Take It to the Limit (Eagles song)

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"Take It to the Limit"
Take it to the Limit.jpg
European picture sleeve, mistitling "Take It To the Limit" as "Take It To the Limits"
Single by Eagles
from the album One of These Nights
B-side "After the Thrill is Gone"
Released November 15, 1975
Format 7"
Recorded 1975
Genre Soft rock
Length 3:48 (single version)
4:48 (album version)
Label Asylum
Songwriter(s) Randy Meisner, Don Henley, Glenn Frey
Producer(s) Bill Szymczyk
Eagles singles chronology
"Lyin' Eyes"
(1975)
"Take It to the Limit"
(1975)
"New Kid in Town"
(1976)

"Lyin' Eyes"
(1975)
"Take It to the Limit"
(1975)
"New Kid in Town"
(1976)

"Take It to the Limit" is a song by the Eagles from their fourth album One of These Nights from which it was issued as the third single on November 15, 1975. It reached No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and was also the Eagles' greatest success to that point in the UK, going to No. 12 on the charts. Billboard ranked it as the No. 25 song for 1976.[1]

The song was written by Eagles' members Randy Meisner, Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Meisner, who sang lead on it, says the song began as his solo composition. As it remained unfinished when time came for the One of These Nights album to be recorded, Henley and Frey assisted Meisner in completing it. Meisner's performance of the song was popular with the audience in Eagles' concerts, but disputes over his reluctance to perform it would also directly lead to Meisner's departure from the band.

Background[edit]

According to Meisner, he wrote the first few lines of the song one night while playing an acoustic guitar after returning from the Troubadour; however he was not able to finish the song by the time they were close to recording it, and Frey and Henley then helped him with the lyrics.[2] Meisner later said of how he would usually write songs with the Eagles: "I'd get a verse or two, and I'm done, and they would help fill in the blanks"[3]

On the meaning of the song, Meisner said in the documentary History of the Eagles: "The line 'take it to the limit' was to keep trying before you reach a point in your life where you feel you've done everything and seen everything, sort of feeling, you know, part of getting old. And just to take it to the limit one more time, like every day just keep, you know, punching away at it ... That was the line, and from there the song took a different course."[4]

Meisner sings lead on "Take it to the Limit" and the song was released as the third single from the album One of These Nights. It is the first and only Eagles single where Meisner sings lead.

Recordings[edit]

"Take It to the Limit" is unique in the canon of the band's singles, being the sole A-side on which Randy Meisner sang lead, as well as the first A-side Eagles single on which neither Henley nor Frey sang lead. It was also the last Eagles single to feature founding member Bernie Leadon before he was replaced by guitarist Joe Walsh. The single version of the song is 3:48 in length, almost a minute shorter than the album version. "Take It to the Limit" is one of few Eagles' tracks written in waltz time. (Other notable waltzes performed by the Eagles are "Hollywood Waltz"; the Meisner/Henley/Frey waltz "Saturday Night" (co-written with Leadon) from the 1973 Desperado album; Frey's "Most of Us are Sad" from their self-titled debut album; Frey/Henley/JD Souther's hard-rocking "Teenage Jail" from 1979's "The Long Run" album; and Walsh's "Pretty Maids All in a Row" on the 1976 album Hotel California.)[5]

A live performance by Meisner from 1976, recorded at The Forum, Inglewood, California, is included in the album Eagles Live, which was released in 1980 after the band had effectively broken up.

The song was rerecorded on Meisner's first solo album (Randy Meisner) released in 1978. The song was performed with piano and acoustic guitar accompaniment, and 1970s teen idol David Cassidy singing in the backing vocals.[6]

Live performances[edit]

According to Frey, fans of the band loved Meisner's performance of his signature song "Take It to the Limit" at concert. As Henley puts it: "They went crazy when Randy hit those high notes".[7] Meisner, however, was concerned about not being able to hit the high notes, but Frey was insistent that Meisner should perform the song in concert for the fans, and live performances of the song then became a source of great contention between Frey and Meisner, and would eventually become one reason for Meisner leaving the band.

Meisner had been struggling to hit the crucial high notes in the song during the Hotel California tour. According to Joe Walsh, Meisner could perform the song, but would become nervous when told he had to sing it.[7] By the time they had reached Knoxville, Tennessee in June 1977, the band was feeling the strain of a long tour, with Meisner unhappy and suffering from a stomach ulcer.[8] Meisner decided not to sing the song for an encore because he had been up late and caught the flu,[9] Frey and Meisner then became involved in an angry physical confrontation backstage over Meisner's refusal to perform the song.[7] After the altercation, Meisner was frozen out from the band and he decided to leave.[8] He left the band at the end of their tour in September 1977[10] and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit, coincidentally the same bassist who had replaced him in Poco.

The song was revived for the Eagles' late 1999 shows at Los Angeles' Staples Center and at those shows, as well as the Eagles' Farewell 1 Tour in 2004 and 2005 and on subsequent tours, the song was sung by Frey. Originally in B major, the song was transposed down to G major to accommodate for Frey's vocal range. For the band's 2017 shows, lead vocals were taken by Vince Gill and was again transposed to A major.

Personnel[edit]

Live version from 1976:

Chart performance[edit]


Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings version[edit]

"Take It to the Limit"
Single by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings
from the album Take It to the Limit
B-side "'Til I Gain Control Again"
Released October 8, 1983
Genre Country
Length 3:50
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Randy Meisner, Don Henley, Glenn Frey
Producer(s) Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings
Willie Nelson singles chronology
"Why Do I Have to Choose"
(1983) Why Do I Have to Choose1983
"Take It to the Limit"
(1983) Take It to the Limit1983
"Without a Song"
(1984) Without a Song1984
Waylon Jennings singles chronology
"Hold On, I'm Comin'"
(1983) Hold On, I'm Comin'1983
"Take It to the Limit"
(1983) Take It to the Limit1983
"The Conversation"
(1983) The Conversation1983

The song was covered by country musicians Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings as the title track of their duet album, Take It to the Limit, which was released in 1983.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1983–1984) Peak
position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[22] 1
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[23] 8
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[24] 2
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[25] 31

Other versions[edit]

  • Dave Mason covered this song.
  • The song was covered by Jill Lancaster for the 1977 Christo documentary Running Fence.
  • The song was covered in 1977 by Etta James for her album Deep in the Night.
  • Cher performed the song on her first solo tour in 1979–1980 and again in 1989–1990 on the Heart of Stone Tour.
  • In 1993, Suzy Bogguss recorded the song for the album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles.
  • Sarah Dougher covered it on her 1999 album Day One.
  • Richard Marx would regularly cover this song in concert. One 1987 performance, which was filmed, included both Meisner and Timothy B. Schmit, marking the only time (outside of the Eagles' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) the two former Eagles and Poco bassists shared a stage. Meisner played 12-string acoustic guitar and Schmit sang backing vocals.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1976
  2. ^ Harvey Kubernik, Scott Calamar (October 7, 2009). Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon. Sterling. p. 281. ISBN 978-1-4027-6589-6. 
  3. ^ History of the Eagles. 2013. Event occurs at 50:55–51:57. 
  4. ^ History of the Eagles. 2013. Event occurs at 1:12:40–1:13:40. 
  5. ^ Marcus, Greil (2007). Stranded: Rock and roll for a desert island (2nd Da Capo Press ed.). New York: Da Capo Press (Perseus Books Group). p. 87. ISBN 978-0-306-80682-7. 
  6. ^ "Randy Meisner – Randy Meisner". Discogs. 
  7. ^ a b c History of the Eagles. 2013. Event occurs at 1:39:20–1:42:05. 
  8. ^ a b Andy Greene (July 16, 2015). "Flashback: The Eagles Play 'Take It to the Limit' in 1977". Rolling Stone. 
  9. ^ Greene, Andy (February 7, 2013). "Flashback: All the Eagles Unite for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 2, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Eagles – Biography". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-05-24. 
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  12. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4109a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 4099." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  14. ^ "Charts.nz – Eagles – Take It to the Limit". Top 40 Singles.
  15. ^ "Eagles: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  16. ^ "Eagles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  17. ^ "Eagles Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  18. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, March 6, 1976
  19. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 26, No. 14 & 15, January 08 1977". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on June 10, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  20. ^ Musicoutfitters.com
  21. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 25, 1976
  22. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 6717." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  23. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  24. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard.
  25. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.

External links[edit]