Song Lyric Sunday — Just Say the Word

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams is asking us to focus on songs with one-word titles. There are tons of such songs, but the one I chose is “Desperado.”

“Desperado” was a song by the The Eagles and was written by band members Glenn Frey and Don Henley. It appeared on their 1973 album Desperado, which, overall, had an Old West theme. Henley began writing some of the lyrics in the late ’60s. He said it was written in the style of old songs by Stephen Foster, and when he played and sang it, he thought of Ray Charles and Stephen Foster. He said that the song was originally about a friend named Leo and began with “Leo, my God, why don’t you come to your senses….”

The song wasn’t arranged into its final form until Henley’s songwriting teammate, Glenn Frey, came along. “Desperado” was the first of many songs Henley and Frey wrote together. According to Henley, he played Frey the unfinished version of the song, who thought they could give it more of a country-rock sound. Frey “leapt right on it, filled in the blanks, and brought structure to the song.”

“Desperado” was the last song The Eagles performed in concert with Glenn Frey. It closed out their show in Bossier City, Louisiana on July 29, 2015, the last stop on their History of The Eagles tour. Frey died about six months later.

Linda Ronstadt recorded this song and released it on her 1973 album Don’t Cry Now a few months after The Eagles’ Desperado album was issued. Don Henley and Glenn Frey had toured as part of Ronstadt’s backing band in 1971 and formed The Eagles shortly after playing on her 1972 self-titled album, which also featured the two members they recruited to round out the group: Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon.

On the surface, this song is about a cowboy — perhaps an outlaw — who refuses to fall in love. Or maybe who is longing for love but can’t find it. Some suggest that it could also be about a young man who discovers guitars, joins a band, pays his dues and suffers for his art. The stress of being a rock star is a recurring theme in The Eagles’ music. The overall theme is how you must suffer for your art.

For what it’s worth, “Desperado” is my wife’s favorite song, although she favors the Linda Ronstadt version to The Eagles original. She says that the song brings tears to her eyes every time she hears it.

Here are the lyrics to “Desperado.”

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
You been out ridin’ fences for so long now
Oh, you’re a hard one
But I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow

Don’t you draw the Queen of Diamonds, boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet

Now, it seems to me some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get

Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home

And freedom, oh freedom, well that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day
You’re losin’ all your highs and lows
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you (let somebody love you)
You better let somebody love you
Before it’s too late

14 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Just Say the Word

  1. newepicauthor April 11, 2021 / 6:33 am

    I always looked at this song as it was about somebody giving advice to one of his friends. The Queen of Diamonds is clearly a rich girl who looks desirable, but she is not right for him, so he needs to chose the Queen of Hearts, because she will love him. If you don’t let somebody love you, you will never be happy. Linda did a good job with this, but I will stick with the Eagles version. Linda does have a great voice and that pedal steel is awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maggie April 11, 2021 / 7:49 am

    Absolutely perfect selection for today. They don’t get much better than this?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Abject Muse April 11, 2021 / 9:05 am

    This is one hell of a song, IMO. Love it! Could’ve been written for me, in fact. Beautiful choice, Fandango!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. leigha66 April 16, 2021 / 3:58 pm

    Great song choice, didn’t know anyone besides the Eagles recorded it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. aisasami April 18, 2021 / 8:10 am

    I have been hearing this song more often these days, I wonder why? It is a great song though!

    Liked by 1 person

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