5 Facts About The Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight” Most Fans Don’t Know
Heartache is a feeling we’ve all been through, and it’s been the inspiration behind some of the greatest songs in music history. The Eagles captured this emotion perfectly with their timeless hit, “Heartache Tonight,” which kicked off their 1979 album, The Long Run. Let’s delve into five fascinating facts about this iconic song that many fans might not be aware of.
Sam Cooke’s Influence
The magic of “Heartache Tonight” is rooted in the soulful sounds of Sam Cooke. Songwriters JD Souther and Glenn Frey found inspiration in Cooke’s music, which they would sing and snap their fingers to while crafting the song. Souther even mentioned, “The melody sounds very much like those Sam Cooke shuffles.” This influence laid the foundation for the song’s distinctive blend of classic rock and blues.
Bob Seger’s Lightning Rod Moment
The chorus of “Heartache Tonight” proved to be a bit elusive during its creation. It wasn’t until a phone call with Bob Seger that everything fell into place. Glenn Frey sang the song to Seger, who immediately joined in with the chorus. This collaboration led to a chorus that felt like a lightning rod, perfectly complementing the song’s energy and emotion.
The James Cagney Estate Inspiration
Glenn Frey was living in the James Cagney Estate when he was working on “Heartache Tonight.” The house, though not very large, provided the perfect creative space. With one bedroom and a spacious living room, Frey set up Don Henley’s drums in the living area, where the magic happened. This unique setting played a crucial role in the song’s creation.
Joe Walsh and Don Henley’s Musical Touch
After the chorus was solidified, Joe Walsh and Don Henley added their musical expertise to the mix. Walsh took up the bass, while Henley hopped on the drums. Their contributions elevated the song’s musicality to a whole new level, giving it the distinctive sound that fans love.
“Heartache Tonight” highlights the idea that sometimes, simplicity is key. The song’s structure, with just two long verses and a catchy chorus, showcases how a powerful melody and heartfelt lyrics can create a musical masterpiece. This simplicity didn’t diminish its impact; in fact, it propelled the song to the top of the charts, earning The Eagles a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.