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Glenn Frey and Don Henley wrote this song together, and Frey sang lead. Along with "Desperado
," it was one of two songs they came up with the first week that they started writing together. The songs formed the basis for a Western theme, with Frey and Henley comparing the life of a cowboy to that of a musician. "Tequila Sunrise" shows the transient nature of each job, as the singer falls for a woman who just wants to use him and move on. The theme didn't immediately connect with the buying public, but the songs stood the test of time and became staples of the Eagles catalog. Bon Jovi would later borrow the idea for their 1986 hit "Wanted Dead Or Alive
A Tequila Sunrise is a drink made with Tequila and orange juice. Some grenadine is poured on top to create the red and orange colors of a sunrise. "Tequila Sunrise" is also the name of a 1988 movie starring Kurt Russell and Mel Gibson.
This song, however, doesn't refer to the drink, but is about a guy who has been drinking straight tequila until the sun comes up.
The album had an Old West theme, with songs like "Desperado," "Saturday Night" and "Doolin-Dalton" dealing with outlaw cowboys. When the Eagles toured in the Spring of 1973 after the album was released, they used a Western backdrop.
The line, "Take another shot of courage" refers to how if you drink tequila, it will give you courage to talk to women (although not coherently). The Eagles, who knew their way around a tavern, used to refer to tequila as "instant courage" at a time then they needed some to approach the ladies.
This song is a favorite of Glenn Frey. He said in the Eagles: Very Best Of liner notes: "'Tequila Sunrise' was written fairly quickly, and I don’t think there’s a single chord out of place."
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