The Best of the Rest; the Lesser-known Eagles Songs

by Marvin Matthews

I have had a 46 year love affair with the Eagles. From (almost) ‘day 1,’ and that opening G chord in “Take It Easy,” I was hooked. The ingredients I’ve always looked for in songs have been, strong vocals, harmonies, musical arrangements and melodic structure. The Eagles had all those ingredients in spades. Their chart success is well documented, having reached the top rungs of the Singles and Albums charts many times. Their songs will likely always stay in rotation on most “Classic” rock stations, keeping them in the minds of most for years to come.


For long-time fans there probably isn’t such a thing as an ‘unknown Eagles song.’ But there lies a wealth of songs that may have passed by the ears of casual listeners. So for those listeners, I’ll attempt to address some lesser-known songs that imo are still high-valued. These songs weren’t hit singles and therefore missed out from being on forever-rotation. If you don’t know them, find the time to listen to them.

Songs listed alphabetically.

After the Thrill Is Gone - from the ‘One Of these Nights’ album. Perfectly arranged dual lead vocal by Frey, with Henley on the bridge. If ever there was a perfect lyric written about success and all the pitfalls that come it’s, “what can you do when your dreams come true and they’re not quite like you planned.” As the closing song on the album, it presented the perfect lead-in (warning?) to what would come next - an album dealing with further confusion and delusion, ‘Hotel California.’

Business As Usual - their 2007 album, ‘Long Road Out of Eden’ doesn’t get much press, but it did have some strong material. Most of it came from the pen of Don Henley. This tune is similar in theme to much of Henley’s socially conscious solo music.

Busy Being Fabulous - From ‘Long Road Out of Eden.’ A really great Henley vocal, and the title (Frey’s idea?) sells a brilliant melody.

Certain Kind of Fool - From the “Desperado” album, an aching lead vocal by Randy Meisner is what brings this song home.

Frail Grasp on the Big Picture - Henley again from ‘Long Road Out of Eden.’ A good example of his talent to turn phrases and write biting lyrics.

Good Day In Hell - From the extremely underrated ‘On the Border’ album. Welcome, Don Felder into the group, and the start of a sound that was much ‘harder’ than what audiences had come to expect from the band.

Hollywood Waltz - From ‘One Of these Nights,” I thought that this had ‘hit’ written all over it. Maybe because it was too close in sound and style to what was expected of the band, it was bypassed. Henley shines again on lead vocals.

Is It True - From ‘On the Border.’ Don't know whether Randy ever delivered a prettier lead vocal, but his plaintive cry takes this song farther than anyone else could. Beautiful melody surrounded by immaculate harmonies.

Long Road Out of Eden - This song is majestic in its scope and coming in at 10:16, the longest running song in the Eagles repertoire. Henley crosses all the ‘t’s’ and dots the ‘i’s’ on this one; even though there are co-writers on the tune, I have to believe that it’s 99% a Henley tune. The only thing missing (for me) is a screeching Felder guitar solo.

My Man - From ‘On the Border,’ feature one of Bernie Leadon’s finest vocals. Written about Gram Parsons, not long after he passed.

On the Border - Love Henley’s vocals on this. It’s songs like this that people forget when they put the Eagles in that ‘Country box.’ A great early stab at R&B.

Outlaw Man - Written by David Blue, from ‘Desperado,’ it fit nicely into the theme of the album, while at the same time rocking as hard as anything the band was doing up to that point.

Saturday Night - Also from ‘Desperado.’ Highlights for me are Henley’s lead vocal, Leadon’s mandolin, and Meisner adding the “she said tell me, tell me..” vocal. Together they set a perfect mood.

The Sad Cafe - Written as a tribute to LA’s Troubadour Club, the closing cut from ‘The Long Run’ is achingly sad and a touching memory to the historic club. Maybe a bit of unintended foreshadowing, but a sad epitaph to what would be the last studio album for many years.

Train Leaves Here this Morning - From the debut album, this tune shines as a showcase for Bernie’s vocals and the band’s beautiful harmonies.

Try and Love Again - From ‘Hotel California’ featuring an incredible lead vocal from Randy Meisner. In my mind, this should have been lined up as a single. Also features an understated yet perfect guitar solo by Frey.

Visions - Don Felder’s lone lead vocal during his time with the Eagles. This tune from ‘One Of these Nights,’ shows the funk/rock that Felder was able to provide that gave the band another musical weapon.

Waiting in the Weeds - From ‘Long Road Out of Eden,’ lyrically this might be Henley’s finest hour with the Eagles. The imagery set in the story is perfect. If it had been released during the band’s peak period in the 1970’s, it would have been a hit single.

You Never Cry Like A Lover - Very underrated tune from ‘On the Border’ that is perfect in Henley’s hands.