Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and Glen Frey were perhaps the most successful in their solo endeavors. In retrospect, utilizing the term “solo career,” may be a bit unfair since Henley, Walsh and Frey spent more time touring and releasing their own individual records than they spent recording Eagles’ albums. However, most fans would agree that some of their greatest work was written and performed together as members of the Eagles. Here are ten reasons why fans would make that argument.
# 10 -‘Pretty Maids All In A Row’ (‘Hotel California’ / 1976)
The most common gripe amongst musical critics in regard to the Eagles is their ability
to dash between incredibly intricate rock music and incredibly mundane
commercialism. (Which is why you won’t see their atrocious cut of Tom Waits’ ‘Ol’ 55’
anywhere on this list.) For every commercially viable rock song the outfit produced,
however, they had half a dozen remarkable deep cuts. ‘Pretty Maids All In A Row’ is
one of them. It’s the most breathtaking song on ‘Hotel California,’ transcending the
Eagles’ typical musical musings for something far more epic and astoundingly creative.
# 9 – ‘The Long Run’ (‘The Long Run’ / 1979)
Despite producing three of the most successful Eagles Songs of the band’s career, The Long Run record is widely considered the weakest Eagles offering. At times, it absolutely falls victim to those aforementioned commercialist tropes. The title track, however, is just so wonderfully carefree. The album was basically a resolute flag in the ground after a decade of dominating the industry. “We’ve made it. Now, let’s make some funky music.”
# 8 -‘Hotel California’ (‘Hotel California’ / 1976)
You’d be mad not to include ‘Hotel California’ on a ‘best-of’ Eagles listing. Love it or hate
it, (and there’s plenty of people in both camps) it was a rock and roll game changer.
The suave epic combines everything legendary about the Eagles – folksy, poetic lyrics,
sly Californian influence, and searing rock and roll. The album also saved the band.
The induction of Joe Walsh re-energized their lineup, completing their evolution into a
rock band. His soloing on the iconic titular song will never be matched. It is, quite
frankly, the epitome of American rock in the 1970s.
# 7 -‘Teenage Jail’ (‘The Long Run’ / 1979)
Another deep track, ‘Teenage Jail,’ makes the latter half of The Long Run a must-listen.
There isn’t a song in rock and roll quite like ‘Teenage Jail.’ It’s so dark and brooding. It
so perfectly combines the Eagles’ style with bluesy Americana roots themes. The
riffing, vocal sections, and thunderously sparse percussion are so darn ‘cool.’ If the
Eagles were anything, after all, they were cool . ‘Teenage Jail’ proves how cool they
were in the final days of their 70s reign.
# 6 – Desperado (‘Desperado’ / 1973)
Before Joe Walsh, ‘Hotel California,’ or the slick pastures of ‘Teenage Jail,’ the Eagles
were a soft, folksy endeavor enamored with cowboy culture. 1973’s ‘Desperado’ is their
landmark pursuit in that vein, and the title track will never not be heart wrenching.
Sure, it’s a bit like ‘Don’t Stop Believing;’ it’s become a punchline, a sappy soft-rock
anthem overplayed at high school dances. Unlike the Journey hit, however, ‘Desperado’
is actually good . It’s one of those tunes that stops you dead in your tracks when you
hear it at the perfect moment. In fact, its overuse is the cardinal sin of the Eagles
catalog. It’s like the Beatles’ ‘Let it Be.’ It’s wonderful, but the context in which it is
played is everything.
# 5 – ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ (‘One Of These Nights’ / 1975)
One Of These Nights was a bit of an identity crisis for the Eagles. The album toys with
their roots – that Americana, country cowboy rock, all while toying with slicker rock
stylings as well. ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ is the most elegant culmination of that crisis. Nobody did
harmonies in the 70s like the Eagles did. ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ is a killer excursion through that,
doused in lovable infectiousness.
# 4 – ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ (‘Eagles’ / 1972)
‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ is arguably very similar to ‘Lyin’ Eyes.’ Thematically, they’re
similar, and instrumentally, ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ represents the genesis of what the
Eagles would build upon to get to ‘Lyin’ Eyes.’ That said, the song is still one of the
greatest soft rock efforts in history. For anyone fortunate enough to attend a proper
Eagles show, they’ll attest to this: ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ manifests itself into an
unearthly presence in concert. It isn’t just a crowd-pleaser. It brings the crowd
# 3 – ‘Doolin-Dalton’ (‘Desperado’ / 1973)
‘Doolin-Dalton,’ the song and characters, sets the thematic stage for ‘Desperado’ as a
record. That’s why the Eagles return to it halfway through the album and again at the
end. The song represents a fascinating concept: the Eagles had harnessed country
western themes so well that their contemporary renditions actually felt dated. (In a
good way. That means authenticity in this sense.) ‘Doolin-Dalton,’ when stripped of its
harmonies and polished vocals, could easily be a Waylon Jennings track. The track
didn’t just master a sound; it mastered a style of lyricism.
# 2 – ‘Saturday Night’ (‘Desperado’ / 1973)
‘Saturday Night’ is certainly a deeper cut. It doesn’t make it onto most Eagles playlists
and it didn’t make it onto the best-selling ‘Their Greatest Hits’ album in 1976, either.
Perhaps the track is due for some proper recognition. Landing itself toward the end of
‘Desperado,’ the gorgeous song may be what the Eagles sounded like when they were
in perfect unison and on the same mental wavelength. That mandolin? Priceless. The
atmosphere? Haunting. The vocal sections? About as ‘Eagles’ as you can get.
# 1 – ‘Take It Easy’ (‘Eagles’ / 1972)
It isn’t common that the first song the world ever hears from an artist or band remains
their strongest over forty years later. If that was the case more often, Bob Dylan’s best
track would be a cover, The Beatles would have never surpassed ‘I Saw Her Standing
There,’ and David Bowie wouldn’t have ever been the Thin White Duke, just the guy
that wrote the obscure ‘Uncle Arthur.’
The Eagles are different. The best track they ever released was their first. The opening
of their eponymous debut is unforgettable forty-four years later. It’s such a perfect
rock song. It harvested everything from its surroundings in 1972 to create something
familiar, but also entirely foreign. Written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, the
latter clearly got the better end of the deal. Take it easy, Mr. Frey. Your legacy is a one
of a kind.
Top 10 Eagles Songs