Considered to be one of the greatest rock bands of all time, The Eagles became one of the 1970s most definitive rock authorities after they splashed onto the L.A. music scene. Their members’ musical backgrounds were diverse, and that worked in their favor. From folksy country to funk and rock, the group’s body of work is both dynamic and timeless. They outlasted lineup changes, new generations of rockers, and an ever-evolving music industry and have put out massive amounts of number one hits during their tenure.
Take a deep dive with us into the best Eagles songs below.
13. Love Will Keep Us Alive
During The Eagles’ reunion tour in the ‘90s, they needed fresh material. They found it in ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive,’ a soft rock track written by the highly successful songwriting trio of Jim Capaldi, Paul Carrack, and Peter Vale. The romantic rock ballad highlights a contemporary Eagles sound that shows them in a more comfortable position heading into the 21st century, rather than their early days in the ‘70s spent pounding the pavement and helping define an entire generation of rockers. While the reflective pop-tinged effort was never released as a single, that didn’t keep it off the charts. It took the top spot on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart and even scored Grammy nominations. Their success as a group in the ‘90s proved that even after thirty years in the business, they were still a formidable musical influence.
12. Train Leaves Here This Morning
We take things all the way back to the very beginning with ‘Train Leaves Here This Morning.’ Originally written by Bernie Leadon, who was one of the band’s founding members, he actually penned the melancholy tune alongside The Byrds’ singer Gene Clark before The Eagles got their start. The first version, which appears on one of Clark and Leadon’s collaborative albums, is far more rock and roll than The Eagles’ country-fied rendition. When The Eagles added it to their critically acclaimed debut album, Leadon was tackling the emotions of failed marriage, and they decided stripping production down to acoustic-based instrumentation would be more in keeping with the song’s theme.
11. I Can’t Tell You Why
With a soulful groove born from Glenn Frey’s days spent in Detroit, this R&B heavy track was written by band member Timothy Schmit. Though he mostly held down bass for the band, with ‘I Can’t Tell You Why,’ he found himself front and center as the lead vocalist. Only he could hit those high falsetto notes with such poise and determination. A sensual number chronicling an on-and-off again romance, the single scored the group another top 10 hit in 1980.
10. Take It to the Limit
This rare vocal performance by founding Eagles member Randy Meisner became a quick fan-favorite. His fellow bandmates loved ‘Take It To The Limit,’ which Meisner began penning while grappling with aging and wanting to keep pushing as hard as he could to get the most out of life. The band loved it so much that they insisted he begin performing it live as a regular on their set list. Never feeling comfortable as a singer, Meisner reluctantly agreed, but eventually the strain of touring and hitting all those high notes in the song took its toll. He exited the band just before Joe Walsh was brought in as a guitarist. Fans’ love for the tune never waned though, and for a series of “farewell” performances decades later, The Eagles brought Meisner on stage with them to perform the nostalgic track for sold out crowds.
9. Tequila Sunrise
One of The Eagles’ earlier compositions that has remained a fan-favorite through the decades, ‘Tequila Sunrise’ was the product of one of Glenn Frey’s and Don Henley’s first co-writing sessions together. The single appears on their second album, and before that project, the two wrote separately while they recorded their debut album. But when they combined their efforts, they churned out several classic Eagles hits, including this one. With a beachy, South American rhythmic vibe, the easygoing, folksy tune tells the story of a rancher’s fight with a cowboy who’s betrayed him. And the song’s title stands as an impactful metaphor for the liquid courage the rancher needs to survive.
Recommended: Our boozy list of songs with tequila in the lyrics.
8. New Kid in Town
As recording got underway for the band’s historic Hotel California album, a concept began to take shape. Instead of the record consisting of many different songs thrown together, an arch formed with several of the songs representing the group’s transformation from new kids on the block to seasoned veterans. This chart-topping hit was written while dealing with the reality of a new generation of rock stars coming into the frame as pioneering forces like The Eagles’ lineup fought hard and innovated to keep pace. Other songs on the album, like the title track and ‘Life in The Fast Lane,’ deal with their younger days spent as hard-partying, A-list rockers in Hollywood.
A western-themed ballad about an outlaw cowboy who won’t settle down, ‘Desperado’ is one of the group’s most enduring hits that has transcended the rock genre it belongs to. The open-ended, poetic lyrics have taken on many different meanings for listeners over the years. Many look to it for comfort in times of mourning. The country-tinged track definitely contains a sorrowful tone. But for the band, both Frey and Henley wrote it while thinking about how much they had to go through as a band in the music industry. Many of their songs like this one deal with the toxic nature of the entertainment business. The Eagles knew they had a hit on their hands when they recorded it, but they never released the album’s track as a single. Instead, they named the album after the song to get the word out. Their strategy worked. Fans loved the song so much they purchased the entire album, and it became one of their best-selling records early on in the band’s career.
6. Peaceful Easy Feeling
One of the group’s first hits off their debut, self-titled album, ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling’ is one of the few songs in The Eagles’ repertoire they didn’t write. The romantic, homespun tune was penned by coffee-shop troubadour Jack Tempchin. The flower child days of the ‘60s were slowly coming to an end, but Tempchin was a hippie at heart and fell in love with just about every girl he met, and this is at the heart of this folk-country tune. The Eagles struck up a friendship with Tempchin in the early ‘70s when the singer-songwriter moved to L.A. to try and make it in the music industry. The band had only officially been together for just over a week when they heard Tempchin play ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling,’ and worked out a handshake deal to record it.
5. Lyin’ Eyes
The Eagles were mainstays on rock and roll charts throughout the ‘70s, but with ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ they scored a top 10 country hit. Reaching all the way to number 8, the band wrote the laidback, folksy tune while living in Los Angeles. They frequented a bar in Hollywood that catered to a moneyed clientele. The guys were always amazed at the beautiful women they saw who were married to much older, unattractive, but incredibly rich men. They wondered if the young women were truly happy, and one night when they looked at one woman in particular, supposedly Glenn said, “…she can’t even hide those lyin’ eyes.” They scribbled the line down on a napkin, and later won a Grammy for the gentle, introspective hit single it transformed into.
Recommended: Our pick of deviously good cheating songs.
4. Life in the Fast Lane
The band’s fifth album, Hotel California, marked a big change. They brought in Joe Walsh as a lead ax player, and his bluesy background changed The Eagles’ sound a lot, and for the better. Before joining the group, Walsh headed up blues-rock band James Gang, and he brought all that funk and soul with him to his new digs. Appearing on their iconic Hotel California album, ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ is one of their most popular tracks, and it was the first Walsh wrote alongside Henley and Frey. With one of rock’s most distinctive, addicting opening guitar riffs, the rocking tune explores the alluring danger behind relationships built on fiery passion, recklessness, excessive behavior.
3. One of These Nights
In the middle of the ‘70s, The Eagles got especially funky with their sound, and listeners loved it. ‘One of These Nights’ was a huge hit for the band in part because it grooves effortlessly. Don Felder is credited by the group with helping to build on their sound so that they had a bit more grit and funk, instead of just releasing one ballad after another. A song about reaching a point in life where you throw caution to the wind and take a long-awaited chance, the Al-Green-inspired hit is a nod to the R&B music Frey fell in love with from his hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
2. Take It Easy
When Glenn Frey was a budding rocker living in California, his neighbor was none other than rock royalty Jackson Browne. At the time, The Eagles hadn’t even released their first album yet, and Frey was on the hunt for material. One night, he heard Browne working on a tune from inside his apartment. When Frey found out he was having trouble completing it, he offered his help. The tune ended up being one of The Eagles’ most successful singles ever recorded, ‘Take It Easy.’ Inspired by a road trip Jackson once took, Glenn thought it was perfect material for their debut album, and it keenly introduced their future fanbase to what would become their bread-and-butter for some time, the fledgling country-rock genre.
Recommended: Our pick of songs about retirement (where this song also appears.)
1. Hotel California
The Eagles’ trademark track was their funkiest yet when they released it in 1975. The title song to their iconic album Hotel California, the band brilliantly tackled vice and excess with trippy lyrics and dreamlike instrumental work. The song went straight to number one, and won them a Grammy for Record of the Year. But at the awards ceremony, the group was nowhere to be found. Heeding the advice of their highly praised single in regards to avoiding the danger of Hollywood’s “highlife,” they opted out of attending so they could rehearse and get ready for a tour.
Recommended: More songs from the 70s that everyone knows.