In 1973, the Eagles followed up their mega-successful self-titled debut (released a year earlier) with a concept album inspired by the Old West. Featuring a cover image of the band members in cowboy gear, Desperado must have seemed ripe for ridicule.
But with songwriters Don Henley and Glenn Frey taking center stage, penning eight of the album’s 11 tracks, the songs were just too good to dismiss. While the album failed to sell early on, it eventually reached double platinum status and is considered a seminal album in the country rock genre.
We go from songs about drugs and alcohol to a much nicer topic on Day Nine of the 30 Day Music Challenge. Today’s task is to name ‘A Song That Makes You Happy.’
If you had told me six months ago I’d be choosing an Eagles song for this category, I would have called you crazy. Back then the band would more likely show up under ‘A Song You Think is Overrated’ or ‘A Song By a Popular Band You Dislike’ (those aren’t real categories, as far as I know, but they could be).
I deliberately left the Eagles out of Montauk Madness, but now I feel a little guilty about it.
I’ve always considered myself an Eagles hater, based mostly on my dislike of their signature album, Hotel California. But last September I took a dive into their whole catalog and realized I’m actually quite fond of their earlier, more country-folk songs.
The Eagles waited 28 years after The Long Run to release another studio album. In between they broke up, reunited, had one founding member (Don Felder) leave the band for good, released a popular live album (1994’s 10-million selling Hell Freezes Over) and made a fortune touring on their classic hits.
2007’s Long Road Out of Eden, almost certainly the band’s final original album considering the death of Glenn Frey earlier this year, is a double album that tries to recapture the sound and spirit of the band’s early work. It reached #1 on the charts and sold more than 3 million copies, ensuring that the band didn’t have a commercial miss in its entire career.
After releasing two of the best-selling albums in history, the Eagles took a few years off before recording a follow-up. The Long Run, released late in 1979, produced three hit singles and went 7X platinum in the United States yet was still viewed as a disappointment by most critics.
Those hits — the title track, ‘Heartache Tonight’ and ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ — all reached Billboard’s top ten, with ‘Heartache Tonight’ (featuring Glenn Frey on lead vocals) hitting the top spot.
The Eagles continued their album-per-year streak, releasing the ever-popular Hotel California in 1976. But earlier in the year, the band (or, more appropriately, their record label) put out a greatest hits collection comprised of ten songs from their first four albums.
That album went on to sell more copies than any other release in U.S. history, until finally being surpassed by Michael Jackson’s Thriller — not in the 80s but in 2009 after Jackson’s death. Not bad for ten soft country rock songs. Based on my generally positive response to those first four albums, it seems maybe I should jump on the bandwagon and grab the greatest hits myself.
In 1975, the Eagles released One Of These Nights, their fourth album in as many years. Continuing a trend that started with their second album, Don Henley and Glenn Frey dominated the songwriting on this record, and Henley moved to the forefront as the band’s de facto lead singer.
Founding member Bernie Leadon wasn’t thrilled with the band’s musical direction and quit after touring with this album. Despite the disagreements that bubbled up during the recording, One Of These Nights became the Eagles’ most successful release yet, reaching #1 on the Billboard chart.