The Top 5 Versions of “Desperado”

Eagles wrote it, Linda Ronstadt helped make it popular, and several others added their own twist.

We all know “Desperado” is an incredible song. Don Henley began writing parts of it in the late 60s, but it wasn’t completed until Glenn Frey stepped in. Henley even noted that this song was the beginning of their songwriting partnership, “that’s when we became a team.” It was recorded in early 1973, and although it was never released as a single, it is one of Eagles best-known songs and ranked #494 on Rolling Stone‘s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. “Desperado” has been covered by country stars, pop music icons, and rock legends, so let’s take a look at a few of our favorites.

#1. Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt recorded this song and released her version on her album, Don’t Cry Now, just months after the original. Before Eagles were formed, members of the group played in Ronstadt’s backing band. Her version gave the song a huge boost, or in Don Henley’s words, “It was really her that popularized the song. Her version was very poignant and beautiful.”

#2. Clint Black

Clint Black was rewarded the honor of recording “Desperado” for the Eagles Tribute album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles. His rendition went to #54 on the Hot Country Songs chart in the United States.

#3. Johnny Cash

The legend covered everything from Depeche Mode to Nine Inch Nails throughout his illustrious career. He also added this song to the list on his 2002 album American IV: The Man Comes Around. Don Henley even added his own voice for backup vocals on the track.

#4. The Carpenters

The Carpenters included a cover of “Desperado” on their 1975 album Horizon. Since the song was already well known, the record label decided not to release it as a single.

#5. Eagles

We couldn’t complete this list without including the original version, specifically this one from the legendary reunion concert, Hell Freezes Over. Give it a listen here and check out the full concert this Sunday at 10/9c on AXS TV.


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