“Randy is the perfect ribbon for the package. He adds all the top and all the bottom, singing like a lark and giving that growly, Nebraska, R&B-oriented bass feel to the country stuff.”

Glenn Frey, Crawdaddy, July 1974

This post is made up of several articles which critique the songs Randy sang lead on, backup on, played bass on, and/or wrote or co-wrote. There are a few songs listed where Randy didn’t play bass, but were rated as one of the “Top Ten Randy Meisner Songs”.

Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot

“Meisner is the kind of player that excels at functionality and musicality, perfectly at home supporting the song and holding out for the right moment to execute a low-end melody. Many of his bass lines are derivative of traditional blues and country bass playing, where the approach favors playing just the root, the arpeggio, or the root and fifth. The bass parts on the songs such as ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling,’ ‘Train Leaves Here This Morning,’ and ‘Take It Easy,’ adopt this classic country style, perhaps establishing a next generation of the Bakersfield Sound lineage. Though most of his lines are harmonically simple and make use of diatonic voice leading, he gracefully sits in the groove with the drummer, provides the necessary accompaniment, and allows the song to shine through. As a groove player, Meisner’s attention to note duration is quite unique. He often plays shorter, punchier notes with rests in between them; this assertive rhythmic approach helps to define the feel of the song as well as his personal style. This attention to note duration, and particularly in keeping his notes short and precise, is evident in songs such as ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Life in the Fast Lane.'”

No Trebel ~ Bass Players To Know:  Randy Meisner by Ryan Madora, Sept. 7, 2018

“With Randy Meisner, the Eagles were one of the greatest rock groups in American history. After the founding bassist left the band, they became merely very good.

“The Eagles were the closest thing to the Beatles this country has ever had. Where Britain’s Fab Four blazed trails, the Eagles mostly carried forward trends established by others. Both groups boasted remarkable musical chemistry. In both bands, a dynamic duo dominated, but every member wrote and sang some songs, lending pleasing variety to each album. And in both cases, it was the quiet ones who brought the secret sauce.

“Stunning creativity allowed the Beatles to excel despite merely good pipes and chops. The Eagles augmented capable in-house writing with polish from pros like Jackson Browne and J.D. Souther. They surpassed the Beatles as musicians only by adding ringers — Don Felder and Joe Walsh — to contribute scorching guitar.

“Of course, the real key to the greatness of the Eagles lay in that magical mix of incomparable voices. Meisner’s high harmony vocals comprised the key ingredient in that blend.”

“Randy Meisner Made The Eagles Great,” by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016

“Already Gone” (Eagles ~ On The Border ~ 1974)

“This classic hit features Meisner’s prominent bass part as the driving force. He plays well-articulated notes with precise duration throughout the verses, alluding to the traditional country “tic-tac” style playing. Going into the choruses, he adopts a bluesier approach by walking through the chord changes, hinting at the minor-to-major third, and playing with greater intensity as the song progresses.”
(Source:  No Trebel ~ “Bass Players To Know:  Randy Meisner”, by Ryan Madora, Sept. 7, 2018)

“Meisner’s jaunty bass powers the up-tempo grooves of this song.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Backing Vocal
Click to listen to “Already Gone”


“Bad Man” (Randy Meisner ~ Randy Meisner ~ 1978)

“Meisner didn’t play base on this song, but it is listed as the 8th best Randy Meisner song in “Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs”.A mini-Eagles reunion of sorts, “Bad Man” was co-written by Meisner’s longtime former bandmate Glenn Frey and the group’s regular collaborator J.D. Souther. It was also featured on the soundtrack to 1978’s FM, which included their onetime boss Linda Ronstadt, too.”
(Source:  Classic Rock & Culture ~ “Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs”, by Nick Deriso, March 7, 2016)
8th Best Randy Meisner Song
Lead Vocal
Click to listen to “Bad Man”


“Calico Lady” (Poco ~ Pickin’ Up the Pieces ~ 1969)

“Meisner digs into a super funky long-lost groove to start the song and support the verses. Accenting the various hits and chord changes, he takes on the role of counter-point in the choruses, mimicking the phrasing of the vocals and hitting strong “beat twos” alongside the drummer. Transitioning into the bridge, he plays a hyperactive yet appropriate part to provide contrast to the high, floating vocal harmonies.”
(Source:  No Trebel ~ “Bass Players To Know:  Randy Meisner”, by Ryan Madora, Sept. 7, 2018)
Backing Vocal
Click to listen to “Calico Lady”


“Certain Kind of Fool” (Eagles ~ Desperado 1973)

“Meisner’s bandmates dominate the first half of the album, but the bassist basically takes over Side Two.  On this autobiographical song, Meisner sings prescient misgivings about musical fame.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Lead Vocal
Co-wrote with Frey & Henley
Click to listen to “Certain Kind of Fool”


“Come On In” (Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band ~ Rick Nelson, In Concert:  The Troubadour, 1969 ~ 1970)

“Randy Meisner’s bass is on point throughout the whole song, as are his and Allen Kemp’s backing vocals. This was an excellent choice for a show opener, kicking off each performance with a rousing, energetic, melodic, punchy tune. Kemp and Nelson do some pretty decent guitar work here as well.”
(Source:  “Why “Rick Nelson, In Concert:  The Troubadour, 1969” Is The Greatest Live Album You’ve Never Heard”, by Jill Valentino, May 15, 2019)
Backing Vocal
Click to listen to “Come On In”


“Daughter of the Sky” (Randy Meisner ~ “Randy Meisner” ~ 1978)
“Meisner didn’t play base on this song, but it is listed as the 4th best Randy Meisner song in ‘Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs.’
A heartfelt song of romantic confusion, ‘Daughter of the Sky’ reanimates the gentle shyness of Meisner’s earliest Eagles’ songs – pointing the way for what could have been a successful solo career. But Meisner never took to the spotlight, instead spending much of the era before his retirement working as a sideman. His best-known work was alongside the likes of James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, Richard Marx and former bandmates Joe Walsh and Richie Furay.”
(Source:  Classic Rock & Culture ~ “Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs”, by Nick Deriso, March 7, 2016)
4th Best Randy Meisner Song
Lead Vocal
Click to listen to “Daughter of the Sky”


“Easy to Be Free” (Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band ~ Rick Nelson, In Concert:  The Troubadour, 1969 ~ 1970)

“Highlights of this song are Randy, Allen, and Rick’s 3-part choral harmony. Rick’s smooth, glassy lead vocal. Meisner’s sliding bass runs at 1:40. The dynamics-oh, the dynamics.”
(Source:  “Why “Rick Nelson, In Concert:  The Troubadour, 1969” Is The Greatest Live Album You’ve Never Heard”, by Jill Valentino, May 15, 2019)
Backing Vocal

Click to listen to “Easy to Be Free”


“Hotel California” (Eagles ~ Hotel California ~ 1976)

“Meisner’s most distinctive contribution to the band’s best album came on this epic title track, where his cunning bass line helps lay down the irresistible reggae grove.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Backing Vocal
Click to listen to “Hotel California”


“Is It True?” (Eagles ~ On the Border ~ 1974)

“Meisner seems to be channeling George Harrison to great effect as part of an album that also included his banjo-driven take on Paul Craft’s ‘Midnight Flyer.’ There’s an interesting juxtaposition between light and dark on this cut, (which served as a B-side to the Top 40 hit ‘Already Gone’), as Glenn Frey’s scalding turn on slide works in contrast to the melancholy sweetness of Meisner’s vocal.”
(Source:  Classic Rock & Culture ~ “Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs”, by Nick Deriso, March 7, 2016)
5th Best Randy Meisner Song

“Meisner’s affecting vocal wrings maximum heartache from the unremarkable lyrics of this song.  He shines on his instrument here, too, punctuating the chorus with some tasty bass accents.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Lead Vocal
Wrote
Click to listen to “Is It True?”


“James Dean” (Eagles ~ On the Border ~ 1974)

“Meisner’s jaunty bass powers the up-tempo grooves of this song.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Backing Vocal
Click to listen to “James Dean”


“Midnight Flyer” (Eagles ~ On the Border ~ 1974)

“Meisner sang lead, harmonizing with himself through the magic of multitracking.  The most chip-kicking track the Eagles ever recorded — Meisner manages a credible impression of a train whistle to evoke the elation of declaring independence from a suffocating relationship. His walking bass drives the relentless cut-time groove for most of the song, but at 2:35, Meisner’s instrument declares independence, too: Leaving the timekeeping to Henley’s drums and Bernie Leadon’s banjo, Meisner busts out a brief bass solo to kick off a 4/4 coda featuring his 4-string trading licks with the guitarists.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Lead Vocal
Click to listen to “Midnight Flyer”


“Most of Us Are Sad” (Eagles ~ Eagles ~ 1972)

“At the end of one early band rehearsal – during a period when the Eagles had few original songs – Frey sat down with his guitar and played this poignant ballad, which expressed a more vulnerable side of its writer. ‘I thought, ‘Well, that’s a really interesting song,’’ says Leadon. ‘It really does express something truthful – that a lot of people probably are sad but don’t express it.’ In the final version included on their debut, Meisner took the lead vocal, his softer, higher voice adding to the lyrics’ mournful quality. ‘We had a natural tenor singer in Randy Meisner,’ Leadon says. ‘And in Henley too. So, we had two guys that could go up high and not be strained-sounding.’”
(Source:  Rolling Stone ~ “The 40 Greatest Eagles Songs”, by David Browne, Angie Martoccio, Andy Greene, Kory Grow & Christopher Weingarten, Sept. 22, 2019)
Lead or Co-lead Vocal
Click to listen to “Most of Us Are Sad”


“New Kid in Town” (Eagles ~ Hotel California ~ 1976)

“With Randy Meisner playing an acoustic bass known as a guitarron (gifted to him by a friend from Mexico), ‘New Kid in Town’ was an exquisite piece of south-of-the-border melancholia, with overlapping harmonies so complex that the song won the band a Grammy for Best Vocal Arrangement.”
(Source:  Rolling Stone ~ “The 40 Greatest Eagles Songs”, by David Browne, Angie Martoccio, Andy Greene, Kory Grow & Christopher Weingarten, Sept. 22, 2019)
Backing Vocal
Click to listen to “New Kid in Town”


“Nightingale” (Eagles ~ Eagles ~ 1972)

“On that first album, the bassist sounds even better supporting Don Henley’s singing. Meisner sounds even more joyful on this tune.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Backing Vocal
Click to listen to “Nightingale”


“Nothin’ To Hide” (Poco ~ Legacy ~ 1989)

This was a make-good moment for Meisner, whose lead vocals were unceremoniously erased from Poco’s 1969 debut album after an acrimonious split. Twenty years later, he was singing with that same reunited lineup, and they hit the Top 40 with this song, co-written by Richard Marx for what would become Poco’s second gold-selling album.”
(Source:  Classic Rock & Culture ~ “Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs”, by Nick Deriso, March 7, 2016)
10th Best Randy Meisner Song
Lead Vocal
Click to play “Nothin’ To Hide”


“Ol’ 55” (Eagles ~ On the Border ~ 1974)

“Meisner’s vocal harmonies on this song enable his band’s cover to reach ecstatic heights unapproached by the original Tom Waits recording – or by the Eagles, after Meisner left.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Backing Vocal
Click to play “Ol’ 55”


“On the Border” (Eagles ~ On the Border ~ 1974)

“Meisner’s four-string lays down a syncopated minimalist groove that lures the band into funk territory.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Lead vocal in the bridge (“Never mind your name…”)
Click to play “On the Border”


“One of These Nights” (Eagles ~ One of These Nights ~ 1975)

“Kicking off with an iconic bass riff, Meisner takes full advantage of the range of the instrument. He jumps between the lower root notes that define the chord progression and a simple yet memorable motif in the higher range. As the verse kicks in, he plays a groove based on a three-note phrase that adheres to the diatonic harmony of the song. Going from the minor tonality of the verses to the relative major chorus, Meisner plays a rhythm-and-blues inspired bass line that moves from the four chord to the one. He alternates the rhythm of the line to create contrast with the melody and playful substitutes notes in the major pentatonic scale throughout the extended outro.”
(Source:  No Trebel ~ “Bass Players To Know:  Randy Meisner”, by Ryan Madora, Sept. 7, 2018)

“This was Meisner’s masterpiece.  Right out of the gate, he slays with his dog whistle falsetto on this disco-inflected track.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Backing Vocal
Click to play “One of These Nights”


“Outlaw Man” (Eagles ~ Desperado ~ 1973)
“Meisner’s bandmates dominate the first half of the album, but the bassist basically takes over Side Two.  Two-and-a-half minutes into this song he throws down a menacing undertow of blistering bass lines to accent the song’s climax.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Backing Vocal
Click to play “Outlaw Man”


Red Balloon” (Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band) ~ Rick Nelson, In Concert:  The Troubadour, 1969 ~ 1970)

“Highlights of this song are Meisner and Kemp’s stacked choral harmonies. Rick’s vocals starting at around the 2:45 mark, where he gets kind of yelly and growly (in a good way). Actually, the whole song is just good. Really good.”
(Source:  “Why “Rick Nelson, In Concert:  The Troubadour, 1969” Is The Greatest Live Album You’ve Never Heard”, by Jill Valentino, May 15, 2019)
Backing Vocal
Click to play “Red Balloon”


“Saturday Night” (Eagles ~ Desperado ~ 1973)
“Meisner co-wrote the twilit ‘Saturday Night’ along with Don Henley (who sings lead here), and memorably steps forward for his own turn at the mic during the song’s lonesome bridge (‘She said tell me; oh, tell me …’). Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon, who add some lush backing vocals, are also credited as co-writers.”
(Source:  Classic Rock & Culture ~ “Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs”, by Nick Deriso, March 7, 2016)
3rd Best Randy Meisner Song

“Meisner’s bandmates dominate the first half of the album, but the bassist basically takes over Side Two.  Meisner’s impossibly sweet harmonies and bridge vocals make this song perfectly exquisite.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)

“Meisner got the idea for this song – which he co-wrote with Henley, Frey and Leadon – while reflecting on his youth. ‘I was sitting there one night, and I came up with the line ‘What ever happened to Saturday night?’ the bassist recalls. ‘When I was younger, I would be out partying, and with girls and having fun. And that’s what it was about: Whatever happened to it? And the answer was, ‘You’re older now.’ Leadon’s lovely mandolin and Henley’s forlorn vocals give the soft country waltz a gently heartbroken feel that helps personalize Desperado’s sense of placeless drifting.”
(Source:  Rolling Stone ~ “The 40 Greatest Eagles Songs”, by David Browne, Angie Martoccio, Andy Greene, Kory Grow & Christopher Weingarten, Sept. 22, 2019)
Co-lead vocal on the bridge (“She said tell me, oh tell me…”)
Co-Wrote with Henley, Frey & Leadon

Click to play “Saturday Night”


Save The Last Dance For Me” (Randy Meisner ~ Randy Meisner ~ 1978)
“Meisner only played bass on one song on this album, a cover of The Drifters’ ‘Save the Last Dance For Me.’ Elektra had a ‘leaving members clause’ and he had to record an album for them before he was able to do what he wanted.”
(Source:  Discogs)
Lead Vocal
Click to play “Save the Last Dance For Me”


“Strangers” (Randy Meisner ~ Randy Meisner ~ 1982)

“Meisner didn’t play base on this song, but it is listed as the 7th best Randy Meisner song in ‘Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs.’
Heart’s Ann Wilson joins Meisner on a gorgeous reworking of ‘Strangers,’ a hard-to-find cut from Elton John’s lightly regarded years working with Gary Osborne instead of Bernie Taupin.”
(Source:  Classic Rock & Culture ~ “Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs”, by Nick Deriso, March 7, 2016)
7th Best Randy Meisner Song
Lead Vocal (with Ann Wilson)
Click to play “Strangers”


“Take It Easy” (Eagles ~ Eagles ~ 1972)

“Consider this song the Eagles first hit. There is nothing remarkable about Glenn Frey’s lead vocal; it’s the backing harmonies that set the song apart. The Eagles really take flight for the first time when Meisner joins Frey on the ‘Standing on a corner’ verse, exuding pure joy.”
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Backing Vocal
Click to play “Take It Easy”


“Take It to the Limit” (Eagles ~ One of These Nights ~ 1975)

“Any hopes Meisner had of staying safely in the shadows ended with the No. 1 track on our list of the Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs. ‘Take It To the Limit’ rose to No. 4, the Eagles’ highest-charting position at the time, putting additional pressure on him to hit the song’s emotional high note onstage night after night. Panic apparently began to creep in, and Meisner reportedly asked that the song – despite its massive popularity – be removed from the band’s sets. When the rest of the Eagles refused, Meisner quit. The vocal was later taken over by Glenn Frey.”
(Source:  Classic Rock & Culture ~ “Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs”, by Nick Deriso, March 7, 2016)
Best Randy Meisner Song
Lead Vocal
Co-wrote with Frey/Henley

Click to play “Take It To The Limit”


Tonight, I’ll Be Staying Here With You” (Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band ~ Rick Nelson, In Concert:  The Troubadour, 1969 ~ 1970)

“Highlights of this song are the lovely three-part harmonies consisting of Meisner (high tenor) Kemp (tenor) and Nelson (baritone). Kemp’s lead guitar chops. The lyrics are subtly romantic. This song would never be composed nowadays, as too much thinking is required for the listener.”
(Source:  “Why “Rick Nelson, In Concert:  The Troubadour, 1969” Is The Greatest Live Album You’ve Never Heard”, by Jill Valentino, May 15, 2019)
Backing Vocal
Click to play “Tonight, I’ll Be Staying Here With You”


“Too Many Hands” (Eagles ~ One of These Nights ~ 1975)

“Co-written with Don Felder, who’d just become an official member of the Eagles, ‘Too Many Hands’ includes a smart twist on an old religious trope – and, in keeping with Felder’s arrival, one of the final long strides away from the pastoral country-rock sound that had previously dominated the band’s albums. Felder tangles with Glenn Frey on a dueling guitar-dominated outro, while Don Henley happily bangs away on the tablas.”
(Source:  Classic Rock & Culture ~ “Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs”, by Nick Deriso, March 7, 2016)
9th Best Randy Meisner Song
Lead Vocal

Co-written with Don Felder
Click to play “Too Many Hands”


“Tryin'”  (Eagles ~ Eagles ~ 1972)

“This final track on the Eagles’ country-tinged debut album does more than hint at where they’d eventually land toward the end of Meisner’s tenure. ‘Tryin” —  with its rumbling hook, eruptive guitar and brief closing vocal reference to the Rolling Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ — was a palette-clearing blast of harder-edged rock.”
(Source:  Classic Rock & Culture ~ “Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs ‘, by Nick Deriso, March 7, 2016)
2nd Best Randy Meisner Song
Lead Vocal

Wrote
Click to play “Tryin'”


Who Cares About Tomorrow/Promises” (Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band ~ Rick Nelson, In Concert:  The Troubadour, 1969 ~ 1970)

“Highlights of this song are – The whole 5 minutes 55 seconds. During the Segway to ‘Promises,” i.e., the best part of the song(s), Rick gets all growly and yelly once again, asking us ‘who cares about tomorrow?’ multiple times. Concurrently, Randy Meisner holds a gorgeous vibrato note in the background for 9 entire seconds, while continuing to chop at his bass like a boss. “Promises” is full of 3-part harmonies and instrumental jams.”
(Source:  Excerpt from “Why “Rick Nelson, In Concert:  The Troubadour, 1969” Is The Greatest Live Album You’ve Never Heard”, by Jill Valentino, May 15, 2019)
Backing Vocal
Click to play “Who Cares About Tomorrow/Promises”


“Witchy Woman” (Eagles ~ Eagles ~ 1972)
“On the first album, the bassist sounds even better supporting Don Henley’s singing.  Meisner conjures dread and danger on this song.” 
(Source:  “Randy Meisner made the Eagles great”, by Brian Scott MacKenzie, March 8, 2016)
Backing Vocal
Click to play “Witchy Woman”


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4 comments

  1. So much to read and so much to listen to. A wonderful collection of praise for Randy’s voice and Randy’s audios showing off his perfect vocals. Thank you.

    1. You’re welcome, Leah! I gained renewed respect for Randy’s talents as I re-read the articles used in this post and pulled together the recordings. Each song is a gem. How the Eagles ever let this man go, or didn’t welcome him back, is beyond me.

  2. Perfectly matched and a lot of dedicated and devoted work by you. A member posted it in our group and it’s being well appreciated. Yes, letting him go was one thing but not welcoming him back is another.

    1. Thank you again, Leah! In my opinion, the Eagles could have made several changes to keep their original bassist happy before he felt the need to leave. They also had several chances to include him again; one of which happened five short years ago. The Kennedy Center Honors should have included Randy and Bernie Leadon. They gave the Eagles their wings.

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