The Eagles have long been known for their ability to write a good song. In fact, they have done exactly that on numerous occasions. However, it is one of their more reluctant hits, 1974’s “The Best of My Love”, which is the subject of this particular article. The song was released on their album entitled “On the Border.” What makes it so special, other than the fact that it went to number one on the charts? The Eagles didn’t want to release it. In fact, they wanted nothing to do with it.
An Accidental Hit
The band’s guitarist, Glenn Frey, was the one responsible for creating the tuning for the song, but it isn’t something that he likes to take credit for because he didn’t do it on purpose. In fact, he was actually sitting in Laurel Canyon at the time that he was working on this particular tuning, all in an attempt to do something completely different. Just a couple of days prior to his trip to the canyon, fellow musician Joni Mitchell had shown him a very specific guitar tuning. It was a complicated one and it was one that he was doing his best to remember. Despite his best efforts at remembering the exact tuning, it just wasn’t coming to him. He says that he eventually got so lost, it ended up sounding nothing like the tuning she had shown him. However, it did end up in this song. He says that he’s never been particularly fond of it because every time he hears it, the only thing he can hear is the mistakes that he made. Since it wasn’t something that he intended to create, it has never been one of his favorites, to say the least.
Moving The Song Forward
Frey contacted fellow band member and lead vocalist Don Henley after he accidentally created the majority of the music for it. He was looking for Henley’s help with the lyrics. The two of them ended up sitting in one of their favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, Dan Tana’s, and writing the majority of the song. At the same time, they were also studying the people that would come into the restaurant while they were there. According to Henley, at least part of the lyrics are based on some of the relationships that they witnessed while they were sitting there. Henley had made comments in the past that they were far too young to understand relationships at the time, so they made a concerted effort to watch other people and see what type of dynamics each group of people presented with. According to them, they watched relationships both blossom and come to an end at that restaurant. To a certain degree, all of that had an impact on the lyrics to the song. However, that’s not why they didn’t want the song released. It’s not even because the music to the song was an accident, at least not in its entirety. As it turns out, there’s a lot more to the story.
The New Sound That Wasn’t
As they were getting ready to put this album together, they were working with the same producer that had helped them with the first two, Glynn Johns from Olympic Sound. The problem was, all of the band members were very much in the mindset that they wanted to change their sound for their third album. The first two had been something of a country-rock hybrid and that was not what they wanted. They had yet to hit number one in the charts and they were looking for a way to make their music more their own. They felt that “The Best of My Love” was something that should have ended up on either their first or second album, not something where they were trying to create a different sound. Their producer did not share this idea and was determined that they were going to keep recording the same type of music that they had previously done. The band members were having none of it and decided to leave Olympic Records. Eventually, they chose to record with a new label, Record Plant. There, they had a new producer and they were able to create the type of music that they wanted. However, “The Best of My Love” still wound up on the album. None of them were happy about it, but they didn’t think any more about it because they never thought, even in their wildest dreams, that someone would release it as a single without their permission.
The Unthinkable Happened
Imagine their surprise when that was exactly what happened, all because a radio station in Michigan had played the song and people fell in love with it. As a result, it got loads of airtime and when the new record label found out about it, they decided to cut it as a single without the band’s permission. By all accounts, Don Henley was so frustrated with the situation that he went to the new record label and demanded that they pull the song in its entirety, which they obviously refused to do. It wasn’t long after that that the song hit number one on the charts. Wisely, most of the band members decided that it might be a good idea to stop demanding that the song be removed, especially since they had been shooting for a number one hit all along. Despite the fact that this song was their first number one hit, it left a bad taste in their mouths, in a big way. None of the band members liked the song. They didn’t remember it fondly because it gave them their first hit. Instead, they thought of it with disdain because they remembered a song that they didn’t want anything to do with, that wound up on the radio, when they had no say in the matter. That is precisely why the song was rarely played at their concerts involving Henley, if ever.