We pick our favourite tracks from the Californian legends.
Formed in 1971, Eagles initial run as a band only lasted nine years. In that short space of time, the band released some of the decade’s most enduring hits, alongside a greatest hits compilation that went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time and spent 319 weeks on the Billboard Top 200.
It’s hard to whittle down so many great songs into a list of the ten best, but we’ve given it our best shot.
Take It To The Limit
Eagles were always more “crying around the campfire” than “tears in my beer” but this soulful exception is a doozy. It’s a firm fan-favourite, especially when former bassist Randy Meisner used to sing it live. It was Meisner’s eventual reluctance to perform the song that led to his departure from the band, but Glenn Frey and then Vince Gill picked up the mantle, rather than deprive fans of what is undoubtedly the band’s most stirring song.
Those opening notes immediately conjure images of deserted highways, full moons and creaky old buildings, even before Don Henley starts singing about the worst bad decision a weary traveller can make. The titular hotel is a Californian equivalent to the sirens’ song, but with far more indulgent excesses and one of the finest guitar solos of the 70s… which is really what Homer’s version was lacking.
Take It Easy
Is there a cooler line than: “It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me”? Jackson Browne started the song but couldn’t finish it, so he handed it off to Glenn Frey and the result is the smoothest, coolest ode to carefree living. It’s the kind of song that automatically rolls down your windows and forces the sun out of its hiding place.
If any other band had recorded Already Gone, it would probably be their best song, the one that brings the house down. The song was sent to Glenn Frey in the mail by songwriters Robb Strandlund and Jack Tempchin, but its melodic charm and country swagger is pure Eagles. With gorgeous harmonies and a sweltering guitar line from new recruit Don Felder, it was the perfect choice to raise the curtain on their third record, On The Border.
Desperado is Eagles in a nutshell. It starts simple, just a maudlin piano riff and Don’s sad, sad voice singing a song about a restless soul who can’t tell when he’s onto a good thing. Soft strings creep in, the whole thing swells so perfectly and then it quickly ebbs away again. 3 minutes and 33 seconds of bittersweet perfection.
Peaceful Easy Feeling
There’s something endlessly endearing about this laidback country shuffle from the band’s debut. Musically, it shares a lot of common ground with Lyin’ Eyes, but Peaceful Easy Feeling wins out for its wide-eyed lovestruck lyrics and sprightly pedal steel solo. Even when Frey sings “This voice keeps whispering in my other ear, telling me I might never see you again”, that peaceful easy feeling lets him just shrug it off. Positive vibes win out every time.
The Last Resort
The ambition of the Hotel California album reaches its denouement with this grandiose seven-minute-plus epic. If Hotel California (the song) is the warning shot that the party is about to turn ugly, The Last Resort finds the revellers gone and the room irreparably trashed. It’s a sad, cynical song but stunning nonetheless.
The sweeping, orchestral melodrama of Wasted Time would have seemed out of place on the Eagles’ first three records but it’s right at home on the more sonically ambitious Hotel California. Henley’s rasp has never sounded better.
There were only six years between the dusty country of Desperado and the bluesy glam rock of Heartache Tonight but a whole world of musical difference. Those sweet, amiable cowboys of the early records have been hardened by the city, but their new worldliness wasn’t all bad. This stomping number rocks harder than almost any other Eagles song.
Learn To Be Still
There’s a choice to be made when a band gets back together: stick to the hits or risk your legacy with some new songs? When Eagles returned from the void in 1994, they did so with four new songs, all of which only bolstered their cannon. Learn To Be Still is the best of the four, a broken-hearted ballad that comes off like Desperado rewritten for the 90s.
Eagles return to the UK for two headline performance at London’s Wembley Stadium.
28 August 2021 – Wembley Stadium, London
29 August 2021 – Wembley Stadium, London
Remaining tickets for Eagles at Wembley Stadium are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.