The musical relationship between The Eagles and Steely Dan has been an intriguing mix of rivalry and mutual respect, particularly evident in the 1970s.
The seeds of this relationship were planted when Steely Dan included a reference to The Eagles in their 1976 song ‘Everything You Did,’ from ‘The Royal Scam’ album.
The lyric “Turn up The Eagles, the neighbors are listening” sparked speculation. Some suggested it was inspired by Walter Becker’s frustration with his girlfriend’s fondness for The Eagles, leading to debates about whether it was a subtle dig or an acknowledgment of their music.
Responding to this, The Eagles included a lyrical nod to Steely Dan in their iconic song ‘Hotel California.’ Initially, the song was directly named Steely Dan, but the band later opted for a more oblique reference, changing “Dan” to “knives.” Glenn Frey, a member of The Eagles, explained this choice as a way to hint at Steely Dan rather than explicitly mention them, adding a layer of creative expression to the rivalry.
Despite these back-and-forth references, both bands have maintained a friendly relationship over the years. Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles contributed to Steely Dan albums like ‘The Royal Scam’ and ‘Aja.’ There was even an attempt for Don Henley to join in on backing vocals for Steely Dan’s 1977 song ‘Peg,’ although it didn’t materialize.
The interplay between these two influential bands showcases how artistic rivalry can coexist with mutual respect and collaboration, adding an interesting layer to the history of rock music.