Thursday CarTunes: Joe Walsh, Life's Been Good, and the Maserati Bora

By Author: Harvey Briggs, Date: Aug 03, 2017
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The Song
The life of a rock star has often been chronicled in song. Rarely, however, has it been captured so honestly and irreverently as Joe Walsh did in his biggest hit, Life’s Been Good. Originally released as an 8-minute long anthem on his solo album, “But Seriously, Folks…” It was chopped down to four and a half minutes for the single to satisfy the need for radio airplay. The song resonated with listeners reaching the highest position for any Joe Walsh solo effort, topping out at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

An amalgam of the life of many rock stars of his era, including the likes of Keith Moon, The Beatles, and Mick Jagger it includes one great couplet after another:

I have a mansion but forget the price
Ain’t never been there, they tell me it’s nice

I have a limo, ride in the back
I lock the doors in case I’m attacked

It’s tough to handle this fortune and fame
Everybody’s so different, I haven’t changed

and of course the line that inspired this post…
My Maseratti does one-eighty-five
I lost my license, now I don’t drive

The Artist
Joe Walsh is one of the more interesting characters in rock history, and one of the few who has been able to maintain a successful solo career while playing with one of the most popular bands of all time, The Eagles. He began his career in the mid ’60s after leaving Kent State, playing first with an Ohio-based garage band, The Measles before joining The James Gang. The big break in his career came when the band went on tour with The Who. In 1971 the band broke up and Walsh moved to Colorado, starting a new group called Barnstorm.

While most of the Barnstorm albums are credited as Walsh solo projects, they were a working band playing shows and recording three albums, the last of which was “The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get” and included one of Walsh’s signature guitar tunes Rocky Mountain Way

Most famous for his work in The Eagles, Walsh was a key member during the band’s most popular period from 1975 to 1980. His duelling guitar solo with Don Felder on the song Hotel California, was voted by the readers of Guitar magazine as the one of the best of all time.

Walsh continues to perform as a solo artist and with The Eagles. He has also made guest appearances at shows and on the recordings of artists that include Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Steve Winwood, Richard Marx, and many more. This body of work makes the last stanza of Life’s Been Good even more humorous.

They say I’m lazy but it takes all my time
(Everybody say oh yeah, oh yeah)
I keep on goin’ guess I’ll never know why
Life’s been good to me so far

The Car
In 1978 there two Maseratis that could have served for the subject of the song, the Bora and Khamsin. It appears, however, that Mr. Walsh was either exaggerating or had his car modified, because neither was capable of a top speed of 185. Maserati claimed at the time that the top speed for both 4.9L V8 powered coupes was a mere 170 in European trim. And with five horsepower less in American trim, that number was just 155 mph here.

The Bora, a mid-engined, two-seat supercar, was the more sporting of the two. It made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971 and the company delivered the first production cars later that year. With the larger of its two V8 engines (a 4.7L and 4.9L engine was available in Europe), the Bora made 320 horsepower at 6,000 RPM thanks to quad cams, four two-barrel Weber carbs, and hemi combustion chambers. Power was put to the rear wheels via a ZF five-speed manual transmission. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Bora stood just 45 inches high and was a logical extension of the sleek design language established by Ghia in the 1967 Ghibli. The Bora is a bargain today compared to other Italian Supercars and fine examples can be had for well under $200,000. This 1975 model with just 39,000 miles on the odometer sold for $159,000 at the RM Sotheby’s Arizona auction this January.

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Harvey Briggs

Harvey Briggs is the Founder, Editor, and Publisher of Rides & Drives. He has also written for Car and Driver, Winding Road, and the luxury lifestyle blog, Pursuitist.com. His passions run from fast cars, small planes, boats and motorcycles to music, travel, and sports. When he's not on the road testing the latest cars, he been known to turn up on stage playing rock and blues guitar at clubs around his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Follow Harvey's adventures on Instagram and Twitter @harvey_drives and find him on Facebook. Though keeping up could be a problem. As Harvey says, "If I don't slow down, time can't catch me."

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