36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 11 — “Life in the Fast Lane”

Artist: The Eagles

Why this song is an adrenaline rush: If there was ever any doubt that Joe Walsh is one of the most spectacularly gifted guitarists in the history of rock, the opening riff of “Life in the Fast Lane” should dispel said doubt.  And if there was ever any doubt that Walsh playing alongside Don “Fingers” Felder was one of the most potent two-guitarist combinations in the history of rock, the dueling break at the bridge of “Life in the Fast Lane” should kill that, too. Plus, the lyrics are classic L.A. cool.

Lyric line that’s fun to belt at maximum volume:

He said, “Call the doctor — I think I’m gonna crash.”
“Doctor says he’s comin’, but you gotta pay him cash.”

Fun factoids:

  • “Life in the Fast Lane” represented one of Joe Walsh’s first musical contributions to The Eagles, which he joined shortly before the band recorded Hotel California, the album on which the song appears. According to legend, Walsh improvised his signature guitar part during an Eagles rehearsal, and his new bandmates Glenn Frey and Don Henley wrote the rest of the song around the riff.
  • Walsh replaced founding Eagle Bernie Leadon, who left the band in dissatisfaction with Henley and Frey’s changing musical direction, which gradually deemphasized Leadon’s preferred country/bluegrass-flavored style in favor of harder-edged rock. Leadon announced his departure from the band by pouring a beer over Glenn Frey’s head.
  • There used to be a roller coaster named “Life in the Fast Lane” at the short-lived Hard Rock amusement park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
  • Although I’ve followed the common convention of preceding the name with “The” — because it reads awkwardly to do otherwise — the band’s official name for legal purposes is simply “Eagles.” All of the band’s album covers omit the article as well. (I’ve been a fan for more than 35 years, but I never noticed this until I read Don Felder’s memoir, Heaven and Hell: My Life With The Eagles.)
  • My friend Donna loves The Eagles more than life itself. She just wanted you to know that.

Other songs by The Eagles that I could have chosen instead: “Already Gone,” “Hotel California,” “Victim of Love,” “Heartache Tonight,” “Those Shoes.”

[Late to the party? Here’s an explanation of 36 Days of Adrenaline.]

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2 Comments on “36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 11 — “Life in the Fast Lane””

  1. Donna Says:

    I’m surprised that you never picked up on the fact that the article “The” never appeared on their album covers. I whole heartedly agree that “Life in the Fast Lane” is an adrenaline rush. Another choice of mine for such a rush is “Heartache Tonight”.

    A very dear friend of mine from high school and I were riding through San Francisco enroute to San Jose three decades ago. In his cassette deck playing was the tape “The Long Run”. Whenever I hear “Heartache Tonight”, I remember that warm spring day long ago and my ride through the city with him. It’s a real sweet memory.

    I do love the Eagles more than life itself. I’m sure you can think of two ways in which I honor them. I’ve seem them in concert three times; each time was fabulous! Joe Walsh is one damn fine guitar player. He can play the guitar, chew gum and sing all at the same time! I’ve only ever seen one other guitarist in concert who can do that; Peter Frampton.

  2. Don from Oregon Says:

    Please note
    The Opening riff of “Life in the Fast Lane” was completely appropriated from the Doobie Brothers 1971 recording of Randy Newmans “The Beehive State”. Listen to that (did I mention it was from 1971?) and then be amazed at how great Joe Walsh is.
    I’m just sayin…


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