How Joe Walsh’s Stage Warm-Up Became ‘Life in the Fast Lane’
The third single to be released from the 1976 LP Hotel California reached No.11 the following year, but it had a relatively modest beginning, as Walsh told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.
“We were talking about a rock ’n’ roll song, and Don and Glenn said, ‘Whaddya got?’” he recalled. “I had been playing that to warm up before we were going onstage … just getting all of your circuits working together. I said, ‘Well, I got something – but it’s really hard to play.’ They really liked it. It was a good lick. But all I had was a lick and some jamming in the basic key.”
What happened next was something that would be repeated in the years to come. “Don went away and did what he does, which was ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ and Glenn kind of arranged the song,” Walsh said. “That was kinda the first Henley-Frey-Walsh song that came out of us.”
The song is often seen as glamorizing "life in the fast lane" but in fact Frey designed the lyrics as a warning against it, and believed it helped the Eagles themselves face up to their own lifestyles. "We realized that running around and parties and fast cars are really not the answer," he once said. "It's kind of a shallow way to approach why we're on this planet, and it probably came as a band consciousness."
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