Harman Patil (Editor)

Desperado (song)

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Released  April 17, 1973
Genre  Soft rock
Label  Asylum
Recorded  Early 1973
Length  3:33
Writer(s)  Glenn Frey and Don Henley

Desperado (Eagles album)


"Desperado" is a song written by Eagles group members Glenn Frey and Don Henley. It appeared on the 1973 album Desperado and numerous compilation albums. Although the song was never released as a single, it is one of the group's best known songs and ranked No. 494 on Rolling Stone's 2004 list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".


According to Henley, Desperado was based on a song he started in 1968, written in the style of old songs by Stephen Foster. The song was originally about a friend named Leo and began with "Leo, my God, why don’t you come to your senses..." In 1972, after they had recorded their first album Eagles in London, Glenn Frey and Henley decided that they should write songs together. in their first songwriting session after returning from London, Henley played Frey the unfinished version of the song, and said: "When I play it and sing it, I think of Ray Charles and Stephen Foster. It’s really a Southern Gothic thing, but we can easily make it more Western." According to Henley, Frey "leapt right on it – filled in the blanks and brought structure", and the song became "Desperado". Henley added: "And that was the beginning of our songwriting partnership ... that’s when we became a team."


The song was recorded at Island Studios in London, with musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra was conducted by Jim Ed Norman, Henley's friend from his former band Shiloh, who also wrote and arranged the strings for the song. According to Henley, he was only given four or five takes to record the song by the producer Glyn Jones who wanted to record the album quickly and economically. Henley felt intimidated by the large orchestra, and would later express regret that he did not sing as well as he could. He said: "I didn't sing my best ... I wish I could have done that song again."


"Desperado" is one of the Eagles' most famous songs, and it was ranked No. 494 on the Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" in 2004. It was voted the No. 2 favorite Eagles song in a poll of Rolling Stone readers. In 2000 the song was listed in MOJO magazine's list of greatest songs compiled with songs nominated by songwriters such as Paul McCartney and Hal David and Brian Wilson. Members of the Western Writers of America included it in their list of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

William Ruhlmann of AllMusic considered it one of Eagles' major compositions. Paul Gambaccini of Rolling Stone felt it was Henley's rough voice that made the song memorable. Although the song is one of the Eagles' best-known songs, their recording never charted on Billboard until the death of Glenn Frey, when it reached No. 20 on the Rock Digital Songs chart.


  • Don Henley - lead vocals, drums
  • Glenn Frey - piano, backing vocals
  • Bernie Leadon - electric guitar, backing vocals
  • Randy Meisner - bass, backing vocals
  • Jim Ed Norman - string arrangement
  • Charted versions

  • Johnny Rodriguez's version on his 1976 album Reflecting was released as a single, and reached No. 5 on both the Country Singles charts of Billboard in the United States and RPM in Canada.
  • Carpenters' version on their 1976 album Horizon, choosing not to release it as a single.
  • Clint Black on the Eagles tribute album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles. His rendition peaked at No. 54 on Hot Country Songs in 1993 in the US, and No. 52 on the Country chart in Canada.
  • Diana Krall covered the song on her 2015 album Wallflower and released as a single in September 2014. The song debuted on Billboard's Jazz Digital Songs chart at No. 3.
  • Alisan Porter performed the song as a competitor in the tenth season of The Voice TV series. Her version of the song charted on Bubbling Under Hot 100 at No. 9, and No. 24 on Digital Songs.
  • Other versions

  • Linda Ronstadt on her 1973 album Don't Cry Now. Henley credited Ronstadt with popularizing the song, and described her version as "poignant, and beautiful".
  • Johnny Cash on his 2002 album American IV: The Man Comes Around. Henley sings backup on the track.
  • Miranda Lambert performed the song at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors as a tribute to the Eagles.
  • Chris LeDoux on his 1982 album Used to Want to Be a Cowboy.
  • More covers available here.
  • In popular culture

    The Eagles' version of the song was featured in the Seinfeld episode "The Checks."


    Desperado (song) Wikipedia

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