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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Eagles Songs

See what song managed to beat “Desperado,” “Take It Easy” and “Take It to the Limit”

the eagles

Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey and Don Henley of The Eagles pose for a group portrait in London in 1973.

Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns/Getty

Unless there's yet another leg waiting to be announced, the Eagles wrapped up their two-year History of the Eagles tour this week with a show at CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, Louisiana. The hugely successful tour saw them presenting their catalog in chronological order, including an opening set with guitarist Bernie Leadon, who hadn't toured with since he left the band in 1975. They played all sorts of songs they hadn't touched in many years, including "Saturday Night," "Doolin-Dalton" and "Train Leaves Here This Morning." In honor of the tour coming to a close, we asked our readers to select their favorite Eagles songs. Here are the results. 

the eagles

Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey and Don Henley of The Eagles pose for a group portrait in London in 1973. (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)

4

“The Last Resort”

"The Last Resort" may have been merely the B-side to "Life in the Fast Line," but Don Henley has always claimed the 1976 epic is one of his best works. "The gist of the song was that when we find something good, we destroy it by our presence — by the very fact that man is the only animal on earth that is capable of destroying his environment," he told Rolling Stone in 1978. "The environment is the reason I got into politics: to try to do something about what I saw as the complete destruction of most of the resources that we have left. We have mortgaged our future for gain and greed."

The song begins in Providence, Rhode Island, and goes all the way across America, wrapping up in the Hawaiian town of Lahaina. Along the way, it chronicles how Americans have exploited and destroyed their own land. "We satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds," Henley sings. "In the name of destiny and the name of God." 

the eagles

Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey and Don Henley of The Eagles pose for a group portrait in London in 1973. (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)

3

“Take It Easy”

A few years before they became two of the most successful rock stars in the world, Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey were two struggling songwriters living in the same Los Angeles apartment building. They were hanging out one day when Browne showed Frey an early sketch of a song he couldn't quite finish. Frey loved what he heard and encouraged him to finish it, ultimately helping him do the job himself. The result was the kick-off song on the Eagles debut album, and their first hit single. It brought country rock to the masses and regardless of how much success they've had since, it remains one of their most beloved tunes. 

the eagles

Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey and Don Henley of The Eagles pose for a group portrait in London in 1973. (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)

2

“Desperado”

The unexpected success of the first Eagles album was rather shocking for the group. "We freaked out," said Don Henley. "So [for our next album] we did Desperado, which we thought was going to be our big artistic statement on the evils of fame and success, with a cowboy metaphor." It's a loose concept album about the Dalton cowboy gang, and the title track is a sad lament about the lonely life out on the trail. It was never released a single, though the group's old friend Linda Ronstadt covered it in 1973 and brought it to a huge audience. It has been performed at every Eagles concert over the past 40 years, often as the very last song of the night. 

the eagles

Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey and Don Henley of The Eagles pose for a group portrait in London in 1973. (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)

1

“Hotel California”

Not many pop songs have had their lyrics analyzed quite like "Hotel California." Every since it came out nearly 40 years ago, fans have obsessed over nearly every line. Is the "steely knives" line a dig at Steely Dan? What exactly is colitas? Is the whole song secretly about the devil? Doesn't Don Henley know that wine isn't technically a spirit? 

Plain Dealer critic John Soeder ran that last one past Don Henley in 2009, and by that point he couldn't hold back his frustration over the constant "Hotel California" questions. "You're not the first to completely misinterpret the lyric and miss the metaphor," he said. "Believe me, I've consumed enough alcoholic beverages in my time to know how they are made and what the proper nomenclature is. But that line in the song has little or nothing to do with alcoholic beverages. It's a sociopolitical statement. My only regret would be having to explain it in detail to you, which would defeat the purpose of using literary devices in songwriting and lower the discussion to some silly and irrelevant argument about chemical processes."

Yikes. We guess it's not easy writing a beloved song that people want to learn more about. The tune began as a Don Felder demo, which was fleshed out into the finished piece by Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Felder remains immensely proud of the tune, though he hasn't had a chance to play it with the Eagles since 2000. Their breakup was so nasty and litigious that Don Henley calls him merely "Mr. Felder" in interviews. Fans would love to see a reunion, but it's almost certainly never going to happen. 

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