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Life In The Fast Lane

by

Eagles



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song describes a man and woman that had everything but lost it because of their lifestyle. Hotel California was the Eagles first album with their new guitarist Joe Walsh, who helped write this song with Don Henley and Glenn Frey. In a 1981 interview with the BBC, Frey explained: "Life In The Fast Lane' kind of expressed the stereotyped LA 'run around in your Porsche' 24 hour boogie mode that unfortunately is too true for a lot of people. It wasn't really a statement about the guys in the band, or about anybody in particular – just it's kind of disturbing to see the extremes that the bourgeois jet set will involve themselves in. For instance, disco almost turned into a lifestyle, and it's such a non-meaningful thing on which to base one's life."

When reminded that his Eagles bandmates may have exhibited some symptoms described in this song, Walsh replied: "Yeah, that's probably true, and I think it was healthy, though, that we realized that running around and parties and fast cars are really not the answer – it's kind of a shallow way to approach why we're on this planet, and it probably came as a band consciousness." (This interview is available at Rock's Backpages.)
After this song came out, the phrase "Life in the fast lane" became commonly used to describe a jet-set lifestyle. It remains a fairly misinterpreted track, as it's not supposed to glamorize the lifestyle, but to be a warning about the dangers of drugs ("Lines on the mirror, lines on her face" describe cocaine on a mirror about to be ingested), alcohol and bad decisions. The Eagles formed in Los Angeles, where many people get caught up in a lifestyle of excess.
Walsh replaced original Eagle Bernie Leadon when he joined them for this album. In addition to his guitar work and writing contributions on this song, Walsh also composed the track "Pretty Maids All In A Row."
This song was rumored to be about Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac fame. They were a couple who broke up when they became famous, although Lindsey was not physically abusive to Stevie. Nicks dated Henley after she broke up with Buckingham. (thanks, Tracy - Madison, WI)
Once the song "Hotel California" was written, a loose theme developed for the album. Don Felder, who played guitar for the Eagles at the time, told us: "Once you arrive in LA and you have your first couple of hits, you become the 'New Kid In Town,' and then with greater success, you live 'Life in the Fast Lane,' and you start wondering if all that time you've spent in the bars was just 'Wasted Time.' So all of these other song ideas kind of came out of that concept once the foundation was laid for 'Hotel California.'" (Here's our full Don Felder interview.)
Glenn Frey reminisced in the 2013 film History Of The Eagles: The Story Of An American Band: "I was riding shotgun in a Corvette with a drug dealer on the way to a poker game. The next thing I know we're doing 90. Holding! Big-Time! I say 'Hey man!' He grins and goes 'Life in the fast lane!' I thought, 'Now there's a song title."'
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Comments (28):

If you listen closely, the lyrics have a storyline and a plot: A young stud decides to kidnap a rich, beautiful teenage heiress for a ransom, but she decides to stay with him in order to leave her boring previous life, and joins him in his life of sex, drugs and crime. In the end, he can't keep up with her! I always thought it would make a great movie.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
At the time many radio stations - especially the remaining AM rock stations - edited out the word "Goddamn" from the line: "We've been up and down this highway/Haven't seen a Goddamn thing". But today most classic rock/oldies stations play the song as is.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
In the History Of The Eagles, Joe Walsh said that he was in the studio playing an exercise he came up with that involved using all fingers on an acoustic guitar. Glenn Frey said he heard it and asked Joe to play it on an electric guitar as a riff. Frey then told producer Bill Szymczyk to get it on tape and that became the opening and continuing riff for Life In The Fast Lane. Walsh was given co-writer's credit for that.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
A high school teacher of mine was beginning a unit of poetry and tried to get the class's interest by pointing out that nearly all songs are poetry set to music. She invited us to bring in our favorite songs to play. She was taken by surprise when a girl brought this one in and angrily turned it off when its subject matter became clear.
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
Didn't they play this one on the "Miami Vice" episodes then Glen Frey was a guest actor?
- Willie, Scottsdale, AZ
Their best pure rock song next to the original Hotel California. Great guitar and vocals, and the song's name has become a catch phrase.
- Mayank, Ranchi, India
Yes, this song WAS on GH4, but as a DLC.
- Ryan, Anahola, HI
Has anyone heard of Jerry Sloan as it would pertain to him writting ANY Eagles song or being a co-writer. He's in Indiana and "claims" to have toured with them as an extra musician...Anyone? I don't want to call the guy a liar just because I haven't heard of him.
- Jake, Hartford City, IN
A perfect song. One for the ages. 'Nuf said. There's that early line between verses that the lyrics page has as "Are you with me so far?" I always thought it was fun to think it was Joe Walsh saying "How'm I doing so far?" In fact, it sounds more like that. Y'now, Joe asking us (and his new bandmates) "How do you like these riffs? I think I'm doin' pretty good." However, I have to admit, it just sounds like Don Henley.
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
To clarify - The song couldn't be about Stevie and Joe. The song came out in 1976 and their three year affair was from 1983 to 1986. So I'm sure it's about Lindsey and Stevie.
Jennifer, Phila, PA
- Jennifer, Philadelphia, PA
Cocaine technically is insufflated, a more descriptive verb than ingested which does not refer to any method inparticular but is generally understood to be associated with eating. Lines on the mirror go up the nostril, not down the hatch.
- G, Potomac, MD
I really think the song is about Joe Walsh and
Stevie Nicks and how drugs ruined their relation-
ship and almost cost them their lives.

Any truth to that?
- John, Las Vegas, NV
This song is compelling because of its relevance to the late 20th Century urban and suburban lifetstyles of those caught up in the youth culture. It is about drinking, drugging, and smoking to excess, mixed with social alienation and using technology (guitars and music) to substitute for meaningful human relationships. While NASCAR is a symptom of that malaise, it is improbable that the Eagles had the xenophobic rednecks of NASCAR in mind when they first penned and performed this song.
- Larry, New York City, NY
This song is very rich with its guitar!!!
Joe was the best thing that happened to The Eagles
- Allie, Pine Knob, MI
Life in the Fast Lane is one of my favorites. The Eagles rock!!!! I think of this as one of the most appropriate classic hits for listening to in the car. I mean, think about it: "Life in the Fast Lane" gives me the impression of driving on the interstate without a traffic jam... or, more accurately by the way it sounds, Nascar racing. The Eagles are really good at making Classic hits whose lyrics people wouldn't just sing with or whose beat people wouldn't just dance to, but that people would give equal attention to both. To me, the lyrics to sing with and the beat to dance to are of equal importance. Thank you, Eagles, for suiting me like that in you work. Eagle pride!!!!
- andrew, birmingham, United States
the question mark replacing the apostrophe is not intentional. It is the text coding for this website that causes that.
- Patrick, Tallapoosa, GA
Johnny from la wat r u talkin about. this is the best eagles song ever.
- Mischa, Winnipeg
How come people use ? instead of ' i've never gotten that?
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
Gee guys you all have better memories than I do....I was always told that if you remembered the 60's and 70's you weren't there......It was life in the fast lane with my beautiful mary jane as my co pilot and coke my navigator in the back seat no matter if you were rich or famous.....One thing I do remember the concerts back then lasted all weekend long not like hearding cattle to slaughter like they do today.....
- Bill, Houston, TX
This is a song that transcends its time like no other Eagles song because you can enjoy it without understanding the '70's double entendre. Let's clear something up though. If you are old enough to remember, you know it's absolutley wrong that 'after this song came out, the phrase "Life in the fast lane" became commonly used to describe a jet-set lifestyle.' Like many great songs, it was built around a cliche, a phrase we heard all the time with that exact same meaning. The innovation was that there had never been a song by that title, never something to exemplify the term, and the lyrics and music were brilliant.
- Fave, Farmingdale, NY
gleen frey was the one who really got the idea to write this song, not don henley (as was mentioned below). i mean, he even SAID so himself when he was interviewed for the "best of" inserts. otherwise: great song about the wheeling and dealing of losing life to drugs, alcohol and whatever else they wanted to do.
- Sara MacKenzie, Middle of Nowhere, FL
I love this song, it sounds great and has that nice strong guitaring.
- Sam, Thompsons, TX
great song and it definatly makes me hyper and i lose my mind when i hear it. very good song
- meagan, baton rouge, LA
One of pop music's most prominent uses of flanger effect comes during the final repeal of the chorus.
- Rob, Santa Monica, CA
This Eagles tune was used in the film, "FM".
- Christine, Chicago, IL
here' what Glenn had to say about the song:


Glenn: This began with a Joe Walsh riff he had that signature guitar part. I had the title. The true story is: I was riding in a car with a drug dealer, a guy we used to call "The Count," because his count was never very good [laughs]. We were driving out to an Eagles poker game. I was in the passenger seat. He moved over to the left lane and started driving 75-80 miles per hour. I said, "Hey, man, slow down." He goes, "Hey, man, it?s life in the fast lane." And I thought, "Oh, my God, what a title." I didn?t write it down. I didn?t have to.
Joe started playing a riff at rehearsal one day, and I said, "That?s ?Life In The Fast Lane.?" So we started writing a song about the couple that had everything and did everything and lost the meaning of everything. Lifestyles of the rich and miserable. I think the best line is "We?ve been up and down this highway, haven?t seen a God-damn thing." That pretty much summarized the journey these people were on rich as hell, gettin? high, got everything they want, and yet they?re living in a spiritual ghetto. That?s good news to the common man! Rich folks who are absolutely miserable and most of them are. I really like this record. Plus it made a statement: Joe Walsh was officially in the band.
- julia, london, England
To add more to the story Glenn was driving with a drug dealer on the highway when all of a sudden the drug dealer steps on the gas and goes up to like i dont know maybe 100 something and Glenn was like woah man slow down and the drug dealer just turned to him and said hey man its life in the fast lane thats all and Gleen was inspired
- Austin, St. Louis , MO
Glenn Frey came up with the title while riding driving down the highway with a drug dealer.
- Peter, Montrose, DC
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