Ranking the Top 5 Songs from the Eagles’ Third Album ‘On the Border’

On the Border, released in 1974 as the Eagles‘ third album, found the band transitioning ever-so subtly away from the country rock vibes of their first two records. It also proved that they could make it big with a ballad, as “Best of My Love” gave them their first No. 1 pop hit.

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This album doesn’t get ballyhooed like some of the band’s subsequent offerings. But it’s a rock-solid set from top to bottom, making it hard to choose just five out of the 10 tracks for acclaim. We’re going to give it a shot anyway.

5. “Already Gone”

This rocker was a perfect track to start the album, as it featured just enough of the countryish feel from previous records to make for a smooth transition to the harder edge that they wanted to deliver. On “Already Gone,” that edge largely comes from the lead guitar work of Don Felder, a new member of the band at that time. Felder only made a few appearances on the album, but he made his presence felt here. The fun, rollicking feel of the lyrics come courtesy of co-writers Robb Strandlund and Jack Tempchin, the latter of whom also wrote “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” for the group.

4. “You Never Cry Like a Lover”

You can hear in this track the DNA of future sweeping ballads from the band, such as “Wasted Time” and “The Sad Cafe.” Writers JD Souther, another frequent collaborator with the band, and Don Henley let the structure of the song go where it will, which allows for a bit more musical heft than you might expect in a slower song like this. The narrator is desperately trying to find signs of deep emotion from his lover, fearing that the lack thereof indicates she’s heading out the door pretty soon. Henley sings the tar out of the song, while the harmonies are ever-gleaming.

3. “On the Border”

Henley, Glenn Frey, and Bernie Leadon shared writing credits on the title track, and they all chip in on the vocals (along with Randy Meisner). In fact, the inventive way the vocalists trade off lines as if playing different characters is one of the more fun aspects of the track. There’s some subtle social commentary in here, but mostly, this one is just played for laughs. And for a band that often wore their solemnity as a badge of honor, that humor is appreciated. Give points as well to “On the Border” for sinking into a little bit of a funk groove that was somewhat of a new approach for the band.

2. “Best of My Love”

At some point in time, the band realized that Don Henley was an exceptional singer on the slow, soulful stuff, and they began to funnel material like that toward him ever more frequently. Henley also had a knack for writing songs like that. On “Best of My Love,” he collaborated with Frey and Souther for a song that wouldn’t wake you if you’d already dozed off on the porch, so soft and restrained is its approach. But it might induce wistful dreams, ones where you cherish the times you’ve spent with someone you love even as you feel them pulling away from you.

1. “My Man”

Not only is it the finest song on this album, but “My Man” is one of the best things the Eagles ever did. It’s certainly their most underrated track, and it’s Bernie Leadon’s shining moment in his brief time with the band, as he writes a touching farewell to his once-bandmate Gram Parsons. Aside from a specific reference to “Hickory Wind,” however, Leadon’s lyrics speak in a general way to the odd feeling of being left behind after someone about whom you care a great deal passes away. When that melody turns and those harmonies coat the line We who must remain / Go on living just the same, good luck keeping those eyes dry.

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