May 7 – The Hotel We Can Never Leave

The following year’s Grammy award winner for Record of the Year hit #1 this day in 1977. That was “Hotel California”, the title track of the Eagles massive hit album about “the dark underbelly of the American dream,” (according to Don Henley) which showed that radio will play a close-to-7-minute single if it’s good enough and from a known commodity.

The Eagles were certainly that; it marked the band’s fourth U.S. #1, following hot on the heels of “New Kid in Town”, the first single off the album. The last album of new material to chart a pair of #1’s was KC & the Sunshine Band’s self-titled album two years prior. Curiously, Leo Sayer duplicated the feat when his “When I Need You” bumped this one off the #1 spot, his second chart-topper from Endless Flight.

Don Felder remembered, “all of us kind of drove into L.A. at night. Nobody was from California, and if you drive into L.A. at night, you can just see this glow on the horizon…the images start running through your head of Hollywood and all the dreams.” Henley didn’t see it as brightly, saying that the album in general was “a concept album, but it’s not set in the Old West. It’s more an urban thing…using California as a microcosm for the whole United States…saying ‘we’ve been OK so far for 200 years, but we’re gonna have to change if we’re going to continue to be around.” The song itself might last 200 years. It hit #1 in Canada as well, earned them a platinum single at home and remains one of the ’70s most-played songs on radio and streaming devices. Guitarist magazine picked the guitar solo on it (by Don Felder and Joe Walsh in a sort of ‘dueling guitars’) as the best in rock history. And if you perhaps think you’re just a tiny bit tired of hearing it so frequently…well, the band might be too. They’ve played it over 1000 times in concert to date…and it’s the theme for their current concert tour!  Maybe they really can never leave the Hotel California!  

February 27 – Five Years In, Eagles Still Felt Like The New Kids

The Eagles were flying high 45 years back…but were self-aware enough to know that they might not be forever. That was the approximate idea behind the lead single from their best-selling (studio) album, Hotel California. “New Kid In Town” became their third #1 single in the States this week in 1977.

It was the lead single from the epic album that had been released about two months earlier and which would go on to see an incredible 26 million copies in the U.S. alone. While Glenn Frey sang lead on it, it took him, Don Henley and J.D. Souther to collaborate and get it written. J.D. Souther thought of it rather as a gunslinger kind of reference – always a new gun coming to town trying to put the old champ out of the way for good. He also noted “as you approach 30, you begin to see that things don’t stay the same forever… there’s a lot of other guys that are coming up, they want their moment too… it’s as it should be.”

Henley concurred. He described it as being “about the fickle nature of love and romance. It’s also about the fleeting nature of fame, especially in the music business.”

Fame’s more fleeting for some than others, but “New Kid In Town” helped the Eagles hang onto theirs for some time longer. It became their third U.S. #1 (after “Best of My Love” and “One of These Nights”) and also topped Canadian charts. Meanwhile, it became their first top 10 hit in such far flung places as Norway and ended up winning them a Grammy for Best Vocal Arrangement, one of two the album would score them; the title track took home the prestigious Record of the Year. “New Kid In Town” became their first American gold single, and remains one of their most popular tunes to this day. Fitting, as like Rolling Stone says, it’s an “exquisite piece of south-of-the-border melancholia.”

An oddity about the recording. It featured both Randy Meisner and Don Felder on different guitars but renowned guitar-slinger Joe Walsh put his down and played electric piano on it instead.

February 23 – Monster Albums Made For Ratings Hit Show

Last week we took a look at the Brit Awards and noted that it’s getting to be “awards season.” The time of the year when it seems every field of entertainment is giving out the hardware for the previous year’s accomplishments. It also seems like every year there are more shows, and of late, less interest in them. But that wasn’t always the case, and today we look back to this day in 1978 when the Grammys were given out for the 1977 year in music.

Back then, a Grammy was a major statement in music, and the show, a major event for the public. So much so that the awards show from L.A., broadcast on CBS, was on over 26% of all TVs in the U.S. (and approximately 45% of all the ones which were actually being watched), the third-best ratings ever for it. Only the 1974 show (in which Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack were big winners) and the 1984 (at the height of Michael Jackson’s popularity) were more watched. And why not? Consider that in the previous year, between December, 1976 and November ’77, three of what would turn out to be the biggest records ever came out – Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, which sold ten million in its first month and currently sits at 40 million-plus worldwide; the Eagles Hotel California, which has moved over 26 million in the States alone, and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which like Rumours has sold over 40 million and was the biggest-selling soundtrack ever for over a decade. Not to mention multi-platinum classics from the likes of Meat Loaf and Jackson Browne. And of course, on the big screen, a little sci-fi flick called Star Wars had shown, and it’s theme was pretty popular. Grease was a few months away, but Olivia Newton John gave a sneak preview by performing “Hopelessly Devoted to You” live.

The show was hosted by John Denver, looking uncharacteristically formal in a sparkly-lapeled tuxedo. Like we said, back then, it was an event. And fans weren’t disappointed. Even the comparatively minor categories seemed to be given to records that would live on to seem significant. For instance, Kenny Rogers “Lucille” took one for Best Country Male performance; Crystal Gayle won the female equivalent with the crossover hit “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”…and gave one of the most admirably short acceptance speeches ever! Even the comedy award went to a star for the ages, Steve Martin. Star Wars, and its musical creator John Williams, won trophies for Best Original Score and Best Pop Instrumental. Although the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack came out a few days too late to be included (it was eligible in 1979 and won Album of the Year), the Bee Gees still got a Grammy for Best Pop Group Performance for “How Deep Is Your Love”, the lead-off single from the soundtrack. The Eagles won awards for the two big singles off Hotel California; the title track winning the prestigious Record of the Year and “New Kid In Town” winning one for Best Vocal Arrangements. Rumours took home the Best Album.

Among the other notable awards were Steely Dan taking the Best Engineered Record for Aja, Thelma Houston and Lou Rawls winning ones for R&B and Barbra Streisand, who had already won five before this night, getting ones for Best Pop Female Performance and Best Song for “Evergreen.” Actually, the Best Song was a tie, an unusual occurrence, with it being shared by Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life.” Curiously, Streisand had also tied for an Oscar before, sharing Best Actress with Katherine Hepburn a decade earlier…just in case you’re ever in need of a trivia question sure to win you a drink at the bar! Speaking of Debby Boone, the Grammys proved once again that they didn’t have a crystal ball for the future. They awarded her the Best New Artist, beating out Foreigner and Andy Gibb among others (not to mention acts like The Clash and Tom Petty who appeared on the scene but didn’t get nominated. And while Gibson undeniably had a massive hit record that put her on the map, she’d turn out to be a one hit wonder…which was not unusual for winners of that award! The previous year they’d given the nod to the Starland Vocal Band, (ahead of Boston and the Brothers Johnson), and the following year, it would be a Taste of Honey winning, not the Cars, Elvis Costello or Toto.

This year’s Grammys will take place April 3.

December 23 – Eagles Holiday Hit Still Flies High

To the American public, The Eagles could do no wrong in the late-’70s. So it’s no surprise they filled the gap between Hotel California and The Long Run with a Christmas single which went on to become the band’s tenth top 20 hit. “Please Come Home For Christmas” hit the top 40 on this day in 1978 and sprinted up to #18, the highest any Christmas song had made it on Billboard in 15 years, and one of the best-charting Christmas singles ever.

Please Come Home For Christmas” was sung quite nicely by Don Henley who emoted the appropriate level of sadness and longing, and was the first record for them in which Timothy B. Schmit replaced Randy Meisner on bass. Fans didn’t even seem to mind that The Eagles were perhaps flaunting their success with the record sleeve, which featured a photo of the band relaxing topless around a palm-edged pool with a cute bikini-clad girl and a white Christmas tree. And why would they? It was a beautiful Christmas song playing up the common, and worthy theme that Christmas is only special when you’re with the one you love. It worked well for Elvis on “Blue Christmas”, and later for The Pretenders with “2000 Miles” , but perhaps best of all with this one.

The song was written by one Amos Milbourn and recorded in 1960 by Charles Brown, on his Charles Brown Sings Christmas Songs LP. It should be noted that Brown was a Texas blues-man, not the cartoon kid so that record shouldn’t be confused with the wonderful soundtrack to the Peanuts’ Christmas show.

The song has enduring appeal. Not only is The Eagles version popular to this day (currently it is listed as #76 on Spotify’s most-played list, but is 12th most of “modern Christmas songs”, aka those from the ’70s on) it’s been covered by other artists since. Pat Benetar dedicated her 1990 version of it to troops stationed overseas for the Gulf War and Bon Jovi did a version for A Very Special Christmas 2 in 1992 which hit the UK top 10 two years later. Willie Nelson had a country hit with his own take on it in 2004, and believe it or not, the Queen of Christmas Songs, Mariah Carey has also cut a version that’s on the Spotify most-played list. 

Here at Soundday, we hope that if you’re special person is away, they will indeed come home for Christmas (or if not for Christmas, at least “for New Year’s Night!” )

November 19 – Eagle Wasn’t Perfect…But Was Getting Closer

I’m trying to make people think a little bit,” said Don Henley about his second solo album. “Maybe rock’n’roll is not the vehicle for that sort of thing. But I don’t see why it can’t be.” Neither did we… especially if it’s still listenable. And maybe has a dance beat here and there, because “All She Wants To Do Is Dance.” Building the Perfect Beast was assembled and rolled out on this day in 1984.

Although initially “just” the drummer for the Eagles, Henley was one of if not the most talented of the band members and had perhaps the biggest range of musical influences and interests. And as we’ve noted here before, he was also keenly aware of his own limitations as a musician and a superstar when it came to finding the right, talented musicians who’d compliment and challenge him. All these things were evident on Building the Perfect Beast. It was arguably more a sequel and worthy follow-up to Hotel California than the band’s own Long Run.

As with his first record, Henley assembled a veritable SoCal All-star team of talent to help him out. Mike Campbell of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers wrote the music for the great lead single, “Boys of Summer” (which Petty inexplicably turned down) and helped Henley produce it. Elsewhere on the record, you find Toto’s David Paich and Steve Porcaro adding their touches, Randy Newman playing keyboards on “A Month of Sundays”, Lindsay Buckingham playing a bit of guitar, J.D. Souther popping in and great singers like Belinda Carlisle and Patty Smyth adding their vocals in the background. And of course, there’s Don’s usual post-Eagles right-hand man, Danny Kortchmar who produced most of the album, wrote the biting commentary “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” and co-wrote other tracks and even played some fine horns on the long and languid “Sunset Grill.” That a track which deceptively sounds lulling and calming but spears the L.A. lifestyle as well as anything much since “Hotel California.”

Critics liked the album by and large, then and now. Rolling Stone called it “meticulously crafted” and called “Boys of Summer” in particular “wistful and gorgeous.” Later on, Apple’s I-tunes would note it a worthy “meditation on love, loss and generational angst” (take that Nirvana, you poseurs!) and a “wide-ranging and creative vision.”

The public tended to agree although not as much as they might have if Frey and Walsh were along and the album had a bird of prey’s name on it. While in Australia, it got up to #4, in the U.S. and Canada, it stalled out just inside of the top 20. However, due to the roll of great singles off it, it stayed on the charts for over a year and ended up at triple platinum in the States. Both “Boys of Summer” (which won Henley his first Grammy award) and “All She Wants to do is Dance” made the top 10 in the U.S. and topped rock radio charts; “Sunset Grill” was also out as a single and made #22.

All things considered, maybe not “perfect” but Henley’s beast was about as good as any easy-rock album of the decade.

November 3 – Eagles Ended Band And Decade

The Eagles hit #1 on Billboard with The Long Run this day in 1979 and stayed there on into 1980. Maybe that’s fitting. It ended up being the final #1 album of the ’70s in the U.S. and perhaps no other artist embodied the decade’s musical feel in America more than they had. However, by the end of the decade, it was also apparent a change was in the air and conventional acts like The Eagles would have some difficulty transitioning into the new music ’80s. Suddenly “big”, well-established bands like Fleetwood Mac and Wings were being met with a noticeable drop-off in sales and excitement while the airwaves began to fill with new, and new-sounding acts like Joe Jackson and Blondie. 

The Eagles sixth studio album was a tedious project for them to complete with various band members at each other’s throats and incredible pressure to follow up the smash Hotel California album. Randy Meisner had already quit and Timothy B. Scmit was brought in to replace him, which provided one of the album’s highlights, “I Can’t Tell You Why.” That track was co-written by him and the only single of theirs during their initial run to feature Timothy singing. The Long Run was decently received, earned them a Grammy Award for “Heartache Tonight”, and sold over 7 million copies in the U.S. alone..,a huge number for most acts, but only about half of what the previous one (Hotel California) had moved at that point. they wanted to call it a day.

A short tour followed with a live album to finish their contract to Elektra-Asylum Records and they went their separate ways by summer 1980- til 1994, when Hell froze over… and they were back together with a new tour and the Hell Freezes Over album which would hit #1 almost exactly 15 years after this one. They’re still at it, with a current lineup of Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit, Joe Walsh as well as Vince Gill and Deacon Frey, Glenn’s son. They have a couple of concerts this week in Seattle, and have announced plans for a 50th Anniversary tour starting next summer in England.

July 19 – If It Was Countryish Sounds, Bands Looked To Bernie To Lead-on

Conventional wisdom has it that Don Henley brought the melody and social awareness to the Eagles, Glenn Frey a bit of hit radio-friendly rock attitude and that when Joe Walsh joined later on, he made them rock a bit harder. If that was the case, who then gave them that little bit of a country twang that resonated through their first few records? Well that would be Bernie Leadon, who turns 74 today. Happy birthday, Bernie!

Of course, there might be some flaws with that general idea of the Eagles sound. “That’s an over-simplification,” Leadon told interviewers not long ago. “It implies that I had no interest in rock or blues or anything but country rock. That’s not the case.” Probably not, but it’s an obvious assumption given that Leadon had a background in that end of the music field and brought with him traditionally country/bluegrass instruments like banjos, mandolins and steel guitars as well as the normal rock Les Paul guitar.

Bernie grew up in southern California and knew future-Byrds Gene Clark and Chris Hillman early on. His first real band was in fact the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers with Hillman, which he left to join Dillard & Clark, a country-rock act with Gene Clark. From there it was on to the critically-praised but commercially dull Flying Burrito Brothers, with Hillman (as well as another country-rock pioneer, Gram Parsons). He did two albums with them, Burrito Deluxe and their self-titled one, but grew weary of their lack of sales among other things. This was perhaps his lucky break, because from the Burritos he scored a gig playing in Linda Ronstadt’s backing band… along with Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Randy Meisner. Needless to say, within about a year they were flying as the Eagles and would eclipse the sales of any of his previous acts.

Although Henley and Frey were the focal points of the band, Leadon was a significant player on their first four albums, doing a lot of the guitar work as well as the “country” ones (like mandolin) as needed. Not to mention he did some of the writing and even sang a few tunes, though except for “Witchy woman” (which he co-wrote) they weren’t the ones we normally heard on radio. He wrote and sang “Twenty-one”, “My Man” and “I Wish You Peace” for instance. The latter he actually co-wrote with Patti Davis… Ronald Reagan’s daughter and his girlfriend at the time, something her right-wing politician daddy wasn’t too chuffed about apparently!

He got the band to bring in Don Felder in 1974 to expand their sound a bit, but would end up quitting them around the end of ’75. The most common suggestion was that he didn’t like the shift away from country roots the band was exploring (something accelerated when Walsh replaced him for Hotel California) but that was probably one of several reasons involved. It was well-known he and Frey didn’t like each other, and Leadon seemed to be burning out from the touring and partying the band was always doing more than the others. He did join them however in 1998 when they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and for most of their tours in the past decade.

He’s kept himself busy since the Eagles heyday, but in a low-key kind of way. He released two solo records, over 20 years apart, and briefly joined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, as well as doing a bluegrass album with Chris Hillman in ’85, Ever Call Ready. Beyond that though, he’s been an in-demand session musician for artists including (but far from limited to) Helen Reddy, Alabama, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Green on Red and Emmylou Harris.

These days he apparently lives in Nashville, and “I mainly play banjo around the house for enjoyment.”

An interesting note. Bernie wasn’t the only musical talent in the Leadons. His brother Tom was in Mudcrutch with Tom Petty, before he became famous.

June 27 – Eagle Soared Without Old Bandmates

Flying as high as an Eagle, Don Henley put out his third – and probably best – solo album after leaving The Eagles. The End of the Innocence came to us this day in 1989.

Henley has been nothing if not methodical and slow-paced with his solo career – while this was his third album of the decade, he’s gone on to do just two since plus his occasional work with the re-formed Eagles. Thus every album from Don is an event for his fans, and in this case they were well-rewarded. Although his dad had passed away approximately just when The Eagles took off and his mother still had over a decade ahead of her, mortality and maturity seemed to be heavy on Henley’s mind for The End of the Innocence. He noted in an interview with the Chicago Tribune at the time that he was happy enough with his music “being appreciated more by people in my age range (although) some kids who are 17 or 18 who can understand what I’m saying.” And the things he was saying were largely that the world wasn’t in great shape. “I’m still very angry about the world situation… the government…the way we are treating the planet,” he said. Even symbolically, the movement of life seemed to echo; on “New York Minute”, Danny Kortchmar says Don was specifically trying to evoke a late-fall/early-winter in Central Park kind of atmosphere. Luckily he had some lovely and light enough music to go with rather soul-searching lyrics to pull it off.

While a multi-talented and multi-instrumentalist musician, as well as a great expressive singer, Henley’s ultimate talent could be in finding great other talents to complement his own. On this album it really came to the forefront, from the title track co-written with, and featuring the tinkling piano of Bruce Hornsby, to Tom Petty bandmate Mike Campbell who played guitars on the hits “The Last Worthless Evening” and “The Heart of the Matter”, to Toto’s Jeff Porcaro and David Paich who helped out on several tracks, to Sheryl Crow ( a few years before she went on to fame in her own right) and Ivan Neville whom helped out on backing vocals. Perhaps the oddest “friend” in the studio was then-hot Axl Rose of Guns’n’Roses, who screamed away on the most rocking of the songs, “I Will Not Go Quietly.”

As allmusic would notice, through the record, Henley was “cynical yet hopeful” , a winning combination for the end of the Reagan-Greed Is Good era. Fans agreed. While the album oddly topped out at #8 in both the U.S. and Canada, (and #17 in the UK), it was his biggest-seller, eventually topping seven million copies and being 6X platinum at home. That was driven by a steady stream of great singles : the title track was a top 10 in the U.S. and one of three in Canada, “The Last Worthless Evening” and “The Heart of the Matter” being the other two. He was particularly proud of the latter, noting “it took me 41 years to get to the place in my heart and head where I could write something like that.” Add in to that “I Will Not Go Quietly”, “If Dirt Were Dollars” and “How Bad Do You Want It?” and you had six songs that made the American “mainstream rock” top 10 – more than his previous two albums combined.

Album reviews were quite good then, and better since. Classic Rock call it a “pure pop effort” that “expands on Henley’s extraordinary talent for composing.” Rolling Stone have listed it among their 500 greatest albums ever, saying he “hitched some of his finest melodies to sharply-focused lyrical studies of men in troubled transitions.” Allmusic give it 4-stars, liking how he’d “backed off the synthesizers (to) expand his musical palette” and called “Heart of the Matter” “epic.”

His old bandmates seem to agree. Several of the songs have been incorporated into Eagles live shows since. Ironic that, as during the same interview in which he talked about his mindset and the way we’re treating the world, he told the writer that when it came to an Eagles reunion, “the answer is I seriously doubt it…if we did, it wouldn’t be the same.” But like Don, apparently his old band will not go quietly!

March 8 – Quiet Eagle Was Golden Even In Shadows

George Harrison was said to be the “quiet Beatle”; today we’re wishing a happy 75th birthday to the “quiet Eagle” – Randy Meisner. Although an integral part of most of the Eagles impressive rise to the top, he was often in the shadows with them and is perhaps the most oft-forgotten of them since. And one wonders if he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Meisner grew up as a farm boy in Nebraska. But even though his dad’s profession was growing grain and vegetables, he also played violin, and well enough to teach the locals. Randy was musical from a young age but set his sights on a different style of music than the one of his father. When he was 10, he saw Elvis Presley on TV and decided that was the life for him. He quickly got a guitar and learned it, more or less, but when he joined a band as a teen, they had ample guitar talent. He switched over to the bass. “I loved R&B and the bass players on the Motown stuff were great,” he said. “They really inspired me…my bass playing came real naturally.” Before he was old enough to drive himself to gigs he was in a band called The Dynamics, or at times, Driving Dynamics who had at least minor regional success in the mid-Plains and were signed to a record label by 1965. A couple of years later he was off to California, and in a band called The Poor with another future-Eagle, Don Felder, who had the same manager as Sonny & Cher. Despite getting to open for Jimi Hendrix at times, The Poor did poorly, so he left to form Poco with Jim Messina and Richard Furay. He left them after their first album and did well briefly as a session player for the likes of Waylon Jennings and James Taylor. Through Taylor he met Linda Ronstadt, became a part of her backing band, and the rest as they say is history.

Those guys quickly became The Eagles. Meisner was the bassist, and had a hand in writing some of their lesser-known songs on the first three albums. That changed with their fourth album, One of These Nights. Randy wrote most of and sang lead on “Take It to the Limit.” It was a great song and became their first gold-selling single. For Hotel California he sang another track he’d written, “Try and Love Again.” While one might think this was a blessing, Randy saw it otherwise when they went on tour. “I was always kind of shy,” he told people, “they wanted me to stand in the middle of the stage and sing ‘Take It To The Limit’. I liked to be out of the spotlight.” As well, he was a bit of a homeboy, not liking the amount of time they spent on the road, and had ulcers. It came to a head one night on the Hotel California tour when his voice was rough and he wouldn’t sing his hit song as an encore, leading to a fight with Glenn Frey backstage. He was unceremoniously fired by the band and replaced by Timothy B. Schmit. He openly felt snubbed when they got back together in the ’90s for the Hell Freezes Over album and tour and wasn’t invited, something he attributes to the band’s manager Irving Azoff. “You’d think that you’d be mentioned if you helped with six of their albums, but they act as if I never played with them.” They did include him in their induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and eventually invited him to rejoin them in 2013, but by that time his health was failing and he wasn’t up to it.

After leaving the Eagles, he went on to a solo career, although not as successfully as the band’s two frontmen, Frey and Don Henley. His first album, a self-titled 1978 release “wasn’t conceptualized to its best”, he said since “Elektra (the owner of the Eagles’ Asylum Records) has a leaving members clause and I had to record an album for them before I was able to do what I wanted.” What they wanted was largely an album of cover songs, with a host of guest musicians picked for him including David Cassidy. His next couple of albums were closer to what he wanted and did a little better in the U.S., where he notched three minor hit singles before Henley or Frey had even stepped out on their own, most notably “Hearts on Fire”, a top 20 in ’81. Outside of that and a brief tour with a reunited Poco in 1989, Meisner’s not been too active. He last performed live in 2008 until he took part in an online “concert” with Richard Furay last year.

Although he’s had his troubles with poor health, alcohol and a wife who commit suicide, Meisner’s well-thought of. Don Felder says “he’s a wonderful Midwestern guy with a great heart” and the official photographer for the Eagles in the ’70s remembers “Randy was a gentle soul – Pisces – quiet and friendly. No aggressive vibe at all.” So hat’s off to the Eagle who was more of a dove it seems.

March 1 – Reluctant Smash Soared For Eagles

Perhaps no one would have been surprised back in 1975 when the Eagles finally hit #1 on U.S. charts for the first time. They had been one of the hottest new acts of the decade thus far and scored a number of radio hits like “Take It Easy” and “Witchy Woman.” However, few would have guessed the song that took them there on this day 46 years ago – even though “Best of My Love” seemed like a sure-fire hit. After all it was a nice, slightly achy love song with some fine steel guitar from Bernie Leadon and heartfelt Don Henley vocals. Yet to be a hit it bucked the odds three different ways.

The song was from their third album, On the Border, which had done OK for them but hadn’t really grown their profile or stature with the singles “Already Gone” and “James Dean.” Even the fact that it was available in quadrophonic sound in its 8-track version didn’t spark a stampede to the sales counter. The label, Asylum Records, were all but ready to throw in the towel on it and get them working on a new record… until surprising things happened.

One DJ in Kalamazoo, Michigan liked the song and played it, despite it not being a single. His listeners loved it too and kept requesting it and soon it was on that one station’s hit chart. Asylum took notice and pressed 1000 copies of a 7” single of it and gave it to the station to distribute. So popular were they that Asylum decided to release it as a surprise third single from the record across the world. It soon picked up fans everywhere, including on the adult contemporary stations which hadn’t been big on the band until that point. It got to #1 in the States and Canada, their first in each country, and hit #14 in Australia, their first hit there. Soon it went gold in the U.S.

If that wasn’t unlikely enough, the songs origins made it more so. It was written by a trio of members, Glenn Frey, JD Souther and Don Henley. Souther says “Glenn found the tune…the three of us were writing it in a deadline to get it finished.” Frey remembers “I was playing acoustic guitar in Laurel Canyon and I was trying to figure out a tuning that Joni Mitchell had shown me…I got lost and ended up with what would later turn out to be ‘The Best of My Love.’”

Henley wrote the lyrics, largely about a recent breakup with a girlfriend, sitting in an L.A. restaurant. They took the song with them to England, where they began recording the album with famous producer Glyn Johns. However, that didn’t go well as they didn’t gel well with Glyn. He wanted them to sound more country, they wanted to be a little more rock’n’roll. And he didn’t like them being high while working, and by then the Eagles (as with many California acts of the day) consumed vast quantities of cocaine. They soon ditched the UK and Johns to finish recording close to home in L.A. with Bill Szymczyk, who ended up doing the final mixing of this song (and produced almost all the rest of the album.)

So everyone was ecstatic in the band’s camp when the song was a smash…right? Well, not quite. The record label lopped over a minute off the album version to make the single, without consulting with The Eagles. Henley in particular was furious, as was the manager, Irving Azoff. When it went gold, Azoff broke a piece off an actual gold record and sent it to the record company office, calling it the “Golden Hacksaw Award.” Guess the record executives didn’t always get the best of the Eagles love back then. Although after Hotel California went multi-platinum and the band’s Greatest Hits went on to sell something in the range of 40 million copies, we suspect all was forgiven!