The Eagles album Don Henley called “artsy-fartsy”

Don henley

One does not always associate the Eagles with being a complex band. If you’ve only ever listened to “Take It Easy” once, you probably have a basic understanding of the song’s message, which is about riding down the road with the wind in your hair. Don Henley acknowledged that Desperado thought the group was becoming too artistic for its good. However, the whole idea was to avoid making things unduly complicated.

It’s important to examine how the Eagles even came to be the largest band in the world before we discuss their second album. After splitting from Linda Ronstadt’s touring group, the California rockers formed. Their skill as songwriters was already proving itself with singles like ‘Take It Easy’ and ‘Witchy Woman’.

When Henley and Glenn Frey joined forces, something magical had to happen because they had previously written songs separately. When assembling the early demos for Desperado, Frey and Henley initially discussed working together on songs. This led to the creation of epics such as the album’s title track and lovely ballads like “Tequila Sunrise.”

As they began to remove the layers from their writing, a clear pattern became apparent. An old Gunslinger book that their friend Jackson Browne had recently inherited served as the inspiration for each song. The songs focused on people living on the wrong side of the tracks.

If such a few songs were promising, why not record an entire album honoring society’s outlaws? Therefore, the band’s first attempt at a concept was Desperado, with each member penning from the overture of the ‘Doolin Dalton’ gang to Randy Meisner singing their origin story on ‘Certain Kind of Fool’.

The band believed they had created a masterpiece, their producer Glyn Johns was thrilled, and the public detested it to the hilt. Even though their first album had sold well and produced three singles, they fell hard on the charts. This happened when they decided to follow it up with an artistic album.

Henley told Uncut that the record’s anti-commercial aspect was intentional, saying, “We did have success right off the bat.” It was almost like we said, “We don’t want to have another LP with hit singles on it,” in response to our success. We followed it up with this pretentious concept album.

But a steady career doesn’t always come from having hit singles, and for the next few years, they would be attempting to win back the public’s favor. The Eagles wanted to create something much more immediate, like the rock and roll swagger of “Already Gone.” Ronstadt eventually made the song “Desperado” into a hit with her cover version.

The conceptual piece might have been too much for the unprepared band. Hotel California seems to be a well-expressed version of Desperado, with a central theme of losing oneself in Los Angeles’ back alleys. Don Henley and the group were undoubtedly capable of penning catchy anthems better than anyone else. However, they may have tried to run before they could walk on their second outing.

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