Why Vince Gill Called One Don Henley Song “Lame”

Why Vince Gill Called One Don Henley Song “Lame” | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via Taste of Country / Youtube

Have you ever doubted a song’s greatness? Even the most iconic tracks can have surprising origins. In a recent interview with Guitar World, guitarist Vince Gill spilled the tea on his Eagles experience.

Gill, known for his masterful musicianship, revealed a hilarious interaction with bandmate Don Henley, where they talked about a song that was initially deemed…well, not-so-hit-worthy.

Gill recounts how he called the Eagles classic “Desperado” a “lame” song in front of a straight-faced Henley. The latter even added that the song was his very first contribution to the Eagles, which is now synonymous with the band’s legacy.

A Missed Opportunity To Improve A Future Classic

Henley was dissatisfied with the recording. The Eagles leader, reflecting on the experience in a 2015 interview with Mojo magazine, admitted to feeling like a nervous wreck. He also yearned for the chance to revisit the song in the studio, and even re-record the classic if he can.

The blame, according to Henley, partially falls on the producer, Glyn Johns. While Henley emphasizes their continued friendship, he feels Johns prioritized efficiency over quality. This resulted in limited takes for “Desperado”, leaving Henley with a lingering sense of what could have been.

But despite that, the song still gave Henley the sway at the initial stages of the band. When Gill brought up the song to Henley in their conversation, he did not mince his words. “Don Henley told me the first song he wrote for the Eagles was ‘Desperado,’ and I said, ‘Oh, come on, man! You started with the lame stuff!’ He started laughing and said, ‘No, that was the first one,’ which, jokes aside, is a great example of the catalogue.”

A Classic Born in the Sixties

“Desperado” actually has roots that predate the band itself. Don Henley wrote it back in the 1960s, well before the Eagles even formed in 1971. The song wouldn’t be released until 1973, during the band’s early years.

Although it was never released as a single, it became one of the most recognizable Eagles songs after it was released as the title track of their second album in 1973.

While Linda Ronstadt’s cover later propelled “Desperado” to global fame and solidified it as an Eagles staple, Henley revealed in interviews that this work of his, being his first contribution, gave him the jitters during the recording.

It also didn’t help that the bored orchestral musicians were relaxing while he was being a “nervous wreck”, even playing chess during breaks; this only added to his intimidation. 

Vince Gill Has Complex Feelings About Being Part Of The Band

Following the tragic passing of Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey in 2017, the band needed to fill the void. Recognizing Vince Gill’s immense talent and his longtime admiration for both the Eagles and Frey’s solo work, they offered him the role. Gill, a true fan himself, readily accepted.

His debut came in grand fashion at a Dodger Stadium concert later that same year. Since then, both Gill and Deacon Frey, Glenn’s son, have become permanent fixtures in the band, touring extensively throughout the 2010s and into the 2020s. Their commitment extends to the Eagles’ farewell tour, scheduled to conclude in 2025.

Despite the honor of joining such a legendary band, Gill’s feelings are complex. In a 2018 interview, he expressed his deep gratitude to the remaining Eagles for choosing him. However, a bittersweet sentiment hangs in the air. “In my heart of hearts I wish I wasn’t doing it,” he admitted, acknowledging that his presence signifies a loss the band can’t overcome.

Ultimately, though, he embraces the responsibility: “Life is what it is,” he says, “and you just go do what you can do because of what happens. Those songs deserve to live on as long as they can.”