Song of the Day #2,976: ‘Desperado’ – Eagles

eagles_desperadoA year after their successful debut album, the Eagles released the concept album Desperado, intent on being taken more seriously as artists.

Initially conceived as an album about anti-heroes, the album turned the Wild West into a metaphor for the rock music industry and society as a whole. Or at least that was the idea. Even the band members admit that the concept was half-baked. As Don Henley put it, “The metaphor was probably a little bullshit. We were in L.A. staying up all night, smoking dope, living the California life, and I suppose we thought it was as radical as cowboys in the old West.”

After being largely sidelined on the debut album, Henley took a lead songwriting role on Desperado, usually pairing up with Glenn Frey. They co-wrote the album’s two best-known tracks, ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and the title track, and collaborated on six other tracks.

Despite my aversion to the Eagles, I have always loved the song ‘Desperado.’ It’s a gorgeous ballad for the ages, strained cowboy metaphor and all.

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses
You’ve been out ridin’ fences
For so long now
Oh, you’re a hard one
I know that you’ve got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow

Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet
Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones
That you can’t get

Oh, you ain’t getting no younger
Your pain and your hunger
They’re driving you home
And freedom, oh, freedom
Well that’s just some people talking
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day
And you’re losing all your highs and lows
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes

Why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you
(let somebody love you)
You better let somebody love you
Before it’s too late

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,976: ‘Desperado’ – Eagles

  1. Dana says:

    I had always assumed this song was part of some other album. Anyway, I agree that it’s a beautiful song and it is Exhibit A as to why I am a fan of Don Henley.

  2. Clay says:

    It’s interesting that you contrast Henley and Glenn Frey because they wrote almost all of their songs together, including this one.

    • Dana says:

      You can tell, generally, who the more influential songwriter was on a song, just as you often can with Lennon-McCartney songs. Desperado mirrors a style and tone that Henley continued into his solo career, and Frey did not.

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