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The Long Run (album)

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The Long Run
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 24, 1979
RecordedMarch 1978 – September 1979
ProducerBill Szymczyk
The Eagles chronology
Hotel California
The Long Run
Eagles Live
Singles from The Long Run
  1. "Heartache Tonight"
    Released: September 18, 1979
  2. "The Long Run"
    Released: November 27, 1979
  3. "I Can't Tell You Why"
    Released: February 4, 1980

The Long Run is the sixth studio album by American rock group the Eagles. It was released in 1979 by Asylum Records in the United States and the United Kingdom. This was the first Eagles album to feature bassist Timothy B. Schmit, who had replaced founding member Randy Meisner, and the last full studio album to feature Don Felder before his termination from the band in 2001.

This was the band's final studio album for Asylum Records. It also turned out to be their last studio album during their original tenure, as the Eagles disbanded in 1980; even though they reunited in 1994, they did not release another studio album until 2007's Long Road Out of Eden.

Three singles were released from the album, "Heartache Tonight", "The Long Run", and "I Can't Tell You Why". "Heartache Tonight" reached No. 1 on the singles chart and won a Grammy Award. The album was certified 7× Platinum by the RIAA and has sold more than eight million copies in the US.


The album was originally intended to be a double album. The band could not come up with enough songs and the idea was therefore scrapped. The recording was protracted; they started recording in 1978, and the album took 18 months to record in five different studios, with the album finally released in September 1979.[2][3] According to Don Henley, the band members were "completely burned out" and "physically, emotionally, spiritually and creatively exhausted" from a long tour when they started recording the album, and they had few songs.[4] However, they managed to put together ten songs for the album, with contribution from their friends J. D. Souther and Bob Seger who co-wrote with Frey and Henley on "Heartache Tonight".[2] (Souther also got songwriting credit on "Teenage Jail" and "The Sad Cafe".)

According to Henley, the title track was in part a response to press articles that said they were "passé" as disco was then dominant and punk emerging, which inspired lines such as "Who is gonna make it/ We'll find out in the long run". He said that the inspiration for the lyrics was also "irony", as they wrote about longevity and posterity while the group "was breaking apart, imploding under the pressure of trying to deliver a worthy follow-up to Hotel California".[4]

Randy Meisner decided to leave the Eagles after an argument in Knoxville, Tennessee, during the Hotel California Tour in June 1977.[5] He was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit, who brought an unfinished song to the band, "I Can't Tell You Why". Schmit wrote the song based loosely on his own experiences; both Henley and Frey liked the song and they completed the song together.[6] Joe Walsh also contributed the song "In the City", which was first recorded by Walsh for the movie soundtrack for The Warriors, where it was credited to Walsh, not the Eagles.[7] Don Felder wrote the tune for "The Disco Strangler" using a four-on-the-floor disco beat as the basis for the composition. Henley wrote the lyrics. Henley intended the song to be an antidote to disco as both he and the rest of the band disliked disco, which was the most popular musical genre at the time.[8] The song "The Sad Cafe" was inspired by the Troubadour nightclub in Hollywood where the Eagles once played, and also by Dan Tana's restaurant that they frequented, while "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks" was written as a homage to Sixties "frat rock" such as the song "96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterians.[4]

The album was produced by Bill Szymczyk, although the Eagles were listed as co-producers.[9]

Album pressing

The original vinyl record pressings of The Long Run (Elektra/Asylum catalog no. 5E-508) had text engraved in the run-out groove of each side, continuing an in-joke trend the band had started with their 1975 album One of These Nights:

  1. Side one: "Never let your monster lay down"
  2. Side two: "From the Polack who sailed north" (may be a reference to the producer of the album Bill Szymczyk)[9]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideC+[11]
Rolling Stone[12]
Smash Hits4/10[13]

In 1979 Rolling Stone wrote, "Overall, The Long Run is a synthesis of previous macabre Eagles motifs, with cynical new insights that are underlined by slashing rock & roll...(it) is a bitter, wrathful, difficult record, full of piss and vinegar and poisoned expectations. Because it’s steeped in fresh, risky material and unflinching self-examination, it’s also the Eagles’ best work in many, many years."[14] The Globe and Mail determined that "the Eagles' fawning synthesis of various kinds of rock and that roll sits less well the smoother it gets."[15] The New York Times stated that The Long Run "is neatly balanced among standard Eagles rockers, rather shallow social commentary, ballads and novelty numbers," and noted that the band's "mean streak" has "never been so apparent."[16]

Reviewing the album retrospectively in AllMusic, critic William Ruhlmann wrote that the album was a "major disappointment, even though it sold several million copies and threw off three hit singles," adding that the album "reportedly was planned as a double album before being truncated to a single disc. If these were the keepers, what could the rejects have sounded like?"[17]


Year Nominee / work Award Result
1980 "Heartache Tonight" Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal[18] Won

Commercial performance

When released in September 1979, The Long Run debuted at number two on Billboard's Pop Albums chart and a week later hit number one. It stood for nine weeks in the number one slot. The Long Run was first certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 1, 1980, and reached 7× Platinum status on March 20, 2001.[19] It has sold more than eight million copies in the US.[20]

The album generated three Top 10 singles, "Heartache Tonight", the album's title cut, and "I Can't Tell You Why". Those singles reached No. 1, No. 8 and No. 8 respectively.[2] The band also won a Grammy Award for "Heartache Tonight".[21]

Track listing

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."The Long Run"Don Henley3:42
2."I Can't Tell You Why"
Timothy B. Schmit4:56
3."In the City"Joe Walsh3:46
4."The Disco Strangler"
5."King of Hollywood"
  • Henley
  • Frey
Henley and Frey6:27
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Heartache Tonight"
2."Those Shoes"
  • Henley
  • Frey
  • Felder
3."Teenage Jail"
  • Henley
  • Frey
  • Souther
Henley and Frey3:44
4."The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks"
  • Henley
  • Frey
5."The Sad Café"
  • Henley
  • Frey
  • Walsh
  • Souther


Credits adapted from the liner notes.[22]


  • Don Felder – backing vocals, guitars, organ on “The Long Run”, talkbox on “Those Shoes”
  • Glenn Frey – vocals, acoustic and electric rhythm guitars, keyboards, lead guitar on “I Can’t Tell You Why” and “King of Hollywood”
  • Don Henley – vocals, drums, percussion
  • Timothy B. Schmit – vocals, bass guitar
  • Joe Walsh – vocals, guitars, keyboards, talkbox on “Those Shoes”

Additional personnel

  • Jimmy Buffett – backing vocals on "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks"
  • The Monstertones – backing vocals on “The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks”
  • David Sanborn – alto saxophone on "The Sad Café"
  • Bob Seger – backing vocals on "Heartache Tonight" (not credited in liner notes)
  • Joe Vitale – piano, electric piano


  • Bill Szymczyk – producer and engineer
  • Ed Mashal – engineer
  • David Crowther – assistant engineer
  • Mark Curry – assistant engineer
  • Phil Jamtaas – assistant engineer
  • Bob Stringer – assistant engineer
  • Bob Winder – assistant engineer
  • Ted Jensen – mixing, remastering
  • John Kosh – art direction, design
  • Jim Shea – photography

Long Run Leftovers

It appears that several more songs were submitted for The Long Run, but did not make it. Some of these are included in the collection Selected Works: 1972–1999, with the title “Long Run Leftovers”, though in a barely-recognizable form. Joe Walsh later resurrected two of them, which surfaced on his solo albums: “Rivers (of the Hidden Funk)” on There Goes the Neighborhood (1981) and “I Told You So” on You Bought It, You Name It (1983). The music of both of them appear to have been written by Don Felder, with lyrics by Walsh. Felder is also credited for playing guitar on both songs.[23][24]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[46] 3× Platinum 210,000^
France (SNEP)[47] 2× Gold 200,000*
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[48] Gold 10,000*
Japan (Oricon Charts) 247,000[49]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[50] Platinum 15,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[51] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[52] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[19] 7× Platinum 8,000,000[20]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


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