His lead guitar will forever grace some of rock's most perennial classics but Don Felder's proverbial life in the fast lane came to a screeching halt in 2001 with his contentious exit from the Eagles and, later, the end of his near-30-year marriage. "There’s no therapist you can turn to that can repair that damage," Felder says of these misfortunes, which admittedly left him shell-shocked and searching for solace. "You have to take a hard look at it yourself—who you were, what happened to you, how you reacted, the feelings that go along with it. And how do you resolve all of that before you go forward and continue to carry all of that baggage with you?"
Such introspection ultimately led Felder to pen his autobiography, 2008's Heaven and Hell, and his first solo album in nearly three decades, Road to Forever, which was released last month on Rocket Science Records. Featuring such musical comrades as Crosby, Stills, and Nash as well as Styx's Tommy Shaw, the album not only reflects Felder's inner journey but also the peace of mind he's gained from the experience. "You have to find a way to take that and turn it into something positive or else you’ll spend the rest of your days unhappy," he insists. "And I refuse to let myself go through life that way. That’s the feeling I tried to get across with this music and these songs."
In writing these songs were there any moments when you surprised yourself with what you revealed?
Well, I think the whole process was a surprise to me. All of the images that I had adopted over the years—being a husband, a family man, a rock star in a band—all that was just stripped away from me. I had to go through a process of understanding how that happened. Going through such a debilitating period of my life, it was just a very tough blow to me. I had to find a way to understand that, emotionally resolve it, release those feelings, and go forward in life. And music is what I’ve turned to primarily to express myself in the past. So my salvation was to hang all those emotions and all those feelings in those songs.
Despite all the turbulence and tension that informed this album, it reflects an unmistakable sense of serenity.
It’s interesting you say that. A lot of the songs that are on that record came out of the experience of me writing my book. When I was writing my book I really had to take a hard look back at every part of my life that had led up to that, including the wonderful times and the tragic times. I’ve had a studio in my home. And as I would write the text for the book and have these feelings and emotions about things that had happened, I’d stop writing the text and I’d go in the studio with that emotion hanging very close to my heart and consciousness and I’d try to write music or lyrics about that feeling. And so to me it was kind of a dual, cathartic process that I went through in writing my life’s experiences and then writing these songs in hopes that people who have similar experiences—the loss of love, loss of family, tragedy strikes them—find some way to deal with those feelings, come through the other side, and be positive and optimistic about it.