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The Eagles Songwriting Point of View

June 18, 2012

Exploring Point of View in Eagles’ Songs.  By Steve Mallis, June 2012

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In this post, I am going to look at point of view in several of my favorite Eagle’s songs. As far as I can tell, the Eagles tend to blend their points of view, shifting them back and forth in the same song.

According to Pat Pattison, the 4 types of perspective are Direct Address, First Person, Second Person, and Third Person.

Direct Address is the most intimate type. It means the singer (using 1st person “I”) is talking directly to the audience or some unseen “you”.

The next most intimate narrative type is Second Person. In Second Person narrative, the singer is talking to the audience as if they were part of the story, but telling them facts they would already know if they were actually part of the story. Uses “You.”

Next is the more objective First Person narrative. In First Person narrative, the singer is talking as if they actually experienced the story themselves.  Uses “I” along with he, she, etc.

Finally, the most objective form, Third Person narrative. Here the singer describes the song’s world from a distance. Neither the singer nor the audience are part of that world. Use “he, she”.

Now let’s look at some Eagle’s songs.

Desperado  appears to be an example of Direct Access.

“Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?

You’ve been out minding fences for so long now.”

Throughout this song, the singer is singing as if talking directly with the person referred to as Desperado, hence Direct Access.

Tequila Sunrise appears to mix points of view. It starts out, in the 1st verse, being in either First Person or Third Person narrative.

“He was just a hired hand working on the dreams he planned to try…

…and she’s out runnin’ round.”

But then in the 2nd verse, it resolves to First Person narrative.

“She wasn’t just another woman and I couldn’t keep from coming on…”

In the break, the point of view becomes more intimate, and seems to take on the Direct Access narrative

“Take another shot of courage, wonder why the right words never come.”

Take It Easy also seems to mix points of view. The verses tend to be First Person narrative.

“I was running down the road, trying to loosen my load,

I’ve got seven women on my mind…”

Whereas the refrain seems to be more Direct Access.

“Lighten up while you still can…”

Obviously, the Eagles use varying points effectively in their songs. They even employ the technique of switching points of view within the same song as an effective means of drawing in the listener.

 

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