What to talk about with such a well know band leads me to default to my original mission of cover songs. According to Secondhandsongs.com the Eagles have had 36 of their roughly 50 original songs (7 studio albums) covered and they themselves covered 14 songs. As solo artists their ‘originals covered by’/ songs they covered; Don Henley 14/17, Glenn Frey 6/24, Randy Meisner 2/9, Joe Walsh 6/25 and Timothy B. Schmit 4/5. So that’s a very impressive collective body of work. The “Eagles”, formed in 1971 as most will know out of Frey and Henley backing Linda Ronstadt, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner (among others) would later join and appear (live only once) and also on her Album, “Linda Ronstadt“. With Ronstadt’s blessing and support the four ventured out alone and shortly thereafter made a sojourn into the Mojave Desert, much peyote and tequila later they emerged the “Eagles”. They of course could have had a couple shots and simply walked outside and looked in a tree but hey where’s the fun in that?
Over time rifts were created and members have left, with the untimely passing of Glenn Frey and new ones added, they’re heading to New Zealand to continue their tour again in a few weeks, The current Eagles – Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, with Deacon Frey and Vince Gill, one of the world’s top selling bands will know doubt continue to play to sell-out crowds.
They came to attention with the release of their first single “Take it Easy” written by Glenn Frey and Jackson Brown, which along with “Witchy Woman” written by Don Henley and Bernie Leadon and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” written by Jack Tempchin, were all top 25 hits and included in their debut ‘Eagles’ in 1972. Jackson Brown would soon cover “Take it Easy” (1973).
“Witchy Woman” by Tonic Sol-Fa (2001). “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by Jack Tempchin the songs author.
Their second most covered song at just under 120 versions is “Desperado” written by Glenn Frey and Don Henley (1973). It’s hard to top such a brilliantly done song, but the definitive version even according the the band themselves is from Linda Ronstadt (1973). The themed ‘Outlaw’ album of the same name I think has a relationship (I need to explore) to the emergence of ‘Outlaw Country’ as the terminology albeit not necessarily the music style, dates back to about this same time. Certainly the connection between crime, being ‘wanted’ by the law, villains and the like in song has a very long history. Themed records themselves or the widely defined ‘concept’ album has its roots traceable to at least the 1940’s.
“Hotel California” (1977) written by Don Felder, Glenn Frey and Don Henley. Covered at least 120 times, this title track reached #1 in Canada and the US, top ten around the world and was a multi million seller. One of those “do you remember where you were ?” songs for me, my good friend at the time, Jim had me over to listen to the whole album and I can picture it still. This song; both strange and beautiful with an amazing chord sequence and guitar mastery rightfully won the Grammy for ‘Record of Year’ (1978) and it’s ranked by Rolling Stone at #49 on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, and on the R&R Hall of Fames list of the 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll. As much as thirty years later this song had been downloaded into the millions of times and of late (as much as any music gets actually bought these days) it’s regularly streamed. To say it’s full of metaphors and social commentary states the obvious and this is another song that’s been way over analyzed and distected.
Covers of this song while numerous are not particularly noteworthy as this is a very difficult one to tackle. Versions translated into Spanish, Japanese, Finnish, Italian, German, French and Czech, also a number of instrumentals. Alabama 3, Nancy Sinatra, and the most impressive cover I listened to Passenger (2017).
With such a wealth of original material to choose from, even the most talented can’t resist a good cover. “Ol’ ’55” written by the brilliant Tom Waits (1973) is supremely done in this 1974 version. Also appearing on their ‘Best of’ Compilation is “Midnight Flyer” (1974) written by Paul Craft. Here is the original, ‘Osborne Brothers‘ (1972). Choosing a Bluegrass song was intended to demonstrate their diversity as well as exhibit the brilliant banjo playing of Bernie Leadon.
A playlist of all the videos.
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