When Joe Walsh and Lita Ford Teamed Up for a ‘RoboCop’ Theme Song
Joe Walsh was living in the fast lane in 1994, packing stadiums on the Eagles' reunion tour and writing songs for the short-lived RoboCop television series.
The guitarist made reparations with his old bandmates — Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Don Felder and Timothy B. Schmit — and embarked on a gargantuan reunion tour from 1994-96, which also spawned four new tunes that appeared on the accompanying Hell Freezes Over live album. Around the same time, Walsh teamed up with former Runaways guitarist and glam-metal star Lita Ford to write “Future to This Life,” the theme song for the RoboCop TV series.
The Canadian television show followed three feature films in the cyberpunk franchise, omitting the gratuitous violence of 1987's RoboCop and 1990's RoboCop 2 in favor of a more kid-friendly tone, similar to 1993's RoboCop 3.
"Future to This Life" has an accordingly optimistic tone. The mid-tempo pop-rock number is built on lightly chugging guitars and fat piano chords, ornamented with clanging, industrial sound effects that give the impression of an engineer toiling in his laboratory to create RoboCop's titular cyborg hero. Walsh and Ford trade vaguely uplifting platitudes, such as "In the heart of the darkness, a light still burns" and "There's a future to this life, and it burns in the night."
Although a video for "Future to This Life" was never released, clips from the shoot can be found online. In his memoir, Believing a Man Can Fly, director Colin Chilvers explained the premise: "The video intercut footage from the series with shots of Joe and Lita performing on a futuristic set. We used a lot of smoke and fire effects to create a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, which set the stage for RoboCop himself to appear in the video with Joe and Lita.
"The producers of the series lent us the suit, and we had a stuntman play the part," Chilvers added. "That thing was remarkably heavy and clunky, making it nearly impossible for the performer inside to move. It was no wonder why they made the character move so slowly and mechanically in the show.”
Listen to Joe Walsh and Lita Ford's 'A Future to This Life'
Walsh wrote two other songs for the RoboCop TV show soundtrack: "Fire and Brimstone" and "Guilty of the Crime," the latter of which appeared on Eagles' 2007 album, Long Road Out of Eden. History has revealed which of Walsh's mid-'90s endeavors was more successful: The RoboCop series was canned after one season, while the Eagles' reunion trek became one of the most lucrative concert tours in history. The band continues to fill arenas.
Even at the time, Walsh seemed relatively unenthused about his work on the RoboCop soundtrack. In a July 1994 interview with the Toronto Star, the guitarist was tight-lipped about the project, telling journalist Peter Howell, "I like the song. I like things that nobody would think of or put together."
Then again, Walsh didn't have much to say about any of his work that day. When prompted about the Eagles reunion, the guitarist dropped the following bombshell on Howell: "I'm very happy."