The Eagles maintained rigorous criteria for selecting songs for their albums, ensuring that each track met their high standards rather than serving merely as filler. Despite their success, one of their earliest compositions was shelved for years before it saw the light of day.
Glenn Frey’s journey in music began in the vibrant Los Angeles rock scene after relocating from Detroit. It was there he befriended singer-songwriter J. D. Souther, and their connection sparked through their romantic partners.
Initially, Frey and Souther formed a duo, Longbranch/Pennywhistle, but Frey’s career trajectory shifted when he started working with Linda Ronstadt, leading him to cross paths and eventually form the Eagles with drummer Don Henley, alongside Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon.
J.D. Souther, though pursuing a solo career, remained closely tied to the Eagles, contributing significantly to their songwriting process.
Their collaboration yielded several hits, including the deep cut ‘Victim of Love’ from the iconic Hotel California album. However, there was a tacit understanding within the band to avoid recording songs Souther intended for his solo work.
‘How Long’, a song about enduring love and longing, was one such track. Despite being performed live by the Eagles in their early days, it remained off their studio albums until the 2000s.
The band’s comeback album, Long Road Out of Eden, marked a significant return to the music scene, and ‘How Long’ found its place on this album, inspired by Frey’s family. Watching an old performance online, Frey’s children and wife pointed out not only his memorable hairstyle but also the song’s potential as a hit.
Recorded with the wisdom and experience of their years, ‘How Long’ featured a vocal exchange between Frey and Henley, showcasing the timeless harmony that defines the Eagles’ sound.
This track stood out on Long Road Out of Eden and continued to be a staple in their live performances. In revisiting ‘How Long’, the Eagles not only paid homage to their longstanding connection with Souther but also reaffirmed their mastery in crafting harmonious melodies that resonate with their legacy.