Take It To the Limit

Composed by Glenn Frey / Don Henley / Randy Meisner

Song Review by

"Take It to the Limit" was written by Eagles Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Randy Meisner for the group's fourth album, One of These Nights. By this point in their career, the Eagles had become successful with stately, string-filled ballads that emphasized their harmony singing, and "Take It to the Limit" satisfied that description well. It also explored a common theme in the group's lyrics, a sense that some sort of male loner -- a cowboy, a workaholic, a rock & roll star -- has reached the logical end of his extreme lifestyle and is thinking of changing his ways. A similar version of this same theme, for example, could be found in "Desperado," the title song from the group's second album, in which a narrator makes such judgments about another person. In "Take It to the Limit," the narrator is speaking about himself. Finding himself "all alone at the end of the evening," as the opening line puts it, he contemplates whether he may have been loved by a woman without knowing. Always a dreamer, he has spent his life running around, but lately his dreams all turn out the same. Apparently, though, there is someone waiting for him, since in the second verse, he asks if she will still be his if everything falls apart. In the chorus, he asks his listener to put him on the highway, show him a sign, and "take it to the limit one more time." The final line is ambiguous, however, since it implies that he won't settle down quite yet. For their recording, the Eagles used a lush, slow arrangement with a lengthy ending that gave high-voiced Meisner a chance to soar and improvise while the chorus was sung over and over. One of These Nights was released on June 28, 1975, and became a number one hit. "Take It to the Limit" was released as its third single on January 17, 1976, following the title track and "Lyin' Eyes," and it succeeded them in the Top Five of the singles charts. The same year, it was included on Eagles/Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, which went on to become the best-selling album of the 20th century. The group re-recorded the song for their Eagles Live album in 1980, by which time the high harmonies were being handled by Meisner's replacement, Timothy B. Schmit. There have been a number of notable cover versions. Randy Meisner put his own version on his self-titled debut solo album in 1978. In 1983, it was recorded by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings in a version that reached the Top Ten of the country charts. And in 1993, Suzy Bogguss performed it on the country-styled Eagles tribute album Common Thread.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
One of These Nights 1975 Elektra / Asylum 4:46
Eagles/One of These Nights 1975 Take 2 4:46
Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 1976 Rhino 4:47
Hotel California 1976 Elektra / Asylum 0:00
The Very Best of the Eagles [1994] 1994 Elektra 4:48
The Very Best of the Eagles [2001] 1994 Warner Elektra Atlantic Corp. / Elektra 4:46
Selected Works 1972-1999 2000 Elektra 4:47
The Complete Greatest Hits 2003 Warner Music 4:47
The Very Best of the Eagles [Rhino] 2003 Elektra / Rhino 4:48
The Very Best Of [2003] 2003 Warner Music 4:47
Eagles [Box Set] 2005 Warner Music 5:14
The Studio Albums 1972-1979 2013 Elektra / Rhino 4:46
Their Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 2017 Elektra / Rhino 4:49