Music

'Desperado': The Story Behind The Eagles' Country-Western Heartbreaker

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"Desperado," written by Glenn Frey and Don Henley, was one of the Eagles' greatest hits and was the title track of their 1973 album. The 'Desperado' lyrics suggest the song is about a lonely cowboy who refuses to fall in love, but some say the song is about a young man who finds a guitar and joins a band.

The Eagles were riding the high of their first album after their singles 'Take It Easy," "Witchy Woman," and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" had given them all of the commercial success they could have ever dreamed of.

When approaching Desperado, the pressure was on to create a project just as successful as its predecessor. The band decided to make a concept record loosely built around the idea of cowboys, outlaws, and the wild west -- specifically the Dalton Gang, a group of outlaws led by three brothers from the 19th century. With songs like "Doolin-Dalton" and "Tequila Sunrise," the album was chock-full of moody murder ballads and slow country songs.

The band recorded the sophomore album at Island Studios in London, England, with the London Philharmonics Orchestra. Henley, who sang lead vocals on the song, was unnerved with the Orchestra sitting directly behind him and playing chess in between takes. In an interview with Howard Stern, Henley said he heard one of the orchestra players mutter, "I don't feel like a desperado," which was discouraging at the moment to the band.

While initially this album did not take off, missing the Top 40 by a hair, Desperado eventually went platinum.

"Desperado" has been recorded and released by names like Johnny Rodriguez, the Carpenters, Clint Black, Linda Ronstadt and Kenny Rogers.

 

'Desperado' Lyrics:

Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
You've been out ridin' fences for so long now
Oh, you're a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin' you
Can hurt you somehow

Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She'll beat you if she's able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet
Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can't get

Desperado, oh, you ain't gettin' no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they're drivin' you home
And freedom, oh freedom well, that's just some people talkin'
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

Don't your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine
It's hard to tell the night time from the day
You're losin' all your highs and lows
Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away?

Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you
(Let somebody love you)
You better let somebody love you before it's too late

 

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'Desperado': The Story Behind The Eagles' Country-Western Heartbreaker