The song’s narrator is a lone gunman who plays poker all night and rides away at daybreak, leaving behind only a note: “Sorry boys, I never promised you a rose garden.” The lyrics reflect the outlaw and romantic themes of many country songs, and The Eagles themselves were inspired by country rock pioneers The Byrds. The song was written after Don Henley’s then-girlfriend Loree Rodkin broke up with him; more specifically, when she took up with another man. Although it went unnoticed at first, The Eagles’ managers Irving Azoff and Eagles manager Elliott Roberts noticed the song was resonating with Frey on tour. The lyrics were changed to reference the “Desperado” of the title, rather than a girlfriend. The band recorded it on their album Desperado, but The Beatles’ success with their new single “Get Back” prompted The Eagles to rush-release their own single version. The song was played only on radio stations in the United States, but it went all the way to #11 on the Billboard singles chart and was The Eagles’ first gold single [wiki] .
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