Drummer Don Henley of the rock band "Eagles" poses for a portrait in 1975. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

'Witchy Woman': The Story Behind The Eagles' Haunting Hit

'Witchy Woman' is one of the Eagles' greatest hits of all time. But the tune was born out of a lowpoint for one of the band members.

The band's original members (Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner, and Bernie Leadon) released their self-titled album Eagles, produced by Glyn Johns, in 1971. The record showcased Henley's songwriting skills with the second single, "Witchy Woman."

The track became one of the most important songs to come off their debut album. It passed "Take It Easy" on the charts and became the band's first top 10 single.

The song has been used in film and television since its release date. One of the most well-known of its television features is on the 1996 episode of Seinfeld, 'The Check," when Elaine is trying to connect with her boyfriend, who's obsessed with the song "Desperado."

The Eagles released five No. 1 singles, won five American Music Awards, received six Grammies, and produced six number one albums. The band is apart of the top 5 highest-selling music acts and is the highest-selling American bands, selling over 200-million copies. No American band sold more records than the Eagles during the 1970s.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

How did Henley write 'Witchy Woman'?

Guitar player, Bernie Leadon, had the music — he was just missing the lyrics. After Leadon showed the cassette tape to the band, they decided the minor key gave the tune a very haunted and creepy feel. Not long after this, Henley came down with the flu. He was very sick and became semi-delirious at times. At the same time, he was reading a biography about Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, who spent most of her life in institutions because of her schizophrenia.

"I think that figured into the mix somehow - along with amorphous images of girls I had met at the Whisky and the Troubadour," he recalled in the liner notes of The Very Best of the Eagles.

All of the Eagles members were either friends or former band members of superstar Linda Ronstadt. She helped put the band together. Linda Ronstadt heard the band rehearsing harmonies for the song "Witchy Woman" at her house one day. She knew then that the band was going to be successful.

The song was crucial to the band's success, but also to Henley's. He told interviewer Cameron Crowe, "it marked the beginning of my professional songwriting career."

The song has a haunting melody and memorable lyrics. Read the song's lyrics in full below.

'Witchy Woman' Lyrics:

Raven hair and ruby lips
Sparks fly from her fingertips
Echoed voices in the night
She's a restless spirit on an endless flight
Woohoo, witchy woman
See how high she flies
Woohoo, witchy woman
She got the moon in her eye
She held me spellbound in the night
Dancing shadows and firelight
Crazy laughter in another room
And she drove herself to madness with a silver spoon
Woohoo, witchy woman
See how high she flies
Woohoo, witchy woman
She got the moon in her eye
Well, I know you want a lover
Let me tell you brother
She's been sleeping in the Devil's bed
And there's some rumors going round
Someone's underground
She can rock you in the night time 'til your skin turns red
Woohoo, witchy woman
See how high she flies
Woohoo, witchy woman
She got the moon in her eye

READ MORE: 'Peaceful Easy Feeling': How The Eagles Came Across This Happy Hit