From the start, the music of the Eagles was saddled with terms like “country rock” and “laid-back,” as if the band only strummed and harmonized its way through its records. But just as the internal dynamic within the band was never as mellow as their image, neither was their music one-dimensional. Far from it. The group’s back catalog has its share of ballads but also forays into gnarly rock & roll, soul moves, and nods to mainstream country, bluegrass and funk. As Don Henley told Rolling Stone in 2016, “We wanted to create material that would showcase each of the band members’ strengths. … Our main goal, at the beginning, was to write good, memorable songs, make albums that had little or no filler, that were consistent from beginning to end in terms of songwriting and production.”
Just after the third anniversary of the death of Glenn Frey, who died from complications from acute ulcerative colitis, pneumonia and rheumatoid arthritis, we look back at the band’s 40 greatest songs, with the help of past and present band members and collaborators like songwriter JD Souther and producer Bill Szymczyk. Want to find out which songs were inspired by which real-life outlaws or which particular eatery? Which song was about which band member’s romantic turmoil? Which studio indulgence enhanced which track? The enduring appeal of the songs proves the band was truly it in for the long run.