Life In The Fast Lane

Album: Hotel California (1976)
Charted: 11
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  • This song describes a man and woman who had everything but lost it because of their lifestyles. 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."
  • After this song came out, the phrase "Life in the fast lane" became a popular saying 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, a topic they take on in "Hotel California."
  • The famous guitar riff for this song started off as a warm-up exercise Joe Walsh was doing before a rehearsal. When the band heard it, they made him play it again and decided to develop it into a song.
  • 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."
  • 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 Songfacts: "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."'
  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Tracy - Madison, WI
  • Glenn Frey got out of the fast lane in the late '80s when he became a fitness fanatic and adopted a healthy lifestyle. For a short time, he was a pitchman for Jack LaLanne fitness centers.
  • In honor of Glenn Frey, Ann Wilson of Heart covered this song on her 2018 album Immortal. She called it "the perfect picture of love in the ego-driven, materialistic party culture of the 1970s."

Comments: 31

  • Tammie Sunday from Lawton, OklahomaLove the group, love the memories. Their songs make everyone the same age loving the same music with smiles on their faces. Would love to see the group in person. Turning 69 this year puts a smile on my face that I lived during the time they created most of my happiness. Blessings!
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaWillie that was Smugglers Blues. One of those tracks by the band I wish could be put up again on Youtube.
  • Dusk Blackman from Albany, Georgia (u.s.a.)Sounds like a couple of my relatives.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyIf 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 from Louisville, KyAt 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 from Louisville, KyIn 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.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxA 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.
  • Willie from Scottsdale, AzDidn't they play this one on the "Miami Vice" episodes then Glen Frey was a guest actor?
  • Mayank from Ranchi, IndiaTheir best pure rock song next to the original Hotel California. Great guitar and vocals, and the song's name has become a catch phrase.
  • Ryan from Anahola, HiYes, this song WAS on GH4, but as a DLC.
  • Jake from Hartford City, InHas 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.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaA 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.
  • Jennifer from Philadelphia, PaTo 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
  • G from Potomac, MdCocaine 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.
  • John from Las Vegas, NvI 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?
  • Larry from New York City, NyThis 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.
  • Allie from Pine Knob, MiThis song is very rich with its guitar!!!
    Joe was the best thing that happened to The Eagles
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesLife 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!!!!
  • Patrick from Tallapoosa, Gathe question mark replacing the apostrophe is not intentional. It is the text coding for this website that causes that.
  • Mischa from WinnipegJohnny from la wat r u talkin about. this is the best eagles song ever.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaHow come people use ? instead of ' i've never gotten that?
  • Bill from Houston, TxGee 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.....
  • Fave from Farmingdale, NyThis 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.
  • Sara Mackenzie from Middle Of Nowhere, Flgleen 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.
  • Sam from Thompsons, TxI love this song, it sounds great and has that nice strong guitaring.
  • Meagan from Baton Rouge, Lagreat song and it definatly makes me hyper and i lose my mind when i hear it. very good song
  • Rob from Santa Monica, CaOne of pop music's most prominent uses of flanger effect comes during the final repeal of the chorus.
  • Christine from Chicago, IlThis Eagles tune was used in the film, "FM".
  • Julia from London, Englandhere' 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.
  • Austin from St. Louis , MoTo 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
  • Peter from Montrose, DcGlenn Frey came up with the title while riding driving down the highway with a drug dealer.
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