This month marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Desperado, the Eagles’ second album on Asylum. The LP was recorded in London and produced by Glyn Johns.
(April 17th is often given as the “release date” for the album, but there were no official release dates–or street dates–in the 1970s. In those days, a record store would put a record on the shelf when they got it. Some stores would receive their shipment of albums before others. Releasing an album to the public on a specific date did not begin until the mid-1980s.)
Randy said in 1986 that Desperado was his favorite Eagles album and that songs on other albums made him “cringe.”
“Our second album (Desperado) was my favorite; some of the others have songs that make me cringe.” (Boston Globe, January 30th, 1986)
Randy is credited with co-writing two songs on Desperado: “Saturday Night” and “Certain Kind Of Fool.”
“I was sitting there one night, and I came up with the line ‘What ever happened to Saturday night?’ 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.’ ”
The song was co-written by all four members of the band. Randy also sang lead on the bridge (“She said tell me, oh tell me”).
“Certain Kind Of Fool”
“I went to visit my family in Nebraska during that period. When I came back, the Desperado album was all planned out. I’d try to work in a song about something and hear, ‘Well, this one we’ve got already kind of covers that.’ ‘Certain Kind of Fool’ was written in England while we were recording. We stayed up all night and burned it out, and that was my song on the album.” (BAM, November 7, 1980)
The track was co-written by Randy, Glenn Frey, and Don Henley. Randy sang lead vocal.
Click below to read my post about the song:
One little known fact is that Randy actually wrote the opening chords of the title track:
“You know, I almost started [‘Desperado’]. I remember I was playing the acoustic guitar in the dressing room one night and I was playing the chord…dum, de-dum..which was probably normal, a lot of guys probably played it. But, I remember Henley saying to me, ‘You know, if you don’t do something with that, I’m going to.’ And he did, you know. It was great that he did something with it because I probably wouldn’t have.” (In The Studio with Redbeard, 1989)
Randy recalled this incident much differently a few years later:
“Don and I were in a dressing room and I was playing around with my guitar and I picked out the first three chords of what would be the song ‘Desperado.’ Henley turned on me in a threatening manner and said ‘If you don’t do something with that, I’m going to.’ I thought ‘Why would he threaten me? Why wouldn’t he say ‘That’s kind of neat.’” (The Story Of The Eagles: The Long Run, Marc Shapiro, 1995)
The idea to record an album with an outlaw theme was formulated by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Jackson Browne, J.D Souther and Ned Doheny. “Doolin-Dalton” was the first song written. Another song about a different kind of outlaw, James Dean, was written at the same time, but did not end up on the album.
Glenn Frey: “We had a gunfighter’s photo album in the house and one night we just started writing a song about the Doolin-Dalton gang. We were going to do an all encompassing album about rebels or outlaws that didn’t have a time reference. The Daltons would have sufficed for that entire period. We also started writing a song about James Dean that same night, the one that ended up on ‘On The Border’. We also might have had some about Dillinger or Brando.” (The Story Of The Eagles: The Long Run, Marc Shapiro, 1995)
Desperado was also a reaction to the commercial success of their first album and life on the road.
Don Henley: “Desperado will probably last a lot longer than any of our other albums. It keeps growing. It came out of our first album success and three hit singles, our reaction and revelations about what we were doing, about the rock business, about how temporal it all is…We don’t live a normal life where you get up every morning at 8 am and drive to the office…A lot of that album had to do with what being a hero or public figure is all about.” (Sounds, March 27, 1976)
The photo shoot for the album cover took place in December 1972 at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, CA. Read more about the cover shoot and see the photos here.
Although the album was not the commercial success of their first album, it gave them an identity:
Jackson Browne: “Desperado was a brilliant move, because it gave the Eagles an identity. There was something limited about the concept, but it was also very potent. There was a nouveau-Indian hippy thing going on, everyone was coming to California, and in the end that was what they were writing about: that projected dream of what freedom could be. Vacate your assigned positions in life and be what you fucking want!” (Uncut, June 2013)
Find out more:
Read Uncut‘s tribute to Desperado from June 2013.
Listen to the Randy and Glenn Frey discuss Desperado on In The Studio With Redbeard. Both were interviewed separately: Randy in 1989 and Glenn in 1992.
Love the album and enjoyed this refreshing flashback this morning. May have to get the 50 yr. old vinyl out today.
Thank you Jessica!
You’re welcome, Mark! Thanks for reading.
Kudos Jessica! Beautifully and respectfully done and thank you for the referencing the interview with Redbeard. It is fun to revisit.
The Redbeard interview is great. I love Randy’s story about the horses when they were shooting the short film (@37:50).
I did as well!