For today’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams gave us Cards/Dice/Gamble/Lose/Win. There are lots of songs that covers those topics, but the one that I chose may not be that obvious. I decided to go with the Eagles’ “Desperado.” How could I not? It’s my wife’s favorite song.
Written by Glenn Frey and Don Henley, “Desperado” appeared on the 1973 album Desperado. Although the song was never released as a single, it is one of the Eagles’ best known songs. I chose it for this week’s prompt because of references to the Queen of Diamonds and the Queen of Hearts.
Ostensibly, this song is about a cowboy who refuses to fall in love, but some have suggested that it’s a metaphor about a young man who discovers guitars, joins a band, pays his dues, and suffers for his art.
Don Henley began writing parts of this in the late ’60s, but it wasn’t arranged into a song until his songwriting teammate Glenn Frey came along. Henley explained in the liner notes for an Eagles compilation album that, “Glenn came over to write one day, and I showed him this unfinished tune that I had been holding for so many years. I said, ‘When I play it and sing it, I think of Ray Charles and Stephen Foster. It’s really a Southern gothic thing, but we can easily make it more Western.’ Glenn jumped right on it, filled in the blanks and brought structure. And that was the beginning of our songwriting partnership. That was when we became a team.”
Linda Ronstadt, who was a huge recording star at the time, recorded this song and released her version on her album Don’t Cry Now, which was issued a few months after the Eagles version. Before the Eagles formed, members of the group played in Ronstadt’s backup band. Her recording of the song gave it a big boost.
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
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, before it’s too late