You’re probably thinking, “How is it possible there are some Eagles songs that I haven’t heard?” This is a band that sold albums in record-setting numbers before they even released what most consider their masterpiece, 1976’s Hotel California. Not to mention the fact that they only released seven albums in their time together, mostly due to a protracted separation that cost them the entirety of the 1980s. Nonetheless, the hits are so beloved that it’s quite possible that even people who think they know the Eagles don’t quite know the Eagles, especially the following ten lesser-known songs. They probably could have been hits, had they only been given the chance.
1. “Most of Us Are Sad” (1972)
In the beginning, the Eagles were blessed with four lead singers, something that you could certainly call an “uptown problem.” It would eventually cause some rancor when there weren’t enough lead microphones to go around, but, on the self-titled album, they divvied up the material nicely. On this melancholy beauty written by Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner takes the lead and wrings every last bit of feeling from the downbeat melody. It’s an early test run for the magic Meisner would one day bring to “Take It to the Limit.”
2. “Saturday Night” (1973)
Critics get on the Eagles for playing “rock stars as Old West outlaws,” which the band perpetrated on Desperado. To be fair, in 1973 that soon-to-be-cliche’ wasn’t quite as played out as it would eventually become. What is fair to say is that this was a point in their career where the band was far more sure-footed on the slow ones than on the uptempo material. It shows on this beauty of a waltz, sung to the hilt by Don Henley and gilded by Bernie Leadon’s mandolin work.
3. “My Man” (1974)
On the Border is the most underrated of Eagles albums. It didn’t have as many hits as its follow-up (One of These Nights) or the concept trappings of its predecessor (Desperado), but the variety is impressive and each stylistic turn is handled adeptly. Bernie Leadon’s finest moment as an Eagle is also featured on this album, as he penned and sung this tribute to his former bandmate Gram Parsons. When those harmonies fill up that bittersweet chorus, you might just feel like Parsons’ “Hickory Wind” is at your back.
4. “On the Border” (1974)
The band slowly began to look out at the modern world on On the Border, and the title track is subtle evidence of that. Although it’s a little difficult to spot the influence of Watergate on this track as the band claimed (besides Frey’s closing utterance of “Say goodnight, Dick”), there is definitely a sense of the narrator being aware of bigger forces hemming in his every move. The band nails a kind of rock-funk hybrid thanks to Henley’s drumming, and the vocal interplay keeps it light and fun.
5. “Hollywood Waltz” (1975)
Nobody in rock and roll did three-quarter time quite as smoothly as The Eagles, in part because the waltz lends itself to a kind of wistfulness that was always one of the band’s strong suits. Tom Leadon, of Mudcrutch fame, got a co-writing credit on this one, while his brother Bernies carries a lot of the musical load on pedal steel and mandolin. Henley gives one of his effortlessly soulful performances on this lovely, empathetic character sketch.
6. “Pretty Maids All in a Row” (1976)
Hotel California is as well-known a rock album as there is in the world, so suggesting that any of the nine songs are underheard might be a stretch. Even after you consider the hit singles, “Victim Of Love,” “Wasted Time” and “The Last Resort” have become classics in their own right. But this track, written (with Joe Vitale) and performed with deep feeling by new group member Joe Walsh, could stand some more recognition. The good-time vibes Walsh put forth in his solo career are backgrounded here in favor of some very Eagles-y introspection.
7. “The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks” (1979)
The Long Run was the Eagles’ Let It Be, the album that began with high ambition, but eventually exposed the fissures between group members. As for the material on it, much of it betrays the strain and effort it took to bring it to fruition. This thumping, refreshingly silly two-minute slab of garage rock about the tawdry side of academia steers clear of all that. Sometimes all it takes is some sloppy dancing and vomit on the floor to lighten things up.
8. “The Girl From Yesterday” (1994)
When the Eagles went on their elongated hiatus, Glenn Frey chose Jack Tempchin, who penned Eagles classics “Already Gone” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” as his main collaborator. The two churned out a bunch of hit singles for Frey in the ‘80s and then connected on this country weeper for the band’s Hell Freezes Over release. Frey is absolutely in his wheelhouse on lead vocal, Henley lends soaring high harmonies, and Walsh and Don Felder lend restrained but on-point guitar accompaniment. Basically everything in its right place.
9. “How Long” (2007)
When The Eagles made their first album proper in 28 years with Long Road Out Of Eden, they reunited with many of the collaborators who were with them in the glory years. That’s why it was a perfect choice to choose this as the first single, considering it was originally written way back in the early ‘70s by JD Souther, co-writer of smashes like “The Best of My Love” and “New Kid in Town.” Even this far down the line, the band slips back into country-rocking, “Take It Easy” mode as if they had never left it behind.
10. “It’s Your World Now” (2007)
This track was written by Frey and Tempchin with the intent of it being a message a father might give to a daughter preparing to leave home. But it’s taken on new meaning over the years. As the last song on the last album by the band, those mariachi horns sound like they’re playing the group off into the sunset. And, in the wake of Frey’s passing, it’s impossible to hear him singing the words, “It’s your world now / Use well your time / Be part of something good / Leave something good behind” without getting emotional.
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