Seven Bridges Road
|"Seven Bridges Road"|
|Single by Steve Young|
|from the album Rock Salt & Nails|
|"Seven Bridges Road"|
|Single by Eagles|
|from the album Eagles Live|
|B-side||"The Long Run (live)" (4:08)|
|Released||December 15, 1980|
|Recorded||July 28, 1980|
|Eagles singles chronology|
"Seven Bridges Road" is a song written by American musician Steve Young, recorded in 1969 for his Rock Salt & Nails album. It has since been covered by many artists, the best-known version being a five-part harmony arrangement by English musician Iain Matthews recorded by the American rock band the Eagles in 1980.
Steve Young was inspired to eventually write "Seven Bridges Road" during a sojourn in Montgomery, Alabama in the early 1960s: according to Young "a group of friends...showed me [a] road [that] led out of town...after you had crossed seven bridges you found yourself out in the country on a dirt road. Spanish moss hung in the trees and there were old farms with old fences and graveyards and churches and streams. A high bank dirt road with trees. It seemed like a Disney fantasy at times. People went there to park or get stoned or just to get away from it all. I thought my friends had made up the name 'Seven Bridges Road'. I found out later that it had been called by that name for over a hundred years."
Woodley Road, a rural road running south from the outskirts of Montgomery which features seven bridges, is generally identified as the song's locale, although Young himself has never evidently endorsed this identification. In his book My Heart Is in the Earth: True Stories of Alabama & Mexico (Red River Publishing/ 2001) Alabaman journalist Wayne Greenhaw relates that on a Sunday in spring Greenhaw and Steve Young accompanied by Jimmy Evans (de) drove down Woodley Road to Orion for a guitar jam session with bluesman C. P. Austin, and that it was on the return trip up Woodley Road that Young began the composition of "Seven Bridges Road".
Composition and recording
Young wrote "Seven Bridges Road" in the mid-1960s and would recall: "It was put together over a period of several years. Sometimes I'd say [to myself] 'good song'. Then I'd say nobody could relate to a song like this." Young did play a completed version of the song at a gig in Montgomery and would recall: "it got a big reaction. I was very surprised and thought it just because it was a local known thing and that was why they liked it." When Young did approach a Hollywood-based music publisher in 1969 with "Seven Bridges Road" he was advised the song "wasn't commercial enough." "Seven Bridges Road" was not originally intended for inclusion on the Rock Salt & Nails album; in fact, Young states album producer Tommy LiPuma "didn't want me to record original songs. He wanted me to be strictly a singer and interpreter of folk songs and country standards."
However, in Young's words: "One day we ran out of songs to record [for Rock Salt & Nails] in the studio... I started playing 'Seven Bridges Road'. LiPuma interjected: 'You know I don't want to hear original stuff.' But [guitarist] James Burton said: 'Hey, this song sounds good and it is ready, let's put it down... After it was recorded, LiPuma had to admit that, original or not, it was good." Subsequent to the song's introduction on Rock Salt & Nails, Young remade the song twice, on his 1972 album entitled Seven Bridges Road and on his 1978 album No Place to Fall.
In a 1981 interview Young would say of "Seven Bridges Road": "Consciously when I wrote it, it was just a song about a girl and a road in south Alabama. Now I think there's almost a mystical thing about it."
The Eagles recorded "Seven Bridges Road" for their Eagles Live concert album, essentially replicating the arrangement of the 1973 Iain Matthews version. According to band member Don Felder, when the Eagles first began playing stadiums the group would warm up pre-concert by singing "Seven Bridges Road" in a locker room shower area: each concert would then open with the group's five members singing "Seven Bridges Road" a capella into a single microphone. Felder recalls that it "blew [the audience] away. It was always a vocally unifying moment, all five voices coming together in harmony." Following the release of the Hotel California album, that set's title cut replaced "Seven Bridges Road" as the Eagles' concert opener, and according to Felder, the band "rarely even bothered to rehearse with it in the shower of the dressing room anymore." The song was restored to the set list for the Eagles' tour prior to the band's July 31, 1980 breakup with the band's performance of the song at their July 28, 1980 concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium being recorded for the Eagles Live album released in November 1980. Issued as a single, with "The Long Run" (live) as its B-side, the Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road" reached #21 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 becoming the group's final Top 40 hit until "Get Over It" by the reunited band in 1994. "Seven Bridges Road" also became the third Eagles' single to appear on the Billboard C&W chart, there reaching #55. At the time the Eagles' charted with "Seven Bridges Road" the song's composer Steve Young commented: "I didn't like the Eagles' version at first. I thought it was too bluegrassy, too gospel. But the more I hear it, the better it sounds."
Ricochet, who had been performing "Seven Bridges Road" in concert, recorded the song in 1998 in the sessions for the intended album release What a Ride. After two advance singles from What a Ride: "Honky Tonk Baby" and "Can't Stop Thinkin' 'Bout That", had fallen short of the Top 40 of the C&W chart, the track "Seven Bridges Road" was sent to C&W radio stations in April 1999 and a video was prepared to promote the track. Shot in sepia tone and mostly comprising footage shot on Woodley Road where trysting couples were shown at various times during the 20th century, the video for "Seven Bridges Road" received strong support from CMT: however the track itself only rose to #48 on the C&W chart, and the release of its parent What a Ride album was canceled. "Seven Bridges Road" was included on the 2000 Ricochet album release What You Leave Behind with the track serving as B-side of that album's first single "Do I Love You Enough". "Seven Bridges Road" is performed live by Ricochet on the band's 2004 concert album The Live Album.
- 1970 - Eddy Arnold on his album Standing Alone
- 1970 - Joan Baez on her album One Day at a Time as a duet with Jeffrey Shurtleff
- 1970 - Rita Coolidge on her album Rita Coolidge
- 1970 - Tracy Nelson/Mother Earth on her album Bring Me Home
- 1973 - Ian Matthews on his album Valley Hi: this 4/4 time version introduced the arrangement which, with minor modifications, would be followed by the Eagles.
- 1981 - Neal Hellman on his album Appalachian Dulcimer Duets
- 1982 - Josh Graves on his album King of the Dobro
- 1982 - Lonzo and Oscar on their album Old and New Songs
- 1983 - Atlanta recorded "Seven Bridges Road" in the sessions for their Pictures album: omitted from Pictures the track served as B-side for the single "Sweet Country Music" (#5 C&W 1984)
- 1990 - The Carter Family on their album Wildwood Flower
- 1996 - FireHouse on their album Good Acoustics
- 2001 - Dolly Parton on her album Little Sparrow. Parton was a fan of the Eagles' version especially liking its harmonies: for her version Parton sang harmony with sisters Becky and Sonya Isaacs.
- 2002 - Full Frontal Folk on their album "Storming the Castle."
- 2003 - Jimmy Bowen & Santa Fe on their album A Place So Far Away
- 2006 - The Dolly Parton compilation The Acoustic Collection: 1999-2002 features a remix of the Little Sparrow version augmented with vocals by Kasey Chambers, Norah Jones, and Sinéad O'Connor.
- 2007 - Alan Jackson recorded the song for the album Live at Texas Stadium with George Strait and Jimmy Buffett.
- 2007 - Nash Street on their album Carry On
- 2015 - Home Free (group) on their album "Country Evolution"
- 2015 - Jubal & Amanda cover the song selection moments on the lives of The Voice (U.S. season 9).
- "Interview: Steve Young". Music-Illuminati.com. Retrieved 2014-06-09.
- "My Heart Is in the Earth: an interview with author Wayne Greenhaw by Joyce Dixon". SouthernScribe.com. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
- "My Heart Is in the Earth: true stories of Alabama & Mexico by Wayne Greenhaw/ review by Joyce Dixon". SouthernScribe.com. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
- "Gadsden Times". Gadsden Times (January 28, 1981): 6.
- Einarson, John (2001). Desperados: the roots of country rock. New York: 1st Cooper Square Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-8154-1065-2.
- "American Songwriter". Retrieved 2013-05-02.
- Felder, Don (2008). Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974–2001). Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons. pp. a 124 b 181. ISBN 978-0470450420.
- "Eagles chart history". Allmusic. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
- Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 351. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.