During the band’s original ’70s run and beyond, The Eagles took the radical folk sounds of Laurel Canyon and the singer-songwriter chops of Jackson Browne to arena rock audiences. They reached the big stage in no time with a bottomless well of memorable songs and multiple all-time great rock albums.
Core members Don Henley (drums) and the late Glenn Frey (guitar) guided the ship through numerous lineup changes. Members to pass through and impact an evolving sound over the years include country rock pioneer and multi-instrumentalist Bernie Leadon, country music fanatic Randy Meisner, longtime lead guitarist Don Felder, Clevland rock ‘n’ roller and current member Joe Walsh, bassist and current member Timothy B. Schmit, Frey’s son Deacon and even country music superstar Vince Gill.
Eagles fans have no shortage of worthy picks for their personal top 10 lists, and there’s ample argument to switch out one of these selections for harmony showpiece and Steve Young original “Seven Bridges Road” or something way less obvious like “I Wish You Peace” or “The Sad Cafe.” That said, here’s a country fan’s take on the back catalog of one of the best roots-informed bands to ever emerge from the West Coast.
10. “Long Road Out of Eden”
Across 10-plus epic minutes, the band proved that it never lost a step with this 2007 title track. It’s a memorable collaboration between the classic lineup of Henley, Frey, Schmit and Walsh–a group that could’ve just rested on its laurels and cashed in by just playing the hits every night.
9. “Witchy Woman”
The band’s self-titled 1972 album has to be considered one of the better debuts of its time. This song, “Take It Easy” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” all come from an album that would’ve been enough to make the band regulars on classic rock airwaves.
8. “Already Gone”
The band’s third album On the Border includes the boogie-woogie fun of “James Dean,” classic ballad “The Best of My Love,” the underrated “Ol’ 55” and this swift-paced rock song with West Coast country undercurrents.
7. “Take It to The Limit”
Bernie Leadon’s swan song with the band, 1975’s One of These Nights, brought us the prog-country instrumental “Journey of the Sorcerer,” radio standard “Lyin’ Eyes” and other favorites. The real selling point, though, might be lead vocalist’s Randy Meisner’s ability to hit those high notes on “Take It to the Limit.” His famous feat sounds even more amazing on live recordings.
6. “Peaceful Easy Feeling”
Over the years, multiple guitarists told me about having to learn this American rock standard back when they first took lessons. It’s definitely a good building block for players interested in any type of popular music.
5. “In the City”
On a list of personal favorites, this song we all learned to love from The Warriors might get top billing. It’s the perfect cross between the band’s pop-friendly harmonies and Walsh’s guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll. It’s one of the better latter-day moments with someone other than Frey or Henley handling lead vocals. For another example, hear Schmit’s R&B-infused “I Can’t Tell You Why,” another track off 1979’s The Long Run.
4. “Take It Easy”
Fans of classic rock standards often associate a famous song title with an otherwise mundane life event. One time at my favorite fishing hole, I told a friendly stranger to “take it easy.” His response: “That’s the only way I know how.” Words from the wise…
3. “Hotel California”
This 1976 hit solidified the band as a household name. It also continues to spark both carpool singalongs and nostalgia for the days of backwards masking hysteria. Plus, the album that bears its name stands the test of time behind the strength of “New Kid in Town,” “The Last Resort,” “Life in the Fast Lane” and other honorable mention selections.
2. “Heartache Tonight”
The band captured the vibe of a night out in a big city like New York or Los Angeles circa 1979 with this display of its latter-day rock tendencies and its harmony-driven country roots. It spawned from a jam session with frequent Eagles and Linda Ronstadt collaborator and future Nashville star J.D. Souther.
The album and song Desperado fit the listening needs of country music fans with a hankering to hear a little rock ‘n’ roll. The cowboy concept album builds a story with not just this gorgeous classic and “Tequila Sunrise,” but also the lesser-known “Doolin-Dalton,” “Outlaw Men,” “Certain Kind of Fool” and other gold standards of West Coast country-rock.