James Dean (song)

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"James Dean"
Single by Eagles
from the album On the Border
B-side"Good Day in Hell"
ReleasedAugust 14, 1974
GenreHard rock, rock and roll,[1] rockabilly[2]
Songwriter(s)Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Jackson Browne, J. D. Souther
Producer(s)Bill Szymczyk
Eagles singles chronology
"Already Gone"
"James Dean"
"Best of My Love"

"James Dean" is a song written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Jackson Browne, and J. D. Souther, and recorded by the American rock band Eagles for their 1974 album On the Border. It was the second single released from this album, reaching number 77 on the U.S. pop singles chart.[3]

The song is about American actor James Dean (1931–1955) who starred in such films as Rebel Without a Cause, Giant and East of Eden. The lyrics, "too fast to live, too young to die" refer to the life and abrupt death of Dean in a car crash in 1955.[4] Bernie Leadon played the guitar solo.[5]


"James Dean" was first written as for an album originally intended to have a theme on anti-heroes. According to Glenn Frey, he together with Don Henley, Jackson Browne, and J. D. Souther were jamming together after attending a Tim Hardin show at the Troubadour in 1972, and they came up the idea about doing an album about anti-heroes.[6] From this came the songs "Doolin-Dalton" and "James Dean". The album however evolved into a wild-west themed album Desperado which was released in 1973, and "James Dean" was shelved. When recording began for On the Border, the song was immediately pulled off the shelf and completed.[7] The song was written mostly by Jackson Browne according to Henley.[6]

The B-side "Good Day in Hell" is notable for being the first Eagles track recorded with Don Felder, who joined the band midway through the sessions for the album.



Chart (1974) Peak
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[8] 56
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 77

External links[edit]


  1. ^ William Ruhlmann. "On the Border - Eagles". AllMusic.
  2. ^ Ed Masley, (September 30, 2014). "10/1: 5 essential Eagles albums- 'Hotel to 'Border'". The Republic. AZ Central.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. ^ "Billboard Hot 100: October 12, 1974". Billboard.
  4. ^ Maury Dean (2003). Rock and Roll: Gold Rush. Algora Publishing. p. 406. ISBN 9780875862279.
  5. ^ Eliot, Marc (2004). To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles. Da Capo Press. p. 313. ISBN 9780306813986.
  6. ^ a b Cameron Crowe (August 2003). "Conversations With Don Henley and Glenn Frey". The Uncool.
  7. ^ The Very Best Of (CD). Eagles. Warner Music Group. 2003. R2 73971.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 3881b." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  9. ^ "Eagles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.