Top 10 Joe Walsh Songs
Joe Walsh is an artist whose recorded output covers more musical ground than is apparent at first listen. His unique, inimitable guitar playing sets him apart from most of his contemporaries: Walsh is the rarest of guitar heroes, one who doesn't overplay, instead using his innate sense of tone and phrasing to construct simple melodies that perfectly communicate the heart of each song. One of the clown princes of rock and roll, Walsh's sense of humor plays a very large part in his songwriting, but he's also got an uncanny ability to marry that sense of humor with pathos to create a sort of musical everyman persona. Here is our list of the Top 10 Joe Walsh Songs.
Walsh showed his more philosophical side with "A Life of Illusion," the initial single from his first post-Eagles solo album. The song was originally recorded in 1973, but not finished. Set over a jaunty acoustic track with horns, and featuring a trademark Walsh slide guitar solo, the song takes a wry look at the ups and downs of life: "Pow, right between the eyes / Oh how nature loves her little surprises / Wow, it all seems so logical now / Just one of her better disguises" – a sentiment that qualifies for the Top 10 Joe Walsh Songs.
From: 'Thirds' (1971)
Though the James Gang were less commercially successful than Joe Walsh's solo career or his stint in the Eagles, the group still created some essential rock and roll, as evidenced by "Walk Away." The track failed to make the Top 40 upon its initial release, but has since become a staple of classic-rock radio. Walsh wrote, sang and played guitar on the track, on which he was also credited for "train wreck" for the cacophony of electric guitars that collide in the outro.
Walsh took a turn in a different direction with "Waffle Stomp" from the soundtrack to the hit film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The track was a step toward techno with its electronic drum sounds and glossy keyboard production, which pointed the way to some of his future solo work. But his trademark sense of humor is intact in the lyric, and the track also features a compact, memorable solo that marks the song as pure Joe Walsh.
"Help Me Through the Night" demonstrates the more introspective side of Walsh's writing. An acoustic-based ballad with elegant, understated piano fills, the track centers on Walsh's unusually sensitive vocal delivery. Members of the Eagles contributed some gorgeous harmonies to the track. Walsh joined the band within a year and a half, and they routinely performed "Help Me Through the Night" at their concerts. A perfectly constructed electric solo lifts this to its status of one of the Top 10 Joe Walsh Songs.
Walsh dropped his comedy act for the deathly serious "The Confessor," a scathing 7-minute slice of rock and roll therapy. Opening with an acoustic blues guitar motif, halfway through the song it kicked into one of the most massive guitar riffs Walsh ever created, over which he proscribed his own lyrical cure for what ailed him: "Take all the trauma, drama, karma / Guilt and doubt and shame / What ifs and if onlys / The shackles and the chains / Violence and aggression, bitterness and scorn / The jealousy and hatred, the tempest and discord / and GIVE IT UP!"
Walsh forever endeared himself to third shift workers everywhere with "All Night Long," a raucous, straight-ahead party tune centered around a classic guitar riff. Taken from the soundtrack to the massively successful (but terribly corny) film Urban Cowboy, this song reached No. 19 in the Billboard charts, making it one of Walsh's highest-charting solo singles. But it doesn't have much to do with country music – despite its reference to chewing tobacco: "Keep a-grinning 'til the weekend comes / Just a pinch between your cheek and gum."
From: 'The Long Run' (1979)
"In the City" was actually first recorded as a Joe Walsh solo track and released on the soundtrack to the film The Warriors in early 1979. But when Walsh's bandmates in the Eagles heard the track, they liked it so much they decided to re-record it for The Long Run. Though the versions are very similar, the Eagles cut is by far the better-known. Never officially released as a single, it has nonetheless become a staple of classic-rock radio and became one of Walsh's featured moments during the Eagles' live shows.
You can't get much more classic than "Life's Been Good," Walsh's 1978 satire of the rock-star lifestyle. Inspired in part by his own hotel antics and the revocation of his driver's license, this track has an almost orchestrated feel. With acoustic and electric guitar parts so perfectly synched with an ARP Odyssey, it's almost like composition, as opposed to rock songwriting. "Life's Been Good" retains a loose, breezy feel, but what makes it one of the Top 10 Joe Walsh Songs is the classic tag line: "I can't complain, but sometimes I still do / Life's been good to me so far."
From: 'James Gang Rides Again' (1970)
Though the James Gang were not that commercially successful in their time, the attention that came to the band after Walsh's subsequent turn in the Eagles and as a solo act has revealed much of that early work as classic – and none more so than "Funk #49." This riff-driven classic rocks so hard that it also makes an appearance on our list of Top 100 Classic Rock Songs. The rhythm track here is especially great, with the interplay between rhythm guitars and almost tribal-sounding drums.
Undoubtedly one of Joe Walsh's best-known songs, "Rocky Mountain Way" was also his commercial breakthrough as a solo artist – although technically he was part of a band called Barnstorm at the time. Featuring a classic chord structure, groovy piano parts and an innovative solo featuring a talk box (which Peter Frampton later used to great effect on "Do You Feel Like We Do"), the track has all of the elements that made Walsh great. So much so, in fact, that it also found a home in our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs.