More than 40 years after its release, the Joe Walsh classic “Life’s Been Good” is being embraced by a new generation of music fans thanks to a popular updated version by reggae-rock group Dirty Heads.
The original tune arrived in 1978 on Walsh’s fourth solo album, But Seriously Folks…. Layered with lyrical humor and a catchy chorus, the song offered a wry look at the rock star lifestyle.
“I wanted to make a statement involving satire and humor, kind of poking fun at the incredibly silly lifestyle that someone in my position is faced with,” Walsh explained to the BBC in 1981. “In other words, I do have a really nice house, but I’m on the road so much that when I come home from a tour, it’s really hard to feel that I even live here. It’s not necessarily me, I think it paraphrases anyone in my position, and I think that’s why a lot of people related to it”
Listen to Joe Walsh’s Original Version of ‘Life’s Been Good’
“Life’s Been Good” became the biggest hit of Walsh’s solo career, and has become a mainstay in his solo concerts, as well as performance with the Eagles.
Now, modern music fans – many of whom weren’t even born when Walsh’s released the song – are discovering “Life’s Been Good.”
Listen to Dirty Heads’ Version of ‘Life’s Been Good’
The new rendition is not a straight-ahead cover, but rather a reimagining of the tune with lyrics that reflect Dirty Heads’ beach-loving, Southern California lifestyle. For example, Walsh’s original proclaimed, “My Maserati does one-eighty-five / I lost my license, now I don’t drive,” while the new version says “My black Impala goes 85 / I lost my license, too high when I drive.”
Though the lyrics may be different, the melody and vibe of the tune remain the same.
“[The new version is] just this tongue-in-cheek, kinda ridiculous song about just fuckin’ off and having a bunch of money,” Dirty Heads co-vocalist Jared Watson explained during an appearance on the Tuna on Toast With Stryker podcast. “Not that we’re these giant rock stars like Joe Walsh or anything, but we liked the take on it in that we are probably in a little bit more comfortable spot when it comes to [success]. And we could still make it tongue in cheek.”
Dirty Heads are no strangers to chart success. The reggae-rock band has landed seven previous songs on Billboard’s Alternative chart in the past. Still, “Life’s Been Good” – which, at time of writing, had reached as high as No. 3 – already ranks among their most commercially successful tracks. Not bad for a tune more than four decades old.
“A good song is a good song,” Watson matter of factly declared, noting that social media has helped expose young audiences to classic songs. “Music is timeless and [the age of a song] doesn’t matter.”
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