46 Years Ago: The Eagles Release ‘Lyin’ Eyes,’ Earn a Country Hit
The Eagles have had an indelible impact on several decades' worth of country music, so it's perhaps surprising that the country-rockers have only scored one true country hit in the entire course of their career. "Lyin' Eyes" is the iconic group's only Top 10 country hit.
"Lyin' Eyes" — released in August of 1975 — was one of the strongest songwriting collaborations between Eagles mainstays Glenn Frey and Don Henley. The pair were inspired by a random observation one of the band members made one night at a popular Los Angeles watering hole called Dan Tana's.
"One night, we were drinking in a bar when I spotted this stunning young woman; two steps behind her was a much older, fat, rich guy," Frey says in the Hell Freezes Over concert DVD (quote via Ultimate Cassic Rock). "We all started laughing, and one of the other guys commented, ‘Look at her, she can’t even hide those lyin’ eyes!’ Immediately, we all began grabbing for cocktail napkins to write down lyrics to go with that great observation."
The song tells the story of a lonely young woman who married a wealthy older man for security, and finds herself conducting an illicit affair to experience the passion she's missing. It's a perfect example of the stellar song craftsmanship and musical and vocal arrangements that made the Eagles one of the most successful groups of the rock era, and as Frey explains, it came together relatively easily.
Henley and Frey were living together at that time in a Beverly Hills home once owned by early movie star Dorothy Lamour, and they returned to the house to write the song.
"I don’t want to say it wrote itself, but once we started working on it, there were no sticking points," Frey recalls. "Lyrics just kept coming out, and that’s not always the way songs get written. I think songwriting is a lot like pushing a boulder up a hill."
Henley credits Frey with the bulk of the songwriting for "Lyin' Eyes."
"Glenn’s pretty much responsible for that track and for the title, the choruses," he told Cameron Crowe in the liner notes to the Very Best of the Eagles. "I helped out with the verses and perhaps with the melody. It’s really Glenn’s baby."
Released as the second single from One of These Nights, "Lyin' Eyes" became a huge crossover hit for the Eagles, reaching No. 2 on Billboard's all-genre Hot 100 chart and No. 8 on the Hot Country Singles chart. It remains the band's only genuine country chart hit, and won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance By a Group.
See Inside Glenn Frey's Sprawling California Mansion: