It would be difficult to talk about 70s rock music without bringing up the Eagles. They crafted a sound that was so pristine that it seemed almost formulaic, and for that they were rewarded with all the fame and adulation that the 70s had to offer.
Frontmen and principal songwriters Glenn Frey and Don Henley initially met in 1971 after being recruited for Linda Ronstadt’s band. The pair got along so well that they decided to start a band together, and the rest is history.
They soon brought in Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, and the four of them played on Rondstadt’s self-titled album and one live show at Disneyland. After that they signed a deal with David Geffen’s then-new label Asylum Records and moved out to Aspen, Colorado to write their first album, 1972’s Eagles.
From there they had a massive run at success, with five number one singles, six number one albums, six Grammys and five American Music Awards. The Eagles left their mark on the landscape of American popular music, and their legacy will be felt for a long time to come.
Still, their seemingly formulaic, vanilla success drew criticism from many, and there certainly exists an entire echelon of people who are strongly in the anti-Eagles camp, including many music critics and famously, fictional character The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
Rest assured, the team here at Extra Chill is a few generations removed from these critics and we can see the Eagles for the feel-good, easy to digest music that it’s meant to be.
See our rankings of the best Eagles songs below.
10. “New Kid In Town” (Hotel California, 1976)
Released as the debut single to the Eagles’ most famous album, Hotel California, “New Kid in Town” is a song about being the hot new thing that is just as easily discarded when the next thing comes along.
The Eagles were at the peak of their career when this song was released, and it seems that Henley and Frey along with frequent collaborator JD Souther were aware that they may soon be forgotten in favor of another exciting artist.
While this didn’t turn out to be completely true, as we’re still listening to the Eagles half a century later, tensions were high in the band in the years that followed. Their next album The Long Run, while certainly a good album, failed to live up to the hype of Hotel California and the band broke up not long after its release.
9. “Life in the Fast Lane” (Hotel California, 1976)
One of the more raucous songs in the Eagles catalogue is “Life in the Fast Lane”, the second single from Hotel California. With a backdrop of upbeat, rollicking guitars, the lyrics tell the story of a couple that is hell-bent on self-destruction.
This song was written not long after guitarist Joe Walsh joined the band, and he received a writing credit for the track thanks to the guitar riff that drives the song. Prior to its use here, it was something he frequently played as a warm-up before shows.
One day, Glenn Frey happened to be walking past his dressing room as he played the riff, and he stopped and demanded Walsh play it again. It then became the basis for one of the biggest hits in the Eagles’ repertoire.
7. “Peaceful Easy Feeling” (Eagles, 1972)
“Peaceful Easy Feeling” off the Eagles’ self-titled debut album is supremely chill, just like the title suggests. The lyrics center themselves around the way one might feel around a new lover that seems great, trusting that they won’t let you down. Even if they did let you down, you don’t have far to go, because your feet are already on the ground.
This one is not written by Frey and Henley but rather by Jack Tempchin, who also co-wrote “Already Gone“ “The Girl From Yesterday“ “Somebody”, “It’s Your World Now”, and several of Glenn Frey’s solo songs.
8. “Tequila Sunrise” (Desperado, 1973)
The twang-infused “Tequila Sunrise” was the lead single from their 1973 album Desperado. Named after the popular cocktail (made even more popular by the Eagles), the song is about drowning your loneliness in tequila every night while your ex-lover runs around with her new man.
Rather than drinking the cocktail named after the song, the lyrics here flip that on its head and refer to being up all night drinking tequila, and when the sun comes up you’ve still got a glass in your hand.
6. “The Long Run” (The Long Run, 1979)
While 1979’s The Long Run may have been the beginning of the end for the Eagles, the album produced a number of excellent songs including title and opening track, “The Long Run”. This is a fantastic song about a love that is strong enough to endure all hardships.
The lyrics suggest that the only way to know if your love is strong enough to make it is to give it a shot, and find out along the way. It’s arranged in such a way that makes it a nod to the Memphis R&B sound, making it a real head-bobber and one of the better songs in the Eagles’ arsenal.
5. “Lyin’ Eyes” (One of These Nights, 1975)
The country-influenced “Lyin’ Eyes” tells the story of a beautiful woman who married a rich older man, because that’s what she thought she wanted from life.
However, the allure of wealth has worn off, and she finds herself longing for the warmth of someone she can relate with. So, she heads out for the “cheatin’ side of town” to find someone who meets her emotional needs.
While she may think she’s been slick, her man has caught on to what she’s doing through the look in her eyes.
The result is a song that allows us to feel both sides of the situation, and recognize that this dreadfully mismatched couple was doomed from the start.
4. “Take It Easy” (Eagles, 1972)
As the opening track on their debut album, “Take It Easy” was one of the signature Eagles songs right from the start.
It also happens to be one of the signature Jackson Browne songs, as he co-wrote the song with Glenn Frey and recorded his own version that was released in 1973.
Browne was also the person responsible for introducing the Eagles to David Geffen, who ended up giving them their record deal.
“Take It Easy” was a group effort that helped bring the Eagles into the spotlight initially, and remains one of their most popular songs to date.
3. “Desperado” (Desperado, 1973)
“Desperado” is the slow-burning title track to the Eagles’ 1973 quasi-concept album of the same name. Depicting an aging cowboy living life on the plains, the lyrics delve into the loneliness of such a life that stems from the pursuit of money rather than the pursuit of love.
Interestingly, while “Desperado” has become one of the most well-known Eagles songs over the years, it never saw release as a single. The power ballad was instead played at nearly every Eagles concert, often as the closing song, and it has earned itself a special place in the heart of fans.
2. “Hotel California” (Hotel California, 1976)
Arguably the single most popular rock song of the 1970s is “Hotel California”, the massively successful title track to the Eagles 1976 magnum opus. The song explores the seedy side of the California lifestyle, of which the Eagles found themselves immersed at the time.
The lyrics speak of a mystical place that is filled with temptation and shady characters, that will first invite you in and then chew you up and spit you out.
And then, of course, we have the famous dual guitar solo from Don Felder and Joe Walsh, lasting over two full minutes to close out the song. The artists were such perfectionists that it reportedly took them two full days to record the solo.
I’d say it paid off, as that has got to be one of the most listened-to and loved guitar solos of all time.
1. “One of These Nights” (One of These Nights, 1975)
While it was tempting to put “Hotel California” at the top of this list for its sheer mass, “One of These Nights” seems to stand the test of time a bit better. As the title track to their 1975 album, “One of These Nights” was the second number one hit that the Eagles had, and in my humble opinion it is the best song that they ever made.
Rather than sticking to the formula of country and blues infused rock music, the Eagles took a different approach with this one and blended it with elements of disco and R&B. This makes it a refreshing piece of their catalogue, bringing some unique elements that are not heard in many of their other songs but are certainly welcome here.