The Eagles left an indelible mark on both rock and country music, and their biggest country crossover hit came in the form of their 1975 single, "Lyin' Eyes." The song, which appears on their One of These Nights album, finds Glenn Frey taking lead vocals as he sings about a young woman who married a rich man she doesn't love. The song then goes on to describe the woman's affair with a younger man, but no matter what she does, she can't hide her lying eyes. The single landed at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (behind Elton John's "Island Girl,") No. 3 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and it even became a country hit, landing at No. 8 on the Billboard Country chart. Overall, "Lyin' Eyes" was one of the Eagles most successful songs, but some may not know the tune was originally inspired by a simple observation.
"Lyin' Eyes" was written by Eagles members Glenn Frey and Don Henley, and was inspired after a night at a local Los Angeles bar, Dan Tana's. The men noted that there were many beautiful women at this bar, but when they saw a woman with an "older" man, one of their buddies uttered the famous song title, and the tune was born.
"We saw a lot of beautiful women around Hollywood who were married to wealthy, successful men, and wondered if they were unhappy," Frey said on the Hell Freezes Over concert film (quote via Ultimate Classic Rock). "One night we were drinking in a bar when I spotted this stunning young woman; two steps behind her was a much older, fat, rich guy. We all started laughing and one of the other guys commented, 'Look at her, she can't even hide those lyin' eyes!' Immediately, we all began grabbing for cocktail napkins to write down lyrics to go with that great observation."
Once Frey and Henley received that spark of inspiration, they went back to their rental home in Trousdale, Beverly Hills, where they also wrote "One Of These Nights," "Take It To The Limit," "After The Thrill Is Gone," and other songs. According to Henley, the home had a panoramic view, with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. The artists say writing "Lyin' Eyes" came fairly easy, and Henley gave most of the writing credit to Frey, adding that he helped out with the verses, but the song was really "Glenn's baby." Frey described the writing process to Cameron Crowe in a 2003 interview.
"The story had always been there," Frey shared. "I don't want to say it wrote itself, but once we started working on it, there were no sticking points. Lyrics just kept coming out, and that's not always the way songs get written. I think songwriting is a lot like pushing a boulder up a hill. I'd love to get the legal pad for 'Lyin' Eyes' again, because I think there were verses we didn't use."
Not only was "Lyin' Eyes" a hit on mainstream and country radio, but it also earned the group a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus and a nomination for Record of the Year. The song is the only one on the One of These Nights album that sees Frey singing solo. The tune, produced by Bill Szymczyk, also features Henley on backing vocals, Bernie Leadon on lead guitar, mandolin and backing vocals, Don Felder on acoustic guitar, Randy Meisner on bass guitar and Jim Ed Norman on piano. "Lyin' Eyes" has since been covered by a multitude of artists, including Lynn Anderson, Diamond Rio and more. It has gone down in history as one of the Eagles most memorable songs, alongside "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "Desperado," "Tequila Sunrise," "Already Gone," "Best of My Love," "New Kid In Town," "Hotel California," "Life In The Fast Lane," and more.