After sharing a dozen of Don Henley’s top Eagles tracks - and if you didn’t read our “Best of the Nest” piece, it’s not too late! - it's only fair so spend some time focusing on Glenn Frey’s greatest contributions to the Eagles catalog, and by gum, we are here to make that happen!
“Take It Easy” (from Eagles, 1972): Frey famously co-wrote this track with Jackson Browne, who’d begun composing the song in 1971 for his own debut album but couldn’t seem to bring it home to completion. Frey, who was one of Browne’s neighbors at the time, liked what he’d heard of the song and asked about its whereabouts, and Browne admitted that he hadn’t been able to come up with a line to follow “Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.” In response, Frey offered up “It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me,” and a songwriting collaboration was born.
“Chug All Night” (from Eagles, 1972): One of the Eagles’ early full-throttle rockers, and one with a premise that certainly lends itself to being played in a set by a band that’s gigging their way through a myriad of beer joints while trying to make a name for themselves.
“Out of Control” (from Desperado, 1973): Co-written by Frey, Henley, and Tom Nixon, this is arguably the hardest-rocking track on the album...like, to the point where one might reasonably argue that it almost sounds like it should’ve been on a different album! Not that we’re complaining, mind you...
“Tequila Sunrise” (from Desperado, 1973): This was one of the first two songs Frey and Don Henley ever wrote together, with the other being “Desperado.” The original intent was to create a themed album comparing the life of a cowboy to the life of a musician, with this track serving as an example of the transient nature of the job.
“James Dean” (from On the Border, 1974): As you’d suspect from the title, this is indeed a track about the actor, who famously died at age 24 when he wracked his Porsche Spyder 550. Despite pointedly playing up Dean’s oft-cited “live fast, die young” reputation, it was strictly a case of bad luck that led to his demise in that accident: he wasn’t even speeding, and neither his passenger nor the driver of the other car were killed. Alas, Dean was the only casualty.
“Good Day in Hell” (from On the Border, 1974): Written by Frey as a tribute to Gram Parsons and Danny Whitten, who’d died in 1973 and 1972, respectively, Henley proudly described his bandmate’s tune as one of the Eagles’ “running commentaries on the perils of the music business and the lifestyle that often comes with it.”
“Lyin’ Eyes” (from One of These Nights, 1975): In an interview on the Hell Freezes Over DVD, Frey said that this song came about when the band was drinking at their favorite haunt (Dan Tana’s) and spotted a hot young girl with a much older rich, fat guy, and Frey said with a laugh, “Look at her, she can’t even hide those lyin’ eyes!” On the other hand, Henley said in an interview for the History of the Eagles documentary that the song “was all about these girls that would come down to Dan Tana’s looking beautiful. They’d be there from eight o’clock until midnight having drinks with all us rockers, then they’d go home because they were kept women.” Whichever interpretation is the right one, one thing’s for certain: the song definitely had its origins at Dan Tana’s!
“After the Thrill is Gone” (from One of These Nights, 1975): Ostensibly inspired as a sort of semi-sequel to B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone,” Henley - who co-wrote the track said in the liner notes to The Very Best of Eagles, “As exciting as the whole Eagles thing was at times, some of the luster was beginning to wear off [when we wrote this tune.] We were combining our personal and professional lives in song."
“New Kid in Town” (from Hotel California, 1976): This is one of those tracks that means exactly what you probably think it means, which is to say that it’s about up-and-comers, the ones destined to take over from the current crop at some point. That's the story of life,” explained co-writer J.D. Souther in an interview with Songfacts. “That's the story of aging, especially coming out of your teenage and young man years and as you approach 30, you begin to see that things don't stay the same forever. And that there's a lot other guys like you and gals like you that want the same thing that are coming up, and they want their moment, too, and they're going to get it. And it's fine. It's as it should be."
“Heartache Tonight” (from The Long Run, 1979): You might or might not be able to guess from listening to the song, but it certainly shouldn’t surprise you to discover that one of the co-writers of this track was Bob Seger. Frey and Seger came up together in Detroit, with Seger taking Frey under his wing and helping him get his career moving in the right direction. As far as what Seger brought to this track, fellow co-writer J.D. Souther answered that question in that same interview with Songfacts: “
"We didn't get to a chorus that we liked within the first few days, and I think Glenn was on the phone with Seger, and he said, 'I wanna run something by you,' and sang it to him, and Seger just came right in with the chorus, just sang it and it was so good. Glen called me and said, 'Is four writers okay on this?' And I said, 'Sure, if it's good.' And he said, 'Yeah, it's great. Seger just sang this to me,' and he sang it to me and I said, 'That's fantastic.'"