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For over 45 years, the unconventional rock-music of the Eagles has resonated with Americans throughout the country. The band, formed in 1971, was back in Chicago last night for a concert at the United Center. Despite being without co-founder Glenn Frey, who passed away in 2016, the Eagles continue to fill venues and harmonize on vivid lyrics. Whether it was the humble beginnings with “Take it Easy,” the ascension to global stardom with “Hotel California,” or the reunion album The Long Road out of Eden, the Eagles have captivated millions of fans both domestically and around the world. Throughout the years, the Eagles serenaded in song the stories that many of us can relate to. They’ve told the stories of love, loss, the wild west, the outlaws, and the realization of life in the material world.
While they were wildly successful, the Eagles struggled working with one another, which culminated in the band’s termination after completion of The Long Run album in 1980. The Eagles eventually got back together, but they will forever be scarred by some of the rough moments between Glenn Frey, Don Felder, and Don Henley. Despite the issues, the Eagles remain a staple of American and 1970s music. Their first greatest hits album was the best selling album of the twentieth century (a period that featured the likes of Pink Floyd, Elton John, The Beatles, among others).
Unsurprisingly, the Eagles have little influence on the music that younger people enjoy today. However, if you give their tracks a chance, you may find just how much you relate to the music and the lyrics in your own life. Since the band returned to Chicago yet again, I thought I would take the time to share my six favorite ‘back album’ songs. I’m not here to talk about the mainstream “Hotel California,” or the greatest hits album, which ended up being the best selling album of the twentieth century. Instead, I plan on diving deep into the Eagles’ music to bring to light some of the incredible music that wasn’t quite as popularized.
- “Doolin’ Dalton”
The first song on the Desperado album, “Doolin’ Dalton” tells the tale of the wild west’s Dalton Gang. The song mimics the rebellion present in the band in its early days, as co-founders Don Henley and Glenn Frey were mesmerized by the old tales. “Doolin’ Dalton” is unique in the fact that it features four different lead singers: Don Henley, Glenn Frey, J.D. Souther, and Bernie Leadon.
- “Outlaw Man”
Sticking with the 1973 Desperado album we now turn to “Outlaw Man.” This upbeat tale examines the character and lifestyle of the classic American outlaw. In their early stages, the Eagles were seen as an outsider band, and they took that sentiment to heart. The entire Desperado album, for that matter, incorporates ideas of the independence and respect the band was looking for.
- “You Never Cry Like a Lover”
When people talk about the Eagles, nobody ever mentions “You Never Cry Like a Lover.” From the underrated On the Border album, “You Never Cry Like a Lover” combines a unique pace with authoritative vocals from Don Henley. Adding to the dialogue of the music, the song transitions between slow piano and hard guitar rock and roll, which the band was hoping for more of on this album.
- “My Man”
“My Man,” one of the only songs sung by Bernie Leadon, is yet another great song off the On the Border album. This song is written about and dedicated to Leadon’s late friend Gram Parsons, who died from a morphine and alcohol overdose. “My Man” features smooth, consistent acoustic guitar with some great harmonies between the other band members–something the Eagles mastered to perfection.
- “Try And Love Again”
“Try And Love Again” was written and sung by the Eagles’ bassist Randy Meisner. Personally, I thought the band always unutilized Meisner’s singing ability, as he was quite talented with his high, waning voice. Often forgotten on the Hotel California album, “Try and Love Again” tells the story of heartbreak and building the courage to move on in life and with love. Meisner comes up with some witty lyrics and the underlying acoustic and electric guitars create a distinctive back and forth between one another.
- “How Long”
“How Long” is by far my favorite song from the Eagles’ final album, The Long Road Out of Eden. The upbeat song features long, rolling chords by guitarist Joe Walsh and a duet from Frey and Henley, as each exchange lyrics throughout the song. Whenever these two each take lead vocals, the song tends to turn out well and “How Long” is no exception. Unfortunately, Spotify does not carry the Eagles’ version of the song, so we had to add a track by a tribute band. Not my first choice, but oh well.