Eagles: Very Best Of

CONVERSATIONS WITH DON HENLEY AND GLENN FREY
by Cameron Crowe August 2003

TAKE IT EASY
GLENN: Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, and I all lived at 1020 Laguna in Echo Park. J.D. and I shared a $60-a-month, one-room apartment — a couch and kind of a bed with a curtain in front of it. Right underneath us in an even smaller studio apartment was Jackson. He had his piano and guitars down there. I didn’t really know how to sit down and work on a song until I heard him playing underneath us in the basement. He would work on “Jamaica Say You Will,” and he had the first verse and chorus. Then he would sing the second verse — sing it five or six times — and then silence. Twenty seconds later, he would start again and sing the second verse this time, and, if he liked it, he’d sing it over and over again. I had never really witnessed that sort of focus — someone being that fastidious — and it gave me a different idea about how to write songs; that maybe it wasn’t all just going to be a flood of inspiration. That’s when I first heard “Take It Easy.”

DON: We gave Glenn a nickname, The Lone Arranger. He had a vision about how our voices could blend and how to arrange the vocals and, in many cases, the tracks. He also had a knack for remembering and choosing good songs. Jackson had shelved “Take It Easy” because he couldn’t complete it, but it was Glenn who remembered the song from some time earlier and asked Jackson about it one day.

GLENN: I told him that I really liked it. “What was that, man? What a cool tune that is.” He started playing it for me and said, “Yeah, but I don’t know — I’m stuck.” So he played the second unfinished verse and I said, “It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.” That was my contribution to “Take It Easy,” really, just finishing the second verse. Jackson was so thrilled. He said, “Okay! We cowrote this.” But it’s certainly more of him. Sometimes, you know, it’s the package without the ribbon. He already had the lines about Winslow, Arizona. He’d had car trouble and broken down there on one of his trips to Sedona. He spent a long day in Winslow…. I don’t know that we could have ever had a better opening song on our first album. Just those open chords felt like an announcement, “And now … the Eagles.”

WITCHY WOMAN
DON: Bernie and I just sort of stumbled upon “Witchy Woman.” I was living in an old house in the Hollywood Hills on the corner of Camrose and Tower, near the Hollywood Bowl. Bernie was living way out in Topanga Canyon, but he came over one day and started playing this strange, minor-key riff that sounded sort of like a Hollywood movie version of Indian music — you know, the kind of stuff they play when the Indians ride up on the ridge while the wagon train passes below. It had a haunting quality, and I thought it was interesting, so we put a rough version of it down on a cassette tape. Shortly after that, I came down with the flu. I had a very high fever and became semi-delirious at times — and that’s when I wrote most of the lyrics. Every time the fever subsided, I would continue to read a new book I’d gotten on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, and I think that figured into the mix somehow — along with amorphous images of girls I had met at the Whisky and the Troubadour. An important song for me, because it marked the beginning of my professional songwriting career. It went to #9 in the charts.

PEACEFUL EASY FEELING
GLENN: Well, it reminded me so much of Poco. Compared to the original recording, it’s evolved through live performances to where it’s a bit of a different animal now. Back then, Poco was the band that impressed me most. Their vocals were pristine and perfect. They were the band I wanted to model us after. We loved all the singing bands — The Byrds and The Beach Boys — but to be honest, right then I had my eye on Poco… and I wanted to go beyond them too. Ironically, we’d have two bass players over the years, both from Poco. “Peaceful Easy Feeling” had a happy, country-rock quality but a bittersweet irony about it that I thought was really great. I still love that song. Love singing it.

DESPERADO
DON: “Desperado” was a song fragment that I’d had since the late ’60s. Maybe ’68, I started that song. It wasn’t even called”Desperado.” It was called something else, but it was the same melody, same chords. I think it had something to do with astrology [chuckles]. Whatever the title was back then, it was horrible [laughs]. Jackson Browne suggested a Western theme — something to do with playing cards, I think — which is sort of where we were headed anyway. When we returned from England, after making our first album, I was living in a little house, way up in Laurel Canyon. I think Roger McGuinn had lived there previously. It was one of those houses on stilts, and when the winds were high, the house would rock gently. It was sort of unsettling, but I got used to it after a while. Anyway, Glenn came over to write one day, and I showed him this unfinished tune that I had been holding for so many years. I said, “When I play it and sing it, I think of Ray Charles — Ray Charles and Stephen Foster. It’s really a Southern gothic thing, but we can easily make it more Western.” Glenn leapt right on it — filled in the blanks and brought structure. And that was the beginning of our songwriting partnership … that’s when we became a team.

GLENN: It was only a day or two after we had been back from England with our first album. Don sat down at the piano and showed me this song he was working on, and it was the intro to “Desperado.” Originally, it was written for a friend of his whose name was Leo. And so the song started out “Leo, my God, why don’t you come to your senses. You’ve been out ridin’ fences for so long now.” We’d all been to the Troubadour to see Tim Hardin, and later the four of us, Jackson, J.D. Souther, Don, and myself went to somebody’s house… it wasn’t mine. I don’t know if it was J.D.’s, but we went somewhere and started jamming. That’s when the idea came together about us doing an album of all the angst-meisters [laughs]. It was going to be all of the antiheroes. James Dean was going to be one song, and the Doolin-Dalton gang was going to be another. The idea became “Desperado,” and Don’s Stephen Foster song acquired a new first line — “Desperado… why don’t you come to your senses?” That same week we wrote “Desperado” and “Tequila Sunrise.” I think I brought him ideas and a lot of opinions; he brought me poetry — we were a good team.

TEQUILA SUNRISE
DON: I believe that was a Glenn title. I think he was ambivalent about it because he thought that it was a bit too obvious or too much of a cliché because of the drink that was so popular then. I said “No — look at it from a different point of view. You’ve been drinking straight tequila all night, and the sun is coming up!” It turned out to be a really great song. The changes that Glenn came up with for the bridge are very smart. That’s one song I don’t get tired of. “Take another shot of courage” refers to tequila — because we used to call it “instant courage.” We very much wanted to talk to the ladies, but we often didn’t have the nerve, so we’d drink a couple of shots and suddenly it was, “Howdy, ma’am.”

GLENN: I love the song. I think the goal of any songwriter is to make a song appear seamless, to never show the struggle. Nothing should sound forced. “Tequila Sunrise” was written fairly quickly, and I don’t think there’s a single chord out of place.

DOOLIN-DALTON
DON: Jackson, J.D., and Glenn had all started on this idea before I even got to California. Apparently, it began with a book on gunfighters that somebody — Ned Doheny, I believe — had given them when they were living in Echo Park. As we were writing the song “Desperado” I guess we had that in mind, and so the theme turned decidedly Western. You know, mythical, majestic images of the great American Southwest… or as Donald Fagen later called it, “cowboy dream crap” [laughs]. Anyway, it was a time of great openness and camaraderie. There was a willingness to collaborate and there was a lot of mutual support and encouragement, which I thought was wonderful. In that atmosphere I began to come into my own as a songwriter. It was great having the opportunity to write with all those guys, because they were so damned opinionated. “This is crap. That’s brilliant. That’s crap.” I loved it. None of us had really accomplished much up to that point, but there were big plans and strong opinions flying around everywhere.

ALREADY GONE
GLENN: I got a tape of the song from Jack Tempchin in my mailbox at 1740 La Fontaine Ct., the house in Coldwater Canyon where I lived for 16 years. James Cagney’s brother, Ed, had once owned the house, and it still holds a lot of memories for me. James Cagney, in his later years, sometimes used the house as a hideaway and went there to play the piano and relax. In earlier years, the Cagneys held great parties in that bungalow. A lot of music happened there.

“Already Gone,” though, arrived in the mail. Jack was a songwriter we liked who was from San Diego, and he’d already written “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” “Already Gone” was one of the first songs we’d later do when we switched producers and started recording in Los Angeles. I had a very strained relationship with Glyn Johns. I think he got along better with all the other guys in the band. He was so intimidating, I was always afraid to be forthright and tell him what I thought. He was a taskmaster, and that was probably good for a young band, but the great thing for me about this song and record is that I left England behind and had a much more positive energy in the recording studio. The “all right, nighty-night” at the end of the song was sort of typical of the spontaneous feeling we wanted on our records. It was at this time that we changed producers and started working with Bill Szymczyk. I was much more comfortable in the studio with Bill, and he was more than willing to let everyone stretch a bit. “Already Gone” — that’s me being happier; that’s me being free.

THE BEST OF MY LOVE
DON: A lot of the lyrics were actually written in Dan Tana’s at a booth we liked to sit in, on the front side of the bar area. J.D. Souther wrote the bridge and it was perfect. That was the period when there were all these great-looking girls who didn’t really want to have anything to do with us. We were just scruffy new kids who had no calling card. We could be cocky at times — which was really just a front — but we weren’t very sophisticated or confident. We were typical, frustrated, young men. We wanted the girls to like us, but we had all the immature emotions that young men have — jealousy, envy, frustration, lust, insecurity, and the lot. At the same time, however, we were also becoming quite adept at brushing off girls who showed any interest in us. “If you want to be with me, I can’t possibly give you the time of day. I want that girl over there who couldn’t care less if I live or die.” Hence the line in “Desperado”: “You only want the ones that you can’t get.” We knew ourselves even then. Even in our immaturity we had some insight into our flawed little characters [rueful laughter]. Shaw was right — “Youth is wasted on the young.”

GLENN: I was playing acoustic guitar one afternoon in Laurel Canyon, and I was trying to figure out a tuning that Joni Mitchell had shown me a couple of days earlier. I got lost and ended up with the guitar tuning for what would later turn out to be “The Best of My Love.”

JAMES DEAN
GLENN: Again, all from that same night when we’d gone to see Tim Hardin. As Desperado became a concept album with an Old West theme, “James Dean” got shelved. When it came time to do On the Border, we got “James Dean” right off the shelf and said, “Let’s finish this.” I always thought the best line in “James Dean” was “I know my life would look alright if I could see it on the silver screen.” You just don’t get to do that.

DON: I sat there and listened to the guys talk about James Dean. They had evidently studied him and knew much more about him than I did. I had seen most of Dean’s movies, but I somehow missed the whole icon thing. The mythology never quite reached my part of East Texas, but I pitched in and ended up with a writing credit — although the song was mostly Jackson’s, I think.

OL’ 55
GLENN: David Geffen played me a tape of Tom Waits in his office. “Ol’ 55” was the first song on a demo that had maybe three songs on it. I loved the song, got Tom Waits’ version, and took it to the band. I played it for Don and said, “I think we should do this. We can split the vocals, it could be really cool, and we could do oooohs in this section here.” I really liked the song. Still do. It’s such a car thing. Your first car is like your first apartment. You had a mobile studio apartment! “Ol’ 55” was so Southern California, and yet there was some Detroit in it as well. It was that car thing, and I loved the idea of driving home at sunrise, thinking about what had happened the night before.

MIDNIGHT FLYER
DON: I was happy to do something in that vein, because I was a big bluegrass fan. The Dillards, in particular, had an enormous impact on me. Along with Doug Dillard and Herb Pedersen, Bernie Leadon was one of the top banjo players in the country, so I was proud to do a bluegrass tune — thought it lent a certain amount of authenticity and credibility to our band. It showed versatility.

Even now the Eagles are thought of as a country-rock band. The music industry and the media saddled us with that label at the very beginning, and, no matter how diverse our musical palate, it has been impossible to shake that stereotype. At the end of the day, we’re an American band. We’re a musical mutt with influences from every genre of American popular music. It’s all in there, and it’s fairly obvious.

ON THE BORDER
DON: This track turned out to be completely different from what I had envisioned. There was a clash of styles and influences in that song, and I’m not sure it ever became what it could have been, musically. As for the lyrics, there was a lot going on in the country at that time regarding the impeachment of Richard Nixon. The whole Watergate debacle was coming to a head. Interestingly, not unlike now, there were a lot of people concerned about the government overstepping its bounds with regard to issues of privacy. It’s much like the Ashcroft world we’re looking at today. So that’s what the verses ended up being about. It’s an odd song. I like Glenn’s cool little R&B guitar part in the tag, though, and at the very end there’s something almost inaudible. Someone — it had to be Glenn or me — says, “Say goodnight, Dick,” which was a phrase made famous on The Smothers Brothers’ show when Tommy says, “Say goodnight, Dick.” We were addressing Nixon, because at that time it was pretty clear that he was on his way out, so that was our little kiss-off to Tricky Dick.

LYIN’ EYES
DON: “Lyin’ Eyes” is one of the songs written when Glenn and I were roommates in a house we rented up in Trousdale. It was built in 1942 by the actress Dorothy Lamour. Glenn and I lived at opposite ends of the house and we actually converted a music room to a full-on recording studio. The house was located at the highest point on the hill and we had a 360-degree panorama. In the daytime, we could see snowcapped peaks to the east and the blue Pacific to the west. At night, the twinkling lights of the city below were breathtaking. The place had a couple of nicknames — “the House With the Million Dollar View” and “The Eagles’ Nest,” of course. We had some great times up there. As for “Lyin’ Eyes,” Glenn’s pretty much responsible for that track and for the title, the choruses. I helped out with the verses and perhaps with the melody. It’s really Glenn’s baby.

GLENN: The house was up on Briarcrest Lane. That’s where we wrote “One Of These Nights,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Take It To The Limit,” “After The Thrill Is Gone,” and a couple of other tunes for the One Of These Nights album. But “Lyin’ Eyes” — the story had always been there. I don’t want to say it wrote itself, but once we started working on it, there were no sticking points. LYrics just kept coming out, and that’s not always the way songs get written. I think songwriting is a lot like pushing a boulder up a hill. I’d love to get the legal pad for “Lyin’ Eyes” again, because I think there were verses we didn’t use.

ONE OF THESE NIGHTS
DON: We’d started to explore our love of rhythm & blues and the Gamble & Huff records that came out of Philadelphia. We were also huge fans of Al Green. Glenn was the catalyst for this song. I think he sat down with a guitar and started playing that rhythm part [sings it]. It was another song from the “Lyin’ Eyes” house. We like to call it our “satanic country-rock period” [laughs]. Because it was a dark time, both politically and musically, in America. There was turmoil in Washington and disco music was starting to take off. We thought, “Well, how can we write something with that flavor, with that kind of beat, and still have the dangerous guitars?” We wanted to capture the spirit of the times. So, perched up there on top of that hill, almost all night, every night, we had a big, phantasmagorical scene which included songwriting and, uh — research. Lots of research.

The song is a great showcase for high harmony. Meisner hit some notes that only dogs could hear. We also started getting into harmony parts on guitars that simulated horn riffs. It was a cool record.

GLENN: We had Don Henley’s voice, which allowed us to go in a more soulful direction, which made me exceedingly happy. There’s no doubt in my mind that One Of These Nights was the most fluid and “painless” album we ever made. A lot of things came together on One Of These Nights — our love of the studio, the dramatic improvement in Don’s and my songwriting. We made a quantum leap with “One Of These Nights.” It was a breakthrough song. It is my favorite Eagles record. If I ever had to pick one, it wouldn’t be “Hotel California”; it wouldn’t be “Take It Easy.” For me, it would be “One Of These Nights.”

TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT
GLENN: I just remember being very happy for Randy. We had tried, unsuccessfully, to get a piece of material for him — or from him — that might be a hit single, or turn into one. I don’t think we ever consciously tried to make a hit single. We finally succeeded with “Take It To The Limit.” That’s the first Eagles single to sell a million copies. It was our first gold single, maybe our only gold single. People always tended to buy our albums instead. We still had hit records, but they wouldn’t sell through as 45s much. We had a lot of #1s, but I know that “Take It To The Limit” was our first gold single. And when Randy would sing it in Japan — it was mass hysteria [laughs].

AFTER THE THRILL IS GONE
DON: “After The Thrill Is Gone” is something of an overlooked song that I think is very good. It’s me and Glenn, working together. He did the verses with a little help from me. I did the bridge. As exciting as the whole Eagles thing was at times, some of the luster was beginning to wear off. We were combining our personal and professional lives in song.

GLENN: It’s a sleeper. That record is a lot of self-examination, hopefully not too much. There was a lot of double-meaning and a lot of irony. “Any kind of love without passion/Well, that ain’t no kind of lovin’ at all…” — pure Henley.

HOTEL CALIFORNIA
GLENN: The song began as a demo tape, an instrumental by Don Felder. He’d been submitting tapes and song ideas to us since he’d joined the band, always instrumentals, since he didn’t sing. But this particular demo, unlike many of the others, had room for singing. It immediately got our attention. The first working title, the name we gave it, was “Mexican Reggae.”

For us, “Hotel California” was definitely thinking and writing outside the box. We had never written any song like it before. Similar to “Desperado,” we did not start out to make any sort of concept or theme album. But when we wrote “Life In The Fast Lane” and started working on “Hotel California” and “New Kid In Town” with J.D., we knew we were heading down a long and twisted corridor and just stayed with it. Songs from the dark side — the Eagles take a look at the seamy underbelly of L.A. — the flip side of fame and failure, love and money.

“They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast” was a little Post-It back to Steely Dan. Apparently, Walter Becker’s girlfriend loved the Eagles, and she played them all the time. I think it drove him nuts. So, the story goes that they were having a fight one day, and that was the genesis of the line, “turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening” in “Everything You Did,” from Steely Dan’sThe Royal Scam album. During the writing of “Hotel California,” we decided to volley. We just wanted to allude to Steely Dan rather than mentioning them outright, so “Dan” got changed to “knives,” which is still, you know, a penile metaphor. Stabbing, thrusting, etc.

Almost everybody in my business can write music, play guitar, play piano, create chord progressions, etc., but it’s only when you add lyrics and melody and voices to these things that they take on an identity and become something beyond that sum of the individual parts. I remember that Henley and I were listening to the “Hotel California” demo tape together on an airplane, and we were talking about what we would write and how we wanted to be more cinematic. We wanted this song to open like an episode of The Twilight Zone — just one shot after another.

I remember De Niro in The Last Tycoon. He’s got this scene, and he’s talking to some other people in his office. He speaks to them: “The door opens…the camera is on a person’s feet…he walks across the room…we pan up to the table… he picks up a pack of matches that says ‘The Such-And-Such Club’ on it… strikes a match and lights a cigarette…puts it out… goes over to the window… opens the shade… looks out… the moon is there… what does it mean? Nothing. It’s just the movies.” “Hotel California” is like that. We take this guy and make him like a character in The Magus, where every time he walks through a door there’s a new version of reality. We wanted to write a song just like it was a movie. This guy is driving across the desert. He’s tired. He’s smokin’. Comes up over a hill, sees some lights, pulls in. First thing he sees is a really strange guy at the front door, welcoming him: “Come on in.” Walks in, and then it becomes Fellini-esque — strange women, effeminate men, shadowy corridors, disembodied voices, debauchery, illusion… Weirdness. So we thought, “Let’s really take some chances. Let’s try to write in a way that we’ve never written before.” Steely Dan inspired us because of their lyrical bravery and willingness to go “out there.” So, for us, “Hotel California” was about thinking and writing outside the box.

DON: We were enamored with hotels. Hotels were a big part of our lives. The Beverly Hills Hotel had become something of a focal point — literally and symbolically. I’ve always been interested in architecture and the language of architecture, and, at that time, I was particularly keen on the mission style of early California. I thought there was a certain mystery and romance about it. Then, there are all the great movies and plays in which hotels figure prominently, not only as a structure, but as a dramatic device. Films such as Grand Hotel, The Night Porter, and even Psycho — motels count too. There are plays like Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite and California Suite, which Glenn and I went to see while writing the song. We saw it as homework or research. We were looking for things that would stimulate us and give us ideas. Sometimes it was just driving around. We would still take trips out to the desert. At one point, Glenn and I rented a little red house up in Idlewild — way up in the San Bernadino Mountains. We’d drive out there sometimes just to clear our heads, sleep on the floor in sleeping bags. We didn’t have any furniture. We were just on the quest.

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE
GLENN: This began with a Joe Walsh riff — he had that signature guitar part. I had the title. The true story is: I was riding in a car with a drug dealer — a guy we used to call “The Count,” because his count was never very good [laughs]. We were driving out to an Eagles poker game. I was in the passenger seat. He moved over to the left lane and started driving 75-80 miles per hour. I said, “Hey, man, slow down.” He goes, “Hey, man, it’s life in the fast lane.” And I thought, “Oh, my God, what a title.” I didn’t write it down. I didn’t have to.

Joe started playing a riff at rehearsal one day, and I said, “That’s ‘Life In The Fast Lane.'” So we started writing a song about the couple that had everything and did everything — and lost the meaning of everything. Lifestyles of the rich and miserable. I think the best line is “We’ve been up and down this highway, haven’t seen an God-damn thing.” That pretty much summarized the journey these people were on — rich as hell, gettin’ high, got everything they want, and yet they’re living in a spiritual ghetto. That’s good news to the common man! Rich folks who are absolutely miserable — and most of them are. I really like this record. Plus it made a statement: Joe Walsh was officially in the band.

WASTED TIME
GLENN: It’s a Philly-soul torch song. I loved all the records coming out of Philadelphia at that time. I sent for some sheet music so I could learn some of those songs, and I started creating my own musical ideas with that Philly influence. Don was our Teddy Pendergrass. He could stand out there all alone and just wail. We did a big Philly-type production with strings — definitely not country rock. You’re not going to find that track on a Crosby, Stills & Nash record or Beach Boys record. Don’s singing abilities stretched so many of our boundaries. He could sing the phone book. It didn’t matter. We had Golden Throat [laughs appreciatively]. Jim Ed Norman, Don’s old college buddy and former bandmate — and now President of Warner/Reprise Records/Nashville — wrote all of our string charts. He was right there with us in terms of wanting to do something like Thom Bell. It was definitely us loving Thom Bell.

VICTIM OF LOVE
GLENN: That’s an Eagles track with no overdubs. It’s five pieces, live. For a band that did a lot of overdubbing and a lot of editing, it was a neat thing to do. We just said, “Look, let’s just cut this thing live and this will be it. It’ll be what it is.”

THE LAST RESORT
GLENN: “The Last Resort” was the final piece of the Hotel Californiapuzzle. We started the song early in the record, and Don finished seven months later. I called it Henley’s opus. I helped describe what the song was going to be about and assisted with the arrangement, but it was Don’s lyrics and basic chord progression.

One of the primary themes of the song was that we keep creating what we’ve been running away from — violence, chaos, destruction. We migrated to the East Coast, killed a bunch of Indians, and just completely screwed that place up. Then we just kept moving west: “Move those teepees, we got some train tracks coming through here. Get outta the way, boy!” There were some very personal references in the song, including a girl from Providence, Rhode Island, who Don had dated for some time. She had taken an inheritance from her grandfather and moved to Aspen, Colorado, in search of a new life. Look where Aspen is now. How prophetic is “The Last Resort” 28 years after it was written? Aspen is a town where the billionaires have driven out the millionaires. It was once a great place. Look at Lahaina; look at Maui. It’s so commercial. It’s everything Hawaii was not supposed to be. Whether we’re carrying the cross or carrying the gasoline cane, we seem to have a penchant for wrecking beautiful places.

DON: The final burst on this one happened in Benedict Canyon at a house I was living in with Irving [Azoff, the band’s longtime manager and friend]. I was thinking of all the literary themes based on nature that I had studied back in school — the awesome beauty and the spirituality inherent in the natural world and the unrelenting destruction of it, wrought by this thing that we call civilization or progress.

Some years earlier we had done a couple of benefit concerts with Neil Young for the Chumash Tribe, Native American people who are indigenous to California. We became friends with an elder in the tribe named Samu, and, eventually, we were invited to attend some tribal rituals and drum ceremonies. Samu was on a mission to raise funds for an education program which would teach the young people in the tribe about their language and their culture. The old man feared, rightly, that the white man’s culture was stripping his people of their identity. They were losing the memory of their language, their ceremonies, their history. We were fortunate enough to be able to help.

Also, I’d been reading articles and doing research about the raping and pillaging of the West by mining, timber, oil and cattle interests. But I was interested in an even larger scope for the song, so I tried to go “Michener” with it. I remember going out to Malibu and standing on Zuma beach, looking out at the ocean. I remember thinking, “this is about as far west — with the exception of Alaska — as you can go on this continent. This is where Manifest Destiny ends — right here, in the middle of all these surfboards and volleyball nets and motor homes.” And then I thought, “Nah, we’ve gone right on over and screwed up Hawaii too.”

I still think, though, that the song was never fully realized, musically speaking. It’s fairly pedestrian from a musical point of view. But lyrically it’s not bad. Especially the last verse, which turns it from one thing into another and it becomes an allegorical statement about religion — the deception and destructiveness that is inherent in the mythology of most organized religion — the whole “dominion” thing. The song is a reaffirmation of the age-old idea that everything in the universe is connected and that there are consequences, downstream, for everything we do.

NEW KID IN TOWN
GLENN: We won a Grammy® for Best Vocal Arrangement for “New Kid In Town.” I’m quite proud of that.

DON: J.D. Souther started the song. It’s about the fleeting, fickle nature of love and romance. It’s also about the fleeting nature of fame, especially in the music business. We were already chronicling our own demise [laughs]. We were basically saying, “Look, we know we’re red hot now, but we also know that somebody’s going to come along and replace us — both in music and in love.” We were always doing that double entendre thing, between the music business and personal relationships. But that song was J.D.’s baby — he was the father of that song.

PLEASE COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
DON: When I was growing up in East Texas, there were basically two radio stations that were interesting. There was KEEL in Shreveport, Louisiana, which I listened to in the daytime. Then there was the legendary WNOE in New Orleans, which I could pick up at night when the station boosted its signal. It broadcasted this wonderful, eclectic mix of music which was like nothing I had ever heard on the pop stations in Texas. WNOE is where I first heard Charles Brown’s original version of “Please Come Home For Christmas.” It always stuck with me. Our version was very much like the original.

GLENN: We were in the middle of The Long Run album, and we weren’t going to finish anytime soon. So we cut a Christmas record in Miami. It was a fall day, by the way, and it was hot as hell. Perfect for a Christmas record.

HEARTACHE TONIGHT
GLENN: …and then they sold 12 million records, and everything changed! As Bob Dylan said, “They deceived me into thinking I had something to protect.” And that’s what happened with us. We made it, and it ate us. The Long Run became, indeed, the long run. It was a difficult record to make overall, but I loved “Heartache Tonight.” Whenever Bob Seger was in L.A., he always used to come over and visit me, and he’d visit Don, too, and play us stuff he was working on — and we would do the same. I seem to remember that I had the verse thing going on for “Heartache Tonight,” and I was showing it to Seger, and we were jammin’ — I think we were jammin’ on electric guitars at LaFontaine — and then he blurted out the chorus. That’s how “Heartache” started. Then Bob disappeared, and J.D., Don, and I finished that song up. No heavy lyrics — the song is more of a romp — and that’s what it was intended to be.

THE SAD CAFÉ
GLENN: The title comes from the book by Carson McCullers. I love the title, which didn’t have anything to do with the song, other than it was a great title. The line that really resonates for me in that song is “I don’t know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free.” There were so many of us aspiring musicians hanging around at the Troubadour. Some nights when Doug Dillard got drunk enough, and Gene Clark got drunk enough, and Harry Dean Stanton got drunk enough… near closing time… they would all start singing. There would be these unbelievable impromptu versions of “Amazing Grace” — all sorts of Ozark spiritual things with the whole bar singing… That stuff never really happened. We were getting older (when we wrote the song), and there was a sadness because we had seen, close-up, that everybody’s dreams don’t come true. Or, at least, not in the way they think they’re gonna come true.

DON: A train used to run down the center of Santa Monica Boulevard, right outside the Troubadour. Steve Martin actually had a routine where he’d get the entire audience to exit the club, hop a flatcar on that slow-moving train and ride up to La Cienega, a few blocks east. Then, everybody would hop off and walk back down to the club together. I don’t think that happened very many times — maybe not even more than once or twice, because the railroad people didn’t like it. It was kind of dangerous and there was liability involved. Still — and I don’t want to over-mythologize — it was something to remember. That was a wonderful time in Los Angeles. The city was alive with magic and a sense of possibility. People were warmer and more open than they are now.

Then, of course, there was the dark side. Friends and acquaintances of ours (from that era) had begun to meet untimely ends — classic cases of “too much, too soon.” It was either that or “too little, too late.” So we were struggling to make sense of that dichotomy, that contradiction. Is fortune a good thing or a bad thing, you know? Is being fortunate, before you’re ready to accept it and deal with it, actually fortunate — or is it unfortunate? We were struggling with our own success — riddled with feelings of guilt and unworthiness. I think a lot of young artists feel that way. We always identified with that great song “Fakin’ It,” by Paul Simon. It takes many years and lots of experience for a man to get comfortable in his own skin. But the Troubadour, Dan Tana’s restaurant, the train — all those things served as a great metaphor for the search, the journey that so many of us were on.

I CAN’T TELL YOU WHY
DON: Timothy came in with the title and other bits and pieces. Glenn and I just wanted to surround it with everything we could. Glenn came up with that wonderful counterpart, very much a soul-record type thing, “Try to keep your head, little girl.” Glenn also composed and played that great guitar solo.

GLENN: Timothy joined the band and the real challenge, as Don and I saw it, was to get a piece of material for him that wasn’t country. So we got him over to LaFontaine, and the three of us got down to work. I said, “You could sing like Smokey Robinson. Let’s not do a Richie Furay, Poco-sounding song. Let’s do an R&B song.” He said, “Sure, love to try!” Some of those crazy moments happen when you just go over to the piano and jam. There I was, brave as a Budweiser, going right to the piano and saying, “Well, how ’bout something like this?” That’s another one of my absolute favorite Eagles songs. It’s got the mood. It’s got the “Ooh baby, baby” vocal. But, again, counterpoint — with Don and I singing against he melody and the understated, brilliant guitar stylings of yours truly [laughs]. It’s another song that people love in our live show. Since it is a ballad, we are not playing too loud and can hear the audience. Timothy starts, and there are thousands of people singing, “Look at us, baby…”

THE LONG RUN
GLENN: We’d had the idea for about six or seven years. The title of the song was apropos, and it seemed to be a good title for the album — let’s see who’ll last. I think it was a lot about longevity, and it was also about me just lovin’ Tyrone Davis’ record “Turning Point.” We had done some slicker production like the Philly sound, but “Long Run” was more like a tribute to Memphis with the slide guitars playing the parts of the horns.

DON: It was a long and difficult album. Everything was catching up to us. Too much pressure, too much worry, too much traveling, too many controlled substances, too much paranoia and infighting. I missed having a normal life. Glenn and I were starting to grow distant. Everything was pulling apart — and we were writing about longevity. [thoughtful pause] Yeah, well, even if we weren’t living it, we were always able to idealize it in a song about the way we’d like to be — the way we’d like to be perceived. That song may have been a message to our critics. It may have been a message from Glenn to me or me to Glenn. It could be taken all kinds of different ways. Could be a message to a girl — a long-departed lover. But, again, it was built on that foundation of Glenn’s rhythm guitar playing [sings part]. Always that foundation. So, here we are some 25 years later — 32 years total — still going strong. The Long Run, indeed.

IN THE CITY
GLENN: Of all the songs we were considering for the album, I always loved this one of Joe’s. An earlier solo version had been in the movieThe Warriors, but it wasn’t that widely known. I always liked the song and thought it could have been an Eagles record, and so we decided to make it one.

THOSE SHOES
DON: One of my favorites. At that time, all the girls were wearing Charles Jourdan shows — the ones with the little ankle straps. They’d become very popular and we were big fans [laughs]. And so, we said, “Well, it’s not enough just to write about that; we have to turn it into a metaphor for women standing on their own two feet, so to speak, and taking responsibility for their own lives, their own losses.” That was our intent. The lyric “Once you’ve started wearing those shoes” meant “Once you’ve started being your own woman and taking responsibility for your own life; once you’ve decided not to be just decoration — an appendage to some guy — then this is all the crap you’re going to have to put up with in conjunction with that.” Anyone who decided to become the master of his or her own destiny always has to put up with a lot of crap. On the surface the song was about the singles scene: the beautiful, young women seemingly unaware of the sharks waiting in the shallows… sharks that sometimes included us. It was also a great, great beat. It gave Felder a chance to strap on the talkbox, a device which Joe Walsh pioneered on “Rocky Mountain Way” — and the two of them soloed together…

GLENN: As far as I know, it’s the only double-talkbox solo in existence. That’s Felder and Walsh on talkbox at the end singing “Butt out…butt out….”

SEVEN BRIDGES ROAD
GLENN: We had heard Ian Matthews, from Matthews’ Southern Comfort, and he’d recorded that song on this album. We listened to his version and then modified our arrangement from that. Sometimes we start our show with it. It’s something we do well — four voices, a cappella. I think the bottom line is, that’s a style that comes very easily and naturally to us. It’s also something that our fans really love. It’s Americana.

LOVE WILL KEEP US ALIVE
GLENN: There was a short time, while the band had broken up, that Timothy and Sharkey — that’s Felder — were trying to put together a group with Max Carl from Jack Mack And The Heart Attack, Jim Capaldi from Traffic, and Paul Carrack. The five of them were getting together, I believe, out at Felder’s house and doing demos, trying to write songs and sing and do different things. From those demo sessions came Paul Carrack singing “Love Will Keep Us Alive.”

GET OVER IT
DON: Written in a burst. It’s the fastest song, tempo-wise, that we’ve ever recorded. The best thing about it is that it got Glenn and I in a room together again, after 14 years, and we created something as a team, even if it wasn’t the best thing we ever wrote.

GLENN: We were so sick of tabloid television — and this was eight years ago! I was so tired of professional victims everywhere you looked, all over the media. Don said, “I have a title: ‘Get Over It.'” I said, “That’s a song — let’s write it!” We got together at his place up the coast and wrote it. Whether it’s the best song we’ve ever written or not, it was the song that proved to use that we could write together again. During The Long Run our creative relationship became strained, perhaps just because we’d been going to the well for so long. We struggled to complete all the songs for The Long Run album. Let’s just say that I was less than confident that Don and I could get back in a room together and get through a piece of work. “Get Over It” showed us that we could get together and write again. For that reason it’s an important song to me.

HOLE IN THE WORLD
GLENN: We were supposed to start our record. We loaded in on Monday, September 10, to start the Eagles studio album in earnest. All the equipment was put in the day before, and we were supposed to go to the studio on the morning of 9/11, but after hearing the news we called each other up and said, “What’s the point? I don’t think there’s anything worth showing up for today.” So we stayed home. And then that night Don started “Hole in the World.”

DON: On September 10, 2001, my bandmates and I were still feeling elated from the successful tour of Europe we had completed in August. We had traveled all over the continent and made first-ever appearances in Russia, Finland, and Italy. It had been a memorable, satisfying experience. We were back in L.A. and preparing to record. Then, on the morning of September 11, the phone rang and it was my assistant, who said, “You’d better turn on the TV.” That evening, our recording session having been cancelled, I sat down at the piano in my home studio and started putting some chords with the phrase “hole in the world.” Just sort of wrote the refrain in one sitting. After that, the first verse came fairly quickly and then I was stuck. Months went by, but I didn’t show it to anybody. Then, other things started happening that gave additional meanings to “Hole In The World,” particularly after the [Iraqi] war started. The fighting was supposedly over in May, and yet one or two or three of our boys were — and still are — getting killed every day, which means somebody’s daddy is not coming home. So that’s another “hole” — a huge hole in somebody’s life — a child, a wife, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister. There are holes in the information that the public is getting, both from the media and the government. There are holes in what passes for the logic of this administration’s foreign policy. The stars and stripes may be flying and the drums beating, but things are never going to be the same for some people. The ill-conceived attempt to “avenge” the victims of September 11 has only brought more misery and sorrow. Things in today’s world are not so black-and-white, so clear-cut. This is not a John Wayne movie. This is the 21st century. It’s complex, and people have forgotten about our history — if they ever really knew it in the first place.

So I took my unfinished piece to the studio and showed it to Glenn, and he eventually wrote the second verse. We started a third verse and then scrapped it in favor of simplicity. I originally envisioned it as a very short song, anyway, like those little snippets the Beatles used to do that only lasted for about a minute, but it turned out to be a little longer than that.

GLENN: Talk about a record that you know is the Eagles: “Hi, we’re in charge again.” These would be the compelling perfect vocals, and of course let’s just start with Don’s opening lines of the song, which I think are brilliant — “They say that anger is just love disappointed.” It’s all there. The big chorus, the ooohs under the verse…. It’s a classic Eagles record, I’m telling you.

DON: A lot has happened since that summer of 1971. It is amazing and gratifying that so many people, all over the world, still love these songs and come out in droves to hear us play them. I live in Texas now, and sometimes, late at night, when I’m pushing the cart around the supermarket, I’ll hear one of our records and think, “I left here 33 years ago, did all that, and here I am back again… now, what did I come here to buy?”

DISC 1

1 TAKE IT EASY
(Jackson Browne/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #AS-11005 (5/1/72);
Pop #12, AC #12

2 WITCHY WOMAN
(Don Henley/Bernie Leadon)
Also issued as Asylum single #AS-11008 (8/1/72);
Pop #9

3 PEACEFUL EASY FEELING
(Jack Tempchin)
Also issued as Asylum single #AS-11013 (12/1/72);
Pop #22, AC #20

TRACKS 1-3
From EAGLES
Asylum #SD-5054 (6/17/72); LPs #22
Produced & Engineered by GLYN JOHNS
Recorded at OLYMPIC STUDIOS, London

4 DESPERADO
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey)

5 TEQUILA SUNRISE
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #AS-11017 (4/17/73);
Pop #64, AC #26

6 DOOLIN-DALTON
(Glenn Frey/J.D. Souther/Don Henley/Jackson Browne)

TRACKS 4-6
From DESPERADO
Asylum #SD-5068 (4/28/73); LPs #41
Produced by GLYN JOHNS
Engineered by GLYN JOHNS
Assisted by HOWARD KILGOUR
Recorded at ISLAND STUDIOS, London
With/JIM ED NORMAN: string arrangements

7 ALREADY GONE
(Jack Tempchin/Robb Strandlund)
Also issued as Asylum single #AS-11036-A (4/19/74);
Pop #32

8 THE BEST OF MY LOVE
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey/J.D. Souther)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45218-A (11/5/74);
Pop #1, AC #1

9 JAMES DEAN
(Jackson Browne/Glenn Frey/J. D. Souther)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45202-A (8/14/74);
Pop #77

10 OL’ 55
(Tom Waits)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45218-B (11/5/74)

11 MIDNIGHT FLYER
(Paul Craft)

12 ON THE BORDER
(Don Henley/Bernie Leadon/Glenn Frey)

TRACKS 7-12
From ON THE BORDER
Asylum #7E-1004 (4/13/74); LPs #17
Produced by BILL SZYMCZYK
for PANDORA PRODUCTIONS Ltd.
Engineered by BILL SZYMCZYK;
Assisted by ALLAN BLAZEK & GARY LADINSKY
Recorded at THE RECORD PLANT, Los Angeles, CA
With/AL PERKINS; pedal steel on “Ol’ 55”

“The Best Of My Love”
Produced by GLYN JOHNS
Engineered by GLYN JOHNS; Assisted by ROB THAER
Remix Engineer: BILL SZYMCZYK
Recorded at OLYMPIC SOUND STUDIOS, London

13 LYIN’ EYES
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45279-A (9/7/75);
Pop #2, AC #3

14 ONE OF THESE NIGHTS
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45257-A (5/19/75);
Pop #1, AC #20

15 TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT
(Randy Meisner/Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45293-A (11/15/75);
Pop #4, AC #4

16 AFTER THE THRILL IS GONE
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45293-B (11/15/75)

TRACKS 13-16
From ONE OF THESE NIGHTS
Asylum #7E-1039 (6/21/75); LPs #1
Produced by BILL SZYMCZYK
for PANDORA PRODUCTIONS Ltd.
Engineered by BILL SZYMCZYK & ALLAN BLAZEK,
with ED MASHAL, DON WOOD, MICHAEL BRAUNSTEIN & MICHAEL VERDICK
Recorded at CRITERIA STUDIOS, Miami, FL;
THE RECORD PLANT, Los Angeles, CA
With/JIM ED NORMAN; piano on “Lyin’ Eyes” & “Take It To The Limit”;string arrangements SID SHARP: concertmaster

17 HOTEL CALIFORNIA
(Don Felder/Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45386-A (2/22/77);
Pop #1, AC #10

TRACK 17
From HOTEL CALIFORNIA
[Refer to credits under first group of tracks on Disc 2]

DISC 2

1 LIFE IN THE FAST LANE
(Joe Walsh/Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45403-A (5/3/75);
Pop #11

2 WASTED TIME
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey)

3 VICTIM OF LOVE
(Don Felder/J.D. Souther/Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45373-Y (12/7/76)

4 THE LAST RESORT
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45403-B (5/3/77)

5 NEW KID IN TOWN
(J.D. Souther/Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-45373-X (12/7/76);
Pop #1, AC #2

TRACKS 1-5
From HOTEL CALIFORNIA
Asylum #7E-1084 (12/7/76); LPs #1
Produced by BILL SZYMCZYK
for PANDORA PRODUCTIONS Ltd.
Engineered by BILL SZYMCZYK, ALLAN BLAZEK, ED MASHAL & BRUCE HENSAL Mixed by BILL SZYMCZYK
Recorded at CRITERIA STUDIOS, Miami, FL;
THE RECORD PLANT, Los Angeles, CA
With/JIM ED NORMAN; string arrangements SID SHARP:concertmaster

6 PLEASE COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
(Charles Brown/Gene Redd)
Asylum single #E-45555-A (11/27/78); Pop #18,
AC #27/20/15

TRACK 6
[original single release]
Produced & Engineered by BILL SZYMCZYK
Recorded at BAYSHORE RECORDING STUDIO,
Coconut Grove, FL

7 HEARTACHE TONIGHT
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey/Bob Seger/J.D. Souther)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-46545-A (9/18/79);
Pop #1, AC #38

8 THE SAD CAFÉ
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey/Joe Walsh/J.D. Souther)

9 I CAN’T TELL YOU WHY
(Timothy B. Schmit/Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-46608-A (2/4/80);
Pop #8, AC #3

10 THE LONG RUN
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-46569-A (11/27/79);
Pop #8, AC #34

11 IN THE CITY
(Joe Walsh/Barry DeVorzon)

12 THOSE SHOES
(Don Felder/Don Henley/Glenn Frey)

TRACKS 7-12
From THE LONG RUN
Asylum #5E-508 (9/24/79); LPs #1
Produced by BILL SZYMCZYK
for PANDORA PRODUCTIONS Ltd.
Engineered by BILL SZYMCZYK & ED MASHAL;
Assisted by DAVE CROWTHER, JOHN SWAIN, MARK CURRY, BOB STRINGER, DAN EVERHART, BOB WINDER & PHIL JAMTASS
Recorded at BAYSHORE RECORDING STUDIO,
Coconut Grove, FL Additional Recording at ONE STEP UP RECORDING STUDIO, Los Angeles, CA; LOVE’N’COMFORT RECORDING STUDIO, Los Angeles, CA; BRITTANIA RECORDING STUDIO, Los Angeles, CA: THE RECORD PLANT, Los Angeles, CA
Mixed at BAYSHORE RECORDING STUDIO,
Coconut Grove, FL
With/DAVID SANBORN; alto sax on “The Sad Café”

13 SEVEN BRIDGES ROAD (Live)
(Steve Young)
Also issued as Asylum single #E-47100-A (12/15/80);
Pop #21, AC #17

TRACK 13
From THE EAGLES LIVE
Asylum #BB-705 (11/21/80); LPs #6
Produced by BILL SZYMCZYK
for PANDORA PRODUCTIONS Ltd.
Engineered by BILL SZYMCZYK, ALLAN BLAZEK, BILLY YOUDELMAN, BUDDY THORNTON, BIFF DAWES & KELLY KOTERA; Assisted by JAY PARTI, PHIL MacCONNELL, DENNIS MAYS & JIMMY PATTERSON Mixed by BILL SZYMCZYK
Recorded Live at various venues & dates “Seven Bridges Road” Recorded at SANTA MONICA CIVIC AUDITORIUM, Santa Monica, CA
[w/WALLY HEIDER REMOTE] (7/28/80)
Mixed at BAYSHORE RECORDING STUDIO,
Coconut Grove, FL

14 LOVE WILL KEEP US ALIVE
(Pete Vale/Jim Capaldi/Paul Carrack)
Also issued as Geffen [promo] single #PRO-CD-4714 (11/94); Pop #22, AC #1

15 GET OVER IT
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Also issued as Geffen single #19378 (10/18/94);
Pop #31, AC #21

TRACKS 14-15
From HELL FREEZES OVER
Geffen #GEFD-24725 (11/8/94); LPs #1
Produced by THE EAGLES, with ELLIOT SCHEINER & ROB JACOBS
Live Tracks Engineered & Mixed by ELLIOT SCHEINER;
Studio Tracks Engineered and Mixed by ROB JACOBS
Second Engineers: TOM WINSLOW, BARRY GOLDBERG, KEN VILLENUEVE, CARL GLANVILLE, ANDY GRASSI, CHARLIE BOUIS & TOM TRAFALSKI
Recorded at THE VILLAGE RECORDER, Los Angeles, CA;
SOUNDS INTERCHANGE, Toronto Mixed at THE VILLAGE RECORDER, Los Angeles, CA; A&M RECORDING STUDIOS, Hollywood, CA; HIT FACTORY, New York, NY
With/JAY OLIVER: keyboards on “Love Will Keep Us Alive”
SCOTT CRAGO:additional drums on “Get Over It” THE EAGLES, JAY OLIVER & DON DAVIS: horn & string arrangements

16 HOLE IN THE WORLD
(Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
Eagles Recording Co. DVD-single #70011 (7/15/03)

TRACK 16 
[original single release]
Produced by THE EAGLES & BILL SZYMCZYK
Engineered by STEVE CHURCHYARD, with RICHARD DAVIS, MIKE HARLOW & ANDY ACKLAND
Recorded at O’HENRY RECORDING STUDIOS, Hollywood, CA;
HENSON RECORDING STUDIOS, Hollywood, CA;
THE DOG HOUSE, Santa Monica, CA
With/STEUART SMITH: electric guitar WILL HOLLIS: acoustic pianoSCOTT CRAGO: percussion

NOTE: All selections are full-length album versions. Numbers in italics (following original release information) denote peak positions attained by singles on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” and “Easy Listening/(Hot) Adult Contemporary” charts, and by albums on Billboard‘s “Top LP’s & Tapes/The Billboard 200” charts, respectively — courtesy BPI Communications and Joel Whitburn’s Record Research Publications.

THE ALBUMS

Eagles (1972)
Desperado (1973)
On The Border (1974)
One Of These Nights (1975)
Their Greatest Hits, 1971-1975 (1976)
Hotel California (1976)
The Long Run (1979)
Eagles Live (1980)
Greatest Hits, Volume 2 (1982)
Hell Freezes Over (1994)
Selected Works, 1972-1999 (2000)

EAGLES

DON HENLEY:
vocals, drums, percussion
GLENN FREY:
vocals, guitars, slide guitar, keyboards
RANDY MEISNER:
vocals, bass, guitar, guitarone
BERNIE LEADON:
vocals, guitars, slide guitar, pedal steel, banjo, mandolin
DON FELDER:
vocals, guitars, slide guitar, steel guitar, keyboards
JOE WALSH:
vocals, guitars, slide guitar, keyboards
TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT:
vocals, bass

Courtesy of the Warner Music Group