The collection of musical talent that made up the Eagles during the 1970s was quite remarkable. Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Don Felder, Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmidt. Great musicians, and perhaps even better songwriters.
While the band has come in and out of prominence since the 1970s, its memorable catalog remains a staple of classic rock. Here's our definitive list of 25 notable songs from the Hall-of-Fame band.
Fourteen years after the Eagles broke up, Glenn Frey-Don Henley-penned "Get Over It" was released in 1994. It was part of the Hell Freezes Over live/studio album that was put out the same year. Actually, the track sounded more like a Henley solo offering. A song with a message (too many talking heads on television). Regardless, it was a top-40 hit that made the Eagles relevant and got the cash registers ringing again.
Blues, soul, rock. The title cut from the Eagles' third studio album from 1974 pretty much encompasses all the band stands for -- from a musical standpoint. It's a guitar-driven track, that has an undisputed California-style rock feel that was breaking fast and heavy during the early to mid-1970s. Though, as we'll see, there are more prominent songs from this album, this track can hold its own with much of the Eagles' catalog.
The Long Run (1979) album was the band's last before breaking up in 1980. It was also the first record to feature bassist/singer Timothy B. Schmidt, previously best known for his work with Poco. Schmidt co-wrote this soulful, adult-contemporary hit (reached No. 8 on Billboard's Hot 100) with Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Schmidt also sang lead. It's no doubt the one song most associated with Schmidt's work as a member of the Eagles.
We know that Seinfeld's Elaine Benes (Julia Louis Dreyfus) is a big fan of this popular cut from the Eagles' self-titled debut record from 1972. Founding band member Bernie Leaden co-wrote the song with Don Henley. It might not have been completely country rock, like a lot of the Eagles' early work, but is a more soul-tinged tune that reached No. 9 on Billboard's Hot 100. "Witchy Woman" has an almost Santana-vibe, and lives on as a classic rock staple.
On the Eagles' second studio album, Desperado (1973), Don Henley and Glenn Frey began collaborating when it came to writing songs. "Tequila Sunrise" was one of the first songs to come out of the joint effort between two of the great singer-songwriters in music history. Though the track never cracked the top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100, it's the epitome of country rock. A story song and one of Frey's great efforts to his vocal legacy.
The first representation from 1976's Hotel California. The 26-time platinum-selling album was nominated for a Grammy Award and went No. 1 in six countries. "Wasted Time" is a Don Henley-Glenn Henley deep cut, piano-paced, and beautifully composed. It might not be on the radar of casual Eagles fans, but it's a gem nonetheless. It's also one of Henley's best vocal performances with the band.
Another track from Desperado. "Outlaw Man" could be considered a somewhat Eagles' deep cut since it only reached No. 59 on the Hot 100 chart. The song no doubt fits the overall "outlaw" theme of Desperado, which music critics and fans of the band can go back and forth regarding its classification as a true concept album. Regardless, "Outlaw Man" is a solid rock record and one of the heavier songs in the Eagles' stellar overall body of work.
The title track from the Eagles' 1975 fourth studio album, which was the first by the band to reach No. 1 on Billboard's Album chart, became its second single to reach the top of the Hot 100. The album version is nearly five minutes, the beginning of a trend of somewhat longer songs released by the group. The harmonization between Don Henley and Randy Meisner is pretty special, while Don Felder's bluesy and "dirty" guitar performance might be the highlight of the track.
From On the Border album, "Best of My Love" was the first Eagles song to top Billboard's Hot 100 chart. It was one of several Eagles tunes that also enjoyed adult contemporary success, transitioning the group's material to a wider listening base. Don Henley and Glenn Frey co-wrote the hit with J.D. Souther. According to To The Limit: The Untold Story Of The Eagles, the lyrics were inspired by Henley's breakup for a girlfriend at the time.
Singer-songwriter Jack Tempchin was part of a group of Southern California musicians in the early 1970s that included Glenn Frey, J.D. Souther, and Jackson Browne. When Frey heard Tempchin's "Peaceful Easy Feeling," he was given the opportunity to play around with it and turned the song into one of the Eagles' most popular works. Off the band's debut album, "Peaceful Easy Feeling" hit No. 22 on the Hot 100 and remained a live favorite for years.
The title cut from the 1979 album, is a bluesy, rock tune with Don Henley on lead vocals, that, like "I Can't Tell You Why," made it up to No. 8 on the Hot 100 chart. As mentioned, the Eagles collectively flaunted their musical influences. Rhythm and blues was certainly a celebrated genre within the confines of the band, and seriously displayed through this track -- and throughout The Long Run album, for that matter. The double lead guitar work from Don Felder and Joe Walsh is particularly notable.
The Side Two opener from One of These Nights, "Lyin' Eyes" reached No. 2 on the Hot 100. This song about infidelity also enjoyed solid success with country listeners -- hitting No. 8 on the Billboard Country chart. Over the years, "Lyin' Eyes" has been celebrated as one of those tunes that truly exemplified the overall sound of the Eagles. In this case, a more melodic side of the band's country-rock greatness.
"New Kid in Town" got the Hotel California ball rolling as the lead single off one of the best-selling albums of all time. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was a complete band effort from start to finish. Glenn Frey sang lead with Don Henley providing the harmonies. Newcomer Joe Walsh delivered a strong performance on the electric piano while Randy Meisner displayed his prowess for the guitarrón Mexicano (aka "big Mexican guitar). Don Felder, meanwhile, was at his usual best on lead guitar.
One year after Tom Waits released this track on his 1973 debut album, the Eagles recorded it for On the Border. Waits, reportedly, was not a fan of the Eagles version, and according to Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters, said: "I don’t like the Eagles. They’re about as exciting as watching paint dry. Their albums are good for keeping the dust off your turntable and that’s about all." As far as mainstream popularity, however, the Eagles' cover remains more recognized than Waits' solid original.
Joe Walsh reportedly came up with the famed riff, and "Life in the Fast Lane" was born. Another stellar moment from the Hotel California album, one of the band's most recognizable tracks made it up to No. 11 on the Hot 100. The co-lead attack of Walsh (who often played it when touring solo) and Don Felder is just one of the notable guitar moments that can be found on Hotel California. It's just straight-up rock and roll at its finest.
Eagles Live (1980) is one of the great live recordings of all time, and this track is a major reason why. The band's rendition of Steve Young's "Seven Bridges Road" is arguably the most widely recognized performance of the bluegrass, acoustical track. The Eagles' five-part harmonic version is what truly makes it special, and good enough to crack the top 25 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. It would be the last Eagles last top-40 hit until "Get Over It."
The B-side to "Life in the Fast Lane," it's the beautiful finale to Hotel California. When we've got it good, we tend to throw it all the way. At least that's the way Don Henley sings it. Glenn Frey's piano work and Den Felder's steel guitar stand out as memorable moments of the piece. "The Last Resort" might not have drawn the fanfare as other tracks from Hotel California, but it remains a gem in the band's catalog and one of the more underrated closing tracks in rock history.
This is the last Eagles song that made it to No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart. Off The Long Run, "Heartache Tonight" also earned a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The song originated as a jam between Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther. Later, Bob Seger helped complete a tune -- and also provided backup vocals -- that Frey described, on the Very Best of the Eagles, as a "romp." It remains one of the most popular songs in the band's catalog.
The second single from On the Border, this homage to the rebelliously attractive film star from the 1950s -- also co-written by Jackson Browne and J.D. Souther -- never came close to cracking the top 40 in the United States. However, this high-energy rocker is one Eagles record that should be celebrated more than it was upon release -- and certainly over the decades. Bernie Leadon's lead guitar work is also worth talking about.
Perhaps everyday classic rock fans don't realize that "Desperado" was never released as a single by the band. It did not matter, it became one of the Eagles' signature songs and is played on classic rock regular or satellite radio for what seems like an hourly basis. It was a product of those early days when Don Henley and Glenn Frey began writing songs together. It's also the obsession of Elaine Benes' boyfriend Brett (James Patrick Stuart) during "The Checks" episode of Seinfeld.
This is really a Joe Walsh solo piece (co-written by renowned composer Barry De Vorzon), that was originally part of The Warriors (1979) soundtrack. The track was then re-recorded with his Eagles bandmates and included on The Long Run album. The song gained new life with its inclusion on the Hell Freezes Over release and remained a live staple from that point on. It's one of Walsh's most underrated tunes, and by association, that of the Eagles. A great rock record that allows Walsh's overall talent to shine.
Country rock at its finest. It's as simple as that. The first single from On the Border is one of the true rock classics, even though it peaked at No. 32 on the Hot 100. "Already Gone" is another Jack Tempchin creation, and co-written by Robb Strandlund, that the Eagles thought would be a good idea to record. The band was right. Not only did Glenn Frey sing lead, but his co-soloing guitar work with Don Felder are some of the best individual moments in Eagles history.
Arguably the defining musical moment of Randy Meisner's time with the Eagles. He co-wrote the hazy, moderate-tempo single from One of These Nights with Don Henley and Glenn Frey, and notably sang lead on one of the band's most popular songs. The track peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot 100 and is another example of the versatility and individual talent that comprised the band during those glory years of the 1970s.
This was the music world's introduction to the country-rock, harmony-driven stylings of the Eagles. From there, the group was off and running. The rather whimsical "Take it Easy," co-written by Glenn Frey and good buddy Jackson Browne, is the lead track off the band's impressive debut album. It reached No. 12 on Billboard's Hot 100, is considered one of the great rock songs of all-time by Rolling Stone, and drew plenty of attention to the once-sleepy town of Winslow, Arizona.
Not only is this the defining moment of the Eagles' musical legacy, but it's also one of the most popular songs of all time. California, Hollywood, the coast, it's wonderful and dreadful at the same time. The Grammy Award winner for Record of the Year topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and proved, at the time, that the band was getting better with age. Don Felder wrote the music (that unforgettable intro), while Don Henley and Glenn Frey combined for the memorable and, rather, dark lyrics. For as good as the studio version is, Hotel California seems at its best (the Felder and Joe Walsh guitar solos) when played live. Regardless of the version, just sit back and soak it all in.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.