During the seminal rock band's original 1970s run and throughout an unlikely yet lasting comeback that began with 1994's aptly-titled Hell Freezes Over, the Eagles' songs took the radical folk sounds of Laurel Canyon, the singer-songwriter chops of Jackson Browne and the blues-rock brawn of Bob Seger to a widespread audience.
Core band members Don Henley (drums) and the late Glenn Frey (guitar) guided the ship through numerous lineup changes. Others to pass through and impact an evolving sound over the years include country-rock pioneers and multi-instrumentalists Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner as well as longtime lead guitarist Don Felder, Cleveland rock 'n' roller and current member Joe Walsh, Poco bassist turned current member Timothy B. Schmit, Frey's son Deacon and even country music superstar Vince Gill.
Eagles fans have no shortage of greatest hits-caliber picks for their personal top 10 playlists, and there's ample argument to switch out one of these selections for harmony showpiece and Steve Young original "Seven Bridges Road," The Very Best Of add-on "Hole in the World" or something way less obvious like "After The Thrill is Gone," "Love Will Keep Us Alive," "Out of Control", "Get Over It" or "The Sad Cafe." That said, here's a few country fans' collective take on the back catalog of one of the best roots-informed bands enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
12. "Long Road Out of Eden"
Across 10-plus epic minutes, the band proved that it never lost a step with the title track of its 2007 studio album. It's a memorable collaboration between the classic lineup of Henley, Frey, Schmit and Walsh--a quartet that could've rested on its laurels and cashed in by just playing the hits every night.
11. "Victim of Love"
The guitar-slinging side of the Eagles shifted to the forefront with the 1975 addition of Walsh. Beyond showcasing that element of the band's harder-hitting Hotel California lineup, "Victim of Love" is one of Henley's strongest outings on lead vocals this side of "The Best of My Love."
The album and song Desperado fit the listening needs of country music fans with a hankering to daydream about the American West. 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," "Bitter Creek" and other gold standards of West Coast country-rock.
9. "Witchy Woman"
The Eagles' self-titled debut album has to be considered one of the better first flights in rock 'n' roll history. This song, "Take It Easy" and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" all come from an opening statement that would've been enough on its own to make the band regulars on classic rock airwaves.
8 "Peaceful Easy Feeling"
An untold number of guitarists across genres learned this rock standard back when they first took lessons. Indeed, it's a good building block for players interested in any style of guitar-driven popular music.
7. "In the City"
This song we all learned to love from The Warriors strikes the perfect balance between the band's pop-friendly harmonies and Walsh's guitar-driven rock 'n' roll vision. 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," which is also from 1979's The Long Run.
6. "Lyin' Eyes"
Nineteen seventy-five's "Lyin' Eyes" remains one of the band's biggest commercial and critical successes. The Grammy award-winner was the band's only Top 40 country hit (it peaked at No. 8) until "How Long" in 2007-'08.
5. "Hotel California"
This 1976 smash continues to spark both carpool singalongs and nostalgia for the days of backward masking hysteria. No wonder it won a Rolling Stone readers' poll in 2015 about the best Eagles song. 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," "Wasted Time" and other honorable mention selections.
4. "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 amalgam of its late '70s 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.
3. "Already Gone"
The band's third album, On the Border includes the boogie-woogie fun of "James Dean," the overlooked "Ol' 55" and this swift-paced riff salad with West Coast country undercurrents.
2. "Take It To The Limit"
One of These Nights (1975) brought us the prog-country instrumental "Journey of the Sorcerer," radio standard "Lyin' Eyes" and other favorites. The real selling point, though, is Meisner's ability to hit those high notes on "Take It to the Limit." His famous feat sounds even more amazing on live recordings.
1. "Take It Easy"
Fans of classic rock standards often associate old favorites with bygone stretches of their lives. The Eagles' first single and overall best song--a Browne co-write that's propelled by double-time banjo accompaniment-- is for sure the type that takes children of the '70s back to simpler yet far-out times.
READ MORE: The Eagles Debut Album: A Song-By-Song Guide
This post was originally published on Sept. 6, 2018 and updated on Aug. 5, 2022.
Enjoy all things country?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.