Here’s our list of the top 15 Eagles songs, spanning 1972 to 2007.
During the late 1960s all — or at least many — roads led to Southern California, and the Eagles were one of the destinations.
It was not a band formed with modest intentions. Glenn Frey had already sung on a national hit (Bob Seger’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”) when he came west from Detroit, and Don Henley‘s Shiloh had an album produced by Kenny Rogers. They met Bernie Leadon, late of the Flying Burrito Brothers, while all of them played in Linda Ronstadt’s 1970-71 backing band, while Randy Meisner was a veteran of Poco and Ricky Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band. It was a supergroup of sorts, with a universe of great collaborators such as Jackson Browne, JD Souther and Jack Tempchin, and one that certainly flew to super, and superlative, heights.
Over the course of two tenures and seven (mostly multi-platinum) studio albums, the Eagles have sold more than 150 million records worldwide, while Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) has been locked for years in a battle for best-selling album of all time with Michael Jackson‘s Thriller. The accolades run from six Grammy Awards to inductions into the Rock & Roll and Vocal Group Hall of Fames to a Kennedy Center Honor. And more importantly, Eagles are the first name mentioned in any discussion of California or country rock.
Frey’s death in January 2016 could have grounded the Eagles for good, but the group took flight again with Frey’s son Deacon and Vince Gill in place for tour dates that are set to wrap up later this year with The Long Goodbye Tour. (Meisner, who exited the group in 1977, after the previous year’s Hotel California album, died in July 2023 at age 77.)
Here are our choices for the 15 best Eagles song to date.
“Doolin-Dalton” (Desperado, 1973)
The opening track from Eagles’ second album, inspired by the Doolin-Dalton gang in late-19th-century Oklahoma, was a linchpin reprised twice on the Desperado album’s second side, setting up a quasi-concept that was more successful in the individual songs than across the entire body of work.
“Peaceful Easy Feeling” (Eagles, 1972)
Like so many songs in their canon, this Tempchin track is a prototype for what the group does so well: easygoing melodies with rich harmonies and an organic lushness that gets you humming along practically before the first verse is over.
“Seven Bridges Road” (Eagles Live, 1980)
Speaking about what Eagles do so well, this live take of the Steve Young tune is all about the harmonies, executed mostly a cappella and jaw-droppingly tight and smooth.
“Tequila Sunrise” (Desperado, 1973)
One of the first Henley-Frey songwriting collaborations for Eagles, “Tequila Sunrise” is a scene-setter in every sense, although its mellow countenance actually feels more like dusk than dawn.
“Heartache Tonight” (The Long Run, 1979)
Assisted by Bob Seger on both songwriting and uncredited backing vocals, the Grammy Award-winning and Hot 100-topping single from The Long Run has those darn fine harmonies yet again, alongside some hot slide guitar playing by Joe Walsh.
“How Long” (Long Road Out of Eden, 2007)
This latter-day single, from 2007’s Long Road Out of Eden, has a vintage feel, and for good reason: The group actually performed the JD Souther anti-war song live during the ’70s and rediscovered it more than three decades later — and made it sound like no time had passed at all.
“Already Gone” (On the Border, 1974)
The Eagles’ rendition of this Tempchin tune is a hootin’, hollerin’ anthem that gave Frey and then-new member Don Felder plenty of room to let their guitars scream a little bit.
“Best of My Love” (On the Border, 1974)
Far more sugar than saccharine, the Henley-sung ballad gave Eagles its first No. 1 Hot 100 single and has kept listeners swooning, rightfully, for nearly 50 years.
“Lyin’ Eyes” (One of These Nights, 1975)
A little supposition about women cheating on their husbands while Frey and Henley were hanging out at Dan Tana’s in Los Angeles gave birth to this majestic ballad, whose rich chorus harmonies make the lyrical indictment sound like a deceptive pat on the back.
“I Can’t Tell You Why” (The Long Run, 1979)
Timothy B. Schmit’s finest moment is a soulful, moody slow jam whose tension is cut by his pure high tenor and what may be — with apologies to “Hotel California” — the most transportive guitar solo in the Eagles’ repertoire.
“Take It to the Limit” (One of These Nights, 1975)
Give the other bass player some: Randy Meisner shines on this paean to purpose and determination, thrilling with his own brand of jaw-dropping falsetto and an Eagles song — co-written with Henley and Frey — that stands up even without the vocal fireworks.
“Life in the Fast Lane” (Hotel California, 1976)
Eagles’ best out-and-out rocker, bar none, and the finest moment from the Joe Walsh-Don Felder guitar tandem save for, oh, that other one…
“Take It Easy” (Eagles, 1972)
The take-off point, a Frey-Browne collaboration that put a corner in Winslow, Ariz. on the map and made us all long for the kind of “world of trouble” the singer was having.
“Desperado” (Desperado, 1973)
The Henley showcase from the album of the same name boasts a desolate, tumbleweeds-rolling-in-the-sunset ambience that makes a genuinely cinematic impact.
“Hotel California” (Hotel California, 1976)
An unbeatable champion of a song, an aural movie that checks off all the boxes — evocative lyrics, social commentary, surrealistic circumstances and that ferocious guitar jam, which resides comfortably in the pantheon of epics alongside “Stairway to Heaven” and “Free Bird.”