The Long Run

The Long Run

The Eagles sold more than 14 million copies of 1976’s Hotel California, but that didn’t make the pressure of a follow-up any easier. “We needed a vacation,” said Don Henley. “We needed to take some time off and away from each other, and we didn’t do it.” By the time the band members gathered in Miami in 1979 to work on their sixth studio album, Henley and Glenn Frey were barely speaking. Bassist Randy Meisner, meanwhile, had left the band in 1977, after getting into fistfight with Frey (he was replaced by Poco’s Timothy B. Schmit). Things finally took a positive turn when Frey stepped up to the mic and sang “Heartache Tonight,” a track he and Henley had written with J.D. Souther and Bob Seger. “Glenn went and sung his ass off on that track,” said guitarist Joe Walsh. “We knew then we were off the hook a little. We had a single.” The Long Run took three years to complete (some close to the band joked it should have been called “The Long One”). “That’s when Glenn and I started to come apart,” Henley said later in Marc Eliot’s book To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles. “We got into arguments about creativity, lyrics, and some angry words were exchanged.” Unable to write much together, the duo asked their bandmates for help. Schmit co-wrote and sang the moody classic “I Can’t Tell You Why,” which became a hit, and Joe Walsh delivered “In the City,” a heavy stomper about his humble beginnings, featuring his fiery lead guitar. The Long Run closes with “The Sad Cafe,” an elegy for Troubadour, the legendary LA club where, years earlier, Henley and Frey had first met. By 1979, the club was in danger of shutting down—as was Henley and Frey’s partnership. “That song is about the demise of the club, the passing of the glory years,” Henley later said. “We wrote the song as an acknowledgement that those glory days were definitely over.”

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