The Eagles are easily one of the most legendary rock bands of all time. As a result, the band’s best songs of all time are a hotly debated subject. To be fair, they have so many hit songs that a top 10 list is extremely difficult to rank. However, below are my 10 favorite Eagles songs ranked in order. Of course, I have favorites that didn’t fit into the list.
Nevertheless, this isn’t a one-stop resource to the band, but perhaps a jumping-off point to begin your own listening journey or revisit old favorites of yours. I hope you enjoy the following ranked guide to the 10 best Eagles songs of all time.
10. Lyin’ Eyes
“Lyin’ Eyes” was the second single from the Eagles album One of These Nights, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 8 on the Billboard Country chart. The song remained their only top 40 country hit until “How Long” in 2007–2008.
The title and idea for the song came when Glenn Frey and Don Henley were in their favorite Los Angeles restaurant/bar Dan Tana’s which was frequented by many beautiful women, and they started talking about beautiful women who were cheating on their husbands.
They saw a beautiful young woman with a fat and much older wealthy man, and Frey said: “She can’t even hide those lyin’ eyes.”
According to Henley, Frey was the main writer of the song, although he had some input with the verses and the music.
9. The Long Run
“The Long Run” was written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey. It was the title track of the Eagles’ excellent album The Long Run and was released as a single in November 1979. The song reached No. 8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in early 1980.
According to Henley, “The Long Run” was written in part as a response to press articles that said the Eagles were “passé” as disco was then dominant and punk emerging, inspiring lines such as “Who is gonna make it/ We’ll find out in the long run”.
Henley also said that irony was part of the inspiration, as the song is about longevity and posterity while the group “was breaking apart, imploding under the pressure of trying to deliver a worthy follow-up to Hotel California“.
8. Tequila Sunrise
“Tequila Sunrise” was written by Henley and Frey in 1973. According to Frey, the song was finished fairly quickly. He said he was lying on a couch playing the guitar, and came up with a guitar riff he described as “kinda Roy Orbison, kinda Mexican”.
He showed Henley this guitar riff and said: “Maybe we should write something to this.” The title refers to a cocktail named Tequila Sunrise that was then popular.
According to Billboard, the theme of the song is ” one man’s efforts at survival and having to take ‘a shot of courage.'”
Henley said that Frey came up with changes for the bridge, and that “take another shot of courage” refers to tequila because they used to call it “instant courage.”
He said: “We very much wanted to talk to the ladies, but we often didn’t have the nerve, so we’d drink a couple of shots and suddenly it was, “Howdy, ma’am.””
Desperado follows immediately after Tequila Sunrise on the Desperado album. In 1972, after they had recorded their first album Eagles in London, Glenn Frey and Henley decided that they should write songs together, and within a day or two after returning from London, they wrote “Desperado.” “Tequila Sunrise” was also written in the first week of their collaboration.
In their first songwriting session at Henley’s home in Laurel Canyon, Henley played Frey the unfinished version of the song, and said: “When I play it and sing it, I think of Ray Charles and Stephen Foster. It’s really a Southern Gothic thing, but we can easily make it more Western.”
According to Henley, Frey “leapt right on it – filled in the blanks and brought structure”, and the song became “Desperado”. Henley added: “And that was the beginning of our songwriting partnership … that’s when we became a team.”
6. Take It To The Limit
“Take It To The Limit” was written by Eagles members Randy Meisner, Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Meisner’s performance of the song was popular with the audience in Eagles concerts, but disputes over his reluctance to perform it later directly lead to Meisner’s departure from the band.
Meisner wrote the first few lines of the song one night while playing an acoustic guitar after returning from the Troubadour; however he was not able to finish the song by the time they were close to recording it, so Frey and Henley then helped him with the lyrics.
Meisner later said of how he would usually write songs with the Eagles: “I’d get a verse or two, and I’m done, and they would help fill in the blanks”
On the meaning of the song, Meisner said:
“The line ‘take it to the limit’ was to keep trying before you reach a point in your life where you feel you’ve done everything and seen everything, sort of feeling, you know, part of getting old. And just to take it to the limit one more time, like every day just keep, you know, punching away at it … That was the line, and from there the song took a different course.”
5. Take It Easy
“Take It Easy” was, written by Jackson Browne and Eagles band member Glenn Frey, who also provides lead vocals. It was the band’s first single, released on May 1, 1972.
It peaked at No. 12 on the July 22, 1972, Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also was the opening track on the band’s debut album Eagles and it has become one of their signature songs, included on all of their live and compilation albums.
The song is listed as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
4. Peaceful Easy Feeling
“Peaceful Easy Feeling” was written by Jack Tempchin. It was the third single from the band’s 1972 debut album Eagles.
The single reached No. 22 on the charts and is one of the band’s most popular songs.
Glenn Frey sings the lead vocal, with Bernie Leadon providing the main harmony vocal (starting in the beginning of the second verse) and Randy Meisner completing this three-part harmony.
Billboard described the song as “a pop-flavored progressive country effort with lyrics that penetrate and stick in the mind.”
3. One of These Nights
“One of These Nights” is the title track from the Eagles One of These Nights album. Tthe song became their second single to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart after “Best of My Love” and also helped propel the album to number one.
The single version was shortened from the album version of the song, removing most of the song’s intro and most of its fade-out, as well.
Henley is lead vocalist on the verses, while Randy Meisner sings high harmony on the refrain.
The song features a guitar solo by Don Felder that is “composed of blues-based licks and sustained string bends using an unusually meaty distortion tone.”
The song was a conscious attempt by the band to write something different from a country-rock and ballad-type song
2. Life In the Fast Lane
“Life in the Fast Lane” was written by Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey and Don Henley, and recorded on the 1976 studio album Hotel California.
It was the third single released from this album and peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song tells the story of a couple who take their excessive lifestyle to the edge.
On In the Studio with Redbeard, Glenn Frey revealed that the title came to him one day when he was riding on the freeway with a drug dealer known as “The Count”.
1. Hotel California
“Hotel California” is the title track from the Eagles’ album of the same name and was released as a single in February 1977.Writing credits for the song are shared by Don Felder (music), Don Henley, and Glenn Frey (lyrics).
Joe Walsh came up with the dual-guitar descending arpeggio part that ends the song: he didn’t, however, get writing credits.
The Eagles’ original recording of the song features Henley singing the lead vocals and concludes with an extended section of electric guitar interplay between Felder and Walsh.
The song is considered the most famous recording by the band, and in 1998 its long guitar coda was voted the best guitar solo of all time by readers of Guitarist.
The Eagles have performed “Hotel California” 1,038 times live, the third most out of all their songs, after “Desperado” and “Take it Easy”.