Why the Eagles Never Finished ‘You’re Really High, Aren’t You?’
The Eagles were in a hurry when they cast aside the song idea for “You're Really High, Aren't You?”.
Following the massive success of 1976’s Hotel California, the group was one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. But with greater popularity came increased expectations. These weighed heavily on the Eagles as they worked on songs for their next release.
"It made us very paranoid," guitarist Joe Walsh recalled of the pressure following Hotel California. "People started asking us, 'What are you going to do now?' and we didn't know. We ended up on the next album in Miami with the tapes running, but nobody knowing what was going on. We lost perspective. We just kinda sat around in a daze for ... months."
Over the course of 18 months, the band slowly assembled song ideas for their 1979 LP, The Long Run. The combination of high expectations, clashing egos and general frustrations led the band to abandon the initial concept of a double album. Instead, The Long Run would only be 10 tracks in length. “You’re Really High, Aren’t You?” was among the many song ideas left on the cutting room floor.
“That was just another one of the many joke titles we came up with,” Don Henley declared in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone. “I don't think it ever became an actual song. If it did, it's just an instrumental.”
Guitarist Don Felder remembered it a little differently. “We never got around to finishing the lyrics, and we barely even finished that record before it finished us,” the rocker noted in a 2014 interview with Fox411, alluding to the behind-the-scenes turmoil which plagued the band.
“It was a funny, light, heavy rock song,” Felder further explained during a conversation with Best Classic Bands. “That was one of the left-off 18 tracks. I remember it because of the title,” added The Long Run's producer, Bill Szymczyk. “‘You’re Really High, Aren’t You?’ That’s what Joe (Walsh) said to (Felder) when we recorded this. It just never got finished.”
With tensions frayed, the Eagles looked to get the tedious creation of The Long Run over and done with. “Everybody was like, ‘Ok, we’re done, let’s quit. We’ve got enough to put a record out,’” Felder recalled.
The Eagles would disband in 1980, but the story of “You’re Really High, Aren’t You?” doesn’t end there. As each member went off to focus on their own pursuits, Felder was approached to write a song for the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal.
“I went to Universal with the director [Gerald Potterton] for the screening of Heavy Metal,” the guitarist remembered. “As we’re watching it, I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got this great track that the Eagles aren’t using — maybe I could write some different lyrics for it.’” Felder took the unfinished version of “You’re Really High, Aren’t You?” and used it to create the film’s title tune. “I rewrote some of the lyrics and re-recorded the track with almost identical guitar parts.”
Released as a single in July of 1981, "Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)" became the biggest hit of Felder’s solo career, peaking at No. 5 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
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