The Story Behind the Eagles Song Don Henley Called “Corny”

On the surface, “Earlybird” seems to have perfected the Eagles’ formula. It’s a delightful blend of rock and country flavors that would complement a sunny California day well. Nevertheless, there was one band member who found the song to be a little heavy-handed in the sound effects department.

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Early in the morning
About the break of day
The earlybird is working
So his life don’t fade away

“Earlybird” was written by Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner–as opposed to the titular songwriting partnership of Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Despite that, it has everything you’d want in an Eagles song: sunny melodies, country accouterments, and strong harmonies.

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While we think “Earlybird” stands out in the Eagles’ catalog, there are elements of the song that feel a little stale. The beginning and end of this song feature a bird chirping sound effect that feels a little more robotic than it should. Of course, it’s meant to be a nod to the song’s title, but the band likely could’ve left it out and still ended up with a stellar song. We’re not alone in that opinion.

According to Henley, he found the bird chirping to be “corny.” “I thought – and still think – it was corny, but it wasn’t my song,” Henley once said. “Adding the chirping sounds was the decision of both the song’s author and our producer. Forty-four years later, it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

You know it makes feel so fine
And sets my mind at ease to
Know that I don’t harm a soul
In doing what I please

Revisit the track, below. Do you agree with Henley that the chirping takes away from this song? Or are you on Leadon and Meisner’s team and enjoy the natural sound effects?

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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