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Top Songs by the Eagles

In 1971, the founding members of the Eagles—Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner—met for the first time as backing musicians in Linda Ronstadt’s band. It wasn’t long after playing together that the men realized their potential and informed Ronstadt that they were leaving her band to form their own. With their poignant lyrics and rich harmonies, the Eagles became one of the most successful rock groups in history, capturing the sound and culture of Southern California in the ‘70s and landing themselves a spot (if not several) on people’s road trip playlists across the country. Here is a list of their Top Ten songs ranked by Roots Magazine.

#10 “One of These Nights”

One of These Nights (1975, Asylum)

With “One of These Nights,” the title track of their 1975 album, the Eagles wanted to try something different than the soft, country-rock they had become accustomed to. After all, guitarist Don Felder had joined the band the year before, so a harder rock sound was waiting to be unleashed, and unleashed it was. Felder’s guitar work combined with Don Henley’s smooth, soulful vocals that ascend into a falsetto towards the end of the song earned the band a #1 spot on the charts. It’s a song about wanting to experience life, but at the same time putting things off. As with many of their songs, the Eagles wrote something that people could relate to.

#9 “Witchy Woman”

Eagles (1972, Asylum)

“Witchy Woman” is a song that Bernie Leadon had started writing while he was a member of The Flying Burrito Brothers, before he joined Linda Ronstadt’s band. When he joined the Eagles, he presented it to Don Henley and the two finished it together, making it one of the first songs Henley wrote. The song tells the story of a slinky seductress with “raven hair and ruby lips” and Henley’s warnings to another man who might cross her path, “Let me tell you brother, she’s been sleeping in the devil’s bed.” The eerie vibe of the lyrics is amplified by the pulsing drumbeat and electric guitar’s brooding intensity.

#8 “Heartache Tonight”

The Long Run (1979, Asylum)

The Eagles received a songwriting assist from Glenn Frey’s mentor Bob Seger on this track, as he wrote the chorus after the band struggled to come up with one. The growl in Frey’s voice as he grinds out the words and the distinctive percussion of this foot-stomping anthem are in sharp contrast to the lyrics, which tell the story of an inevitable heartbreak that will happen before the night’s over. It’s not their most lyrically complex song, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s another relatable hit that won them a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group in 1979.

#7 “Already Gone”

On the Border (1974, Asylum)

The opener for the album On the Border, “Already Gone” was written by Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Jack Tempchin. Glenn Frey took the original, a soft country song about getting over the end of a relationship, and made it into a ramped-up, rocking kiss-off complete with his and Felder’s dueling guitar solos.

#6 “Peaceful Easy Feeling”

Eagles (1972, Asylum)

Another song written by Jack Tempchin that the Eagles recorded, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” also features Glenn Frey on lead. He’d first heard the song when Tempchin played it at Jackson Browne’s house and asked him if the Eagles could play it on the road. With Tempchin’s blessing, the Eagles recorded the song and it was released as the third single from the band’s debut album. Frey, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner’s voices come together in a brilliant three-part harmony, providing a sharpness to the otherwise mellow and easygoing nature of the song, which was written about a serene state of mind that couldn’t be shaken.

#5 “Take It to the Limit”

One of These Nights (1975, Asylum)

As with many other Eagles tracks, “Take It to the Limit” was a collaborative effort. Written by Randy Meisner with the help of Glenn Frey and Don Henley, this lonely ballad is the only song that Meisner sings lead on. He was reluctant to sing the song live for fear of not being able to hit the high notes at the end of the song each night, which led to tensions within the band and was ultimately a factor in Meisner leaving the band. The Eagles continued to sing the song on their tours after Meisner’s departure, with Frey taking over lead vocals until his death in 2016.

#4 “Lyin’ Eyes”

One of These Nights (1975, Asylum)

In “Lyin’ Eyes,” listeners follow along as Glenn Frey tells the story of a married woman having an affair with her lover on the “cheatin’ side of town.” Frey’s inspiration for the song was said to have come from seeing a young woman out to dinner with a much older man at Dan Tana’s, a restaurant in Los Angeles the Eagles frequented. It was their first crossover hit, reaching #8 on the country charts thanks to Frey and Randy Meisner’s acoustic guitars, Don Felder’s mandolin, and Frey’s slight twang.

#3 “Hotel California”

Hotel California (1977, Asylum)

From the instantly recognizable guitar riff and bass line to the iconic opening line that immediately paints a picture with vivid imagery, “Hotel California” is arguably their most famous song. Its working title was “Mexican Reggae” because Don Felder’s demo tape of the song had reggae influences, but the title changed as Don Henley and Glenn Frey wrote the lyrics. Throughout the years, many have speculated the meaning of the lyrics, but according to Henley, it’s a commentary about excess and the dark flipside of the American dream. The song’s a six and half minute epic that reaches a sweltering peak with battling guitar solos from Joe Walsh and Don Felder.

#2 “Desperado”

Desperado (1973, Asylum)

The title track of their second album, “Desperado” is significant because it marked the beginning of a decades-long songwriting partnership between Don Henley and Glenn Frey. With Henley’s haunting vocals and the accompaniment of the London Symphony Orchestra, this song presents the struggles the band faced with new-found fame in the form of the lonely life a cowboy leads on a trail out West. Their friend Linda Ronstadt covered the song in 1973, bringing the song to new audiences and boosting its popularity.

#1 “Take It Easy”

Eagles (1972, Asylum)

Before “Hotel California,” there was “Take It Easy,” the first hit single for the Eagles. The idea for the song came from fellow easy rocker Jackson Browne, who was Glenn Frey’s neighbor in their apartment building in Santa Monica. Browne, who was writing the song for his 1972 debut album, was having trouble finishing the song, so he showed it to Frey, who contributed lines like, “It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.” The song served as an introduction to both the Eagles and the country-rock genre and embodied the Southern California vibe and sound that they would become synonymous with as their career progressed.

Written by Brooke Luna


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