10 favorite Eagles songs to get in the mood for Sunday’s concert
“The show must go on” is a tried-and-true entertainment mantra. So it is that many bands keep on touring and playing even after the departure of key members.
The Eagles certainly have fit into that category for decades now — carrying on after multiple key lineup changes. The group’s current tour, however, feels totally different.
One of the reasons the Eagles have been successful despite those changes, however, is because the band’s two key founding members were still at the helm. Glenn Frey and Don Henley — who developed a musical chemistry while working as members of Linda Ronstadt’s backing band back in the 1970s — co-founded the Eagles, and went on to become the group’s principal songwriters, vocalists, frontmen and power brokers.
That all changed when Frey died on Jan. 18, 2016. It was presumed, via band interviews and otherwise, that Frey’s death would effectively mark the end of the Eagles, with his absence proving too much to overcome. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, however, the band regrouped with Deacon Frey, Glenn’s son, taking over for his father and with the addition of country star Vince Gill rounding things out along with Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit.
The new-look lineup hits Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Sunday at 8 p.m. in a show that was rescheduled from earlier in the month due to Henley being ill.
Fans can expect a night laden with hits that defined the L.A. sound during the 1970s and ‘80s, with songs like “Take It Easy,” “One of These Nights,” “Witchy Woman,” “Best of My Love,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Take It to the Limit,” “Desperado,” “Hotel California,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “Heartache Tonight” and “I Can’t Tell You Why,” along with several songs from Walsh’s solo career before he joined the Eagles, such as “Funk #49,” “Rocky Mountain Way” and “Life’s Been Good.”
In honor of the Eagles’ upcoming performance, here is a quick look at my personal 10 favorite Eagles songs. I tend to like things a bit on the rockier side, so some of the band’s best-known ballads may not be represented here. I actually wrote up my top five selections back in 2014 for the “History of the Eagles” tour. A lot has happened since then, and it seems like an expansion is definitely in order.
10. “The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks”
This song kind of slipped through the cracks of Eagles fandom, but it’s just so freaking catchy that I consider it one of my favorite moments from “The Long Run” album. It clocks in at just a tad under 2 minutes, 30 seconds, but its frat-boy party anthem sound and theme are irresistibly unavoidable.
9. “Those Shoes”
This song off “The Long Run” features a killer groove throughout, moody Don Henley vocals and some especially tasty guitar work by guitarists Don Felder and Joe Walsh. The real star of this song, however, is the double talkbox interplay between Walsh and Felder.
8. “Victim of Love”
This guitar-driven tune provided a bit of behind-the-scenes drama on the “Hotel California” album, based over who would sing the lead vocal. It was supposed to be Felder, but Henley cut a lead version one night while the band’s manager took Felder out to dinner. Henley’s version won out. It’s hard to argue with the decision, as Henley possesses one of the great lead voices in rock.
7. “Life in the Fast Lane”
Walsh, who had just joined the band after replacing founding member Bernie Leadon, made his biggest impact on the “Hotel California” album by supplying the lead guitar riff for this song, which became one of the record’s hit singles. Walsh came up with the riff while warming up one day. The band loved it and then wrote a song around it. The lyrics tapped perfectly into the L.A. lifestyle at the time.
5. “King of Hollywood”
Talk about a song written ahead of its time — this one was recorded about 39 years before the news cycle caught up to it. It’s uncanny how this song could have been written about the likes of Harvey Weinstein and other disgraced Hollywood icons who since have woken up on the wrong side of the #MeToo casting couch. The throbbing pulse of the tune pulls you in, and one can’t help but despise the fictional main character in the storyline. The guitar solo is both soaring and sublime. And the song includes what could be my favorite Eagles lyric line of all time: “Just another silk-scarf monkey.”
5. “Take It Easy”
Oddly, as detailed in “The History of the Eagles” documentary, guitarist Frey helped neighbor Jackson Browne — who lived in the apartment below — finish off this song after hearing him practicing it over and over and over again trying to come up with some key lines. Frey provided those lines, got a co-writing credit for his efforts and it went on to become the Eagles’ first single in 1972. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ironically, this epic ballad did not become a hit when the album of the same name (the Eagles’ second studio album) was released in 1973. The song didn’t get legs until Linda Ronstadt charted it later that year. It also appeared as a central plot theme in a 1997 “Seinfeld” episode, along with “Witchy Woman” (or as the character Elaine Benes pronounced it — “Witchay Woman”), adding to its cachet.
3. “Witchy Woman”
The first song I remember hearing by the Eagles, and it remains an invigorating listen to this day. Some great guitar work on this song by co-writer Leadon, and Henley really paints a picture with his lyrics and vocals.
2. “The Last Resort”
This epic tale of mankind’s penchant for finding paradise and then destroying it is the closing song on the “Hotel California” album. Many Eagles fans consider this the band’s greatest composition. Perhaps Henley’s finest vocal ever — which is really saying something.
1. “Hotel California”
One of the most iconic rock songs in history, what Eagles fan has not taken a thousand trips down a dark, desert highway over a lifetime of music listening? Great tune, great Henley lyrics and vocals, and an other-worldly guitar solo duel between Felder and Walsh taking the song to its conclusion. Listening to the Eagles is an experience much like the closing lyric in this song: “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.”