not judging books by their covers!
- Joe Walsh has had quite a career, from the James Gang to Barnstorm to the Eagles, and, wow, quite a life. When we getting the biopic, Hollywood?
- Shoutout to Joe Walsh for embracing different technology on this album, particularly on this track.
- For real, you would never associate an ARP synth with early-70s Cal rock.
- That talk box tho. Here’s a more in-depth explainer of what it is and how Joe Walsh came to use it.
- Isn’t it cool how centuries-old styles can influence modern classic rock? Here’s a little explainer on what a pastoral is, if you’re curious.
- Friendly reminder to hit up our master playlist on Spotify to listen to all these similar and influential tracks we’re dropping.
- Shoutout to Joe Walsh for letting all members of Barnstorm collaborate and write tracks or sing them on this album. It’s not your typical solo venture.
- Check out our further watching links below to see Joe Walsh continue to shred tf out of “Meadows” in this century.
- Friendly reminder that we have a glossary to check out, if you’re unfamiliar with some of the millennial or ‘77MC-native slang we throw around from time to time (from who JB Homie is to what we mean by RihannaMagic.gif)
- You know we like to stand up on our “bands are a sum of their parts” pedestal, and this is no different — all members of Barnstorm had their own unique contributions. Positioning Joe Walsh as a solo star was very much a label-head marketing move (and one that ultimately worked to his benefit).
- Hi, the Eagles love money, bye.
- Legacy is such a weird thing, and because Joe Walsh, and this album, have such eclectic styles (aside from his distinct guitar playing style), how do you trace their lineage to this generation? We have some of our thoughts in our master playlist, but we’re still thinking about it.
- Let us know what you think:
- Does this album have stand-out elements that make it immediately identifiable with Joe Walsh, or does it sound like a pleasant, but “could be anyone” vibe? Is that even necessarily a bad thing?
- Did we miss anyone? Who today shows strong Walsh and/or Barnstorm influence?
- Share all your thoughts with us!
Favorite track(s): Rocky Mountain Way and Dreams (Carly) | Rocky Mountain Way (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Midnight Moodies (Carly) | Wolf (Carrie)
- Joe Walsh — Lead and backing vocals, lead and slide guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, synthesizer
- Kenny Passarelli — Bass guitar, guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals (“Happy Ways”)
- Joe Vitale — Drums, percussion, piano, keyboards, electric piano, flute. backing vocals, lead vocals (“Book Ends”, “Days Gone By”)
- Rocke Grace — Keyboards, backing vocals
- Joe Lala — Percussion
- Venetta Fields — Backing vocals
- Cydie King — Backing vocals
“Meadows” live | 2017
Joe Walsh survived some serious good times as a young rocker (Stephen Colbert interview) | 2017
Joe Walsh’s apology to millennials / “In The City” live
NAMM Q&A | 2016
Joe Walsh Les Paul Set-Up (ed note: ohmygod this is just delightful) | 2015
60 Minutes Australia interview | 2014
Joe Walsh on Letterman talking about an earthquake (ed note: oh my god) | 1987
“Rocky Mountain Way” live with the Eagles | 1977
45 Years Ago: Joe Walsh Barnstorms Through ‘The Smoker You Drink…’ | Ultimate Classic Rock (January 2018)
The Tao of Joe Walsh | The Paris Review (September 2013)
Joe Walsh Discusses His Career, Gear, and New Album | Guitar World (June 2012)
Joe Walsh, Child of the Silent Majority: Ex-James Gangster Tends His Garden (ed note: this is vintage Cameron Crowe goodness) | February 1975