James Dean

Album: On The Border (1974)
Charted: 77

Songfacts®:

  • This song tells the story of actor James Dean, who starred in the movies Giant, Rebel Without A Cause and East Of Eden before dying in a car accident on September 30, 1955 in his Porsche Spyder 550, nicknamed "The Little Bastard." It's one of several Eagles songs that had a theme of either dead heroes or the consequences of a reckless lifestyle. Other songs that touch on these subjects include "Life In The Fast Lane" and "Good Day In Hell."
  • While the song plays up Dean's "live fast, die young" reputation, it wasn't his lifestyle that killed him: his car accident was not caused by excessive speed and was a case of very bad luck - Dean's passenger and the driver of the other car both survived. Dean was 24 years old when he died.
  • Jackson Browne and J.D. Souther, who were both friends of the band, helped write this song along with Don Henley and Glenn Frey.

Comments: 16

  • John from Bonita Springs, FlThe verse about the wreck of the Spyder 550 “Little Bastard” is catchy, but a bit wrong. Dean didn’t pick up a rider on the way to race; rather, his passenger was his car’s mechanic (who survived). Here’s the story, and an eerie post script about the evil doings of “Little Bastard” after the fact... https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/the-haunting-story-of-james-deans-little-bastard/
  • Ken from Louisville, KyGlen Frey, JD Souther and Jackson Brown were all fans of the James Dean legend. Growing up in Texas, however, Don Henley wasn't. He even said he never "got" the hero worship of Dean. Nevertheless, Henley helped with some of the lyrics.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 13th 1950, Pepsi-Cola first aired a television commercial featuring future super-star, James Dean...
    Just under twenty four years later on September 15th, 1974 the Eagles' "James Dean" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #92; three weeks later on October 6th it would peak at #77 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 5 weeks...
    The song was track one of side two on the quintet's third studio album, "On The Border"*, and the album peaked at #17 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart...
    Two other tracks on the album also made the Top 100; "Already Gone" {#32 for one week} and "Best of My Love" {#1 for one week}...
    * "On The Border" reached #3 in the Netherlands; and oblivious they are very popular in the Netherlands, for every album they released made the Top 10 on the Mega albums chart?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyA sad anniversary; sixty years ago today on September 30th, 1955 James Dean died...
    Thirteen days earlier on September 17th, 1955 James Dean, with actor Gig Young, filmed a TV public service announcement urging teenagers to drive safely...
    Jimmy's last line was "Take it easy driving, the life you might save might be mine"...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hU5N2SrEaZI
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThe Eagles started working on this song for their second album. But when it started to evolve into a concept album about outlaws ("Desperado"), they shelved this song. They revived it for their third album.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThere is a You Tube clip of the Eagles playing this song at "California Jam '74" (which was televised by ABC). Don Felder wasn't present for this gig since his wife was having a baby at the time. But Jackson Brown was on stage with them, playing piano.
  • Dt from Gulf Breeze, FlPerfect song to begin an encore set.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhI was never crazy about the Eagles in their heyday like many people were. Their music was alright, although none of their songs ever stood out as 'simply fabulous' to me. However, their tunes belong on the soundtrack to my life, and the tunes are many. This might be my favorite. Yea, "bye, bye!"
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InExcellent and often overlooked song.
    I heard an interview Bob & Tom did with Joe Walsh, and he mentioned how they dusted this off for their tour fairly recently.
    Love the closing lyrics "Too fast to live, too young to die, bye bye!"
  • Sean from Haikou, ChinaThe guitar solo sounds like a real drag race.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThis was really not indicative of the Eagles' country-rock sound of the early 70's. It sounds like it would have fitted better during their more hard rocking period later in the decade.
  • Jack from Queens, NyGreat songs. On eof my favorites by the Eagles
  • Bill from Chico, CaJames Dean didn't die drag racing. He was on a highway when another driver turned without seeing him. He was on the way to a race though.
  • Maxwell from Houston, Txlisten to the fadeout of the song "on the border" with headphones. someone sez "goodnight dick"
  • Ray from Stockton, NjI really like this song, the second guitar intro sounds a little bit like Blinded by the Light.
  • Sara Mackenzie from Middle Of Nowhere, Flfast song...never really expected the eagles to do this sort of thing
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