Eagles: Desperado Meaning
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Covered By: Clint Black (1993), Jake Hoot (2019)
You've been out ridin' fences,
for so long - now.
Ohh you're a hard one.
I know that you've got your reasons.
These things that are pleasin' you
Can hurt you somehow.
Don't you draw the queen...
anonymous Jul 15th, 2015 7:12am report
The song's meaning is stated plainly in the last line. The singer is telling his friend:
"You better let somebody love you before it's too late."
The lyrics in the rest of the song paint a compelling picture of the friend who has withdrawn from other people, describing him as a character from the Old West: a desperado in hiding, a cowboy patrolling the distant fencelines, a gambler trying to choose a winning strategy in a card game.
The verses discuss how the friend's choice to be a loner hurts him rather than helps:
"These things that are pleasin' you will hurt you somehow."
Rather than enriching his life, the isolation dulls it:
"Don't your feet get cold in the wintertime?
The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine,
It's hard to tell the night time from the day.
You're losin' all your highs and lows,
Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away?"
It's not too late to reverse his decline, but he must change his priorities, and soon:
"Now it seems to me some fine things
Have been laid upon your table,
But you only want the ones you can't get."
"Desperado, oh, you ain't gettin' no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they're drivin' you home.
And freedom? Oh, freedom. Well, that's just some people talkin'.
Your prison is walking through this world all alone."
The singer counsels his friend to pursue love rather than riches, using the symbolism of queens in a pack of cards:
"Don't you draw the Queen of Diamonds, boy,
She'll beat you if she's able.
You know the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet."
There is still hope:
"It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you."
anonymous Jul 31st, 2012 7:49am report
It means he's been a wanderer always looking for something he never has found. A loner that is running out of time. Someone does love him but he needs to let her in before it's too late.My DESPARADO finally came to his senses when he was 57. I had loved him since he was 40.
anonymous Mar 21st, 2020 3:44pm report
To some it all up, the lyrics are about a complex individual who isolates himself from opportunities of love and companionship because of a few different reasons, as the lyrics reveal.
Reason (1). He only wants what he can't have which could mean multiple things, to me the first thing that comes to mind is he's always going for the girls he can't obtain, or maybe has an unrealistic dream image girl he's trying to find in life, but doesn't exist. Or maybe he wants someone whose already taken, who knows, but the takeaway is clear that he only wants what he can't have. All or nothing, like a high roller gambler.
Reason (2). Fear, of rejection, he's been hurt before, losing his freedom of being single, or has little confidence. so he just isolates himself so he's safe from being hurt again. He runs away from the fear/opportunity, yet at the same time he's desperate to find intimacy. Desparado is contradicting, Confused? Think of it like a wild west rebel, who robs trains to attack the railroad company, but fearfully runs away from the consequences. He robs because he wanted something out of the action, (to make a rebellious statement), yet he's afraid of the consequences, so he runs a way from them. Desparado is the same.
Towards the end of the song the writer gives hope/warning to desparado, that there's still a chance for redemption, but it's limited by time. Desparado needs to let somebody love him before it's too late. A beautiful yet haunting ending message to the song.
I love this song, to me it's very relatable. Desparado reminds me of myself in alot of ways. I'm sure there's alot of other guys out there that can relate to desparado, I hope his ending is a good one.
anonymous Nov 17th, 2017 11:10am report
It's a song about addiction..
anonymous May 5th, 2017 5:59pm report
The movie "Will Penny" Henley had to see it!!
anonymous Mar 12th, 2016 3:03pm report
Sounds to me the song is about a drug addicted friend.
"These things that are pleasing you can't hurt you somehow"
You've been out riding fences implying that they could reach a point of no return..on the edge so to speak.
Walking through this world all alone disburse the depicting a drug user which can be a very lonely place.
Pain and your hunger are driving you home. This first implies the pain in one's life and the hunger to hide the pain through drug use . You're losing all your highs and lows which is typical of don't drug use. Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away...again drugs. You better let somebody love you... this is implying that there's help out there but the drug user is not allowing the person I am ...
anonymous Jun 20th, 2014 6:29am report
The 'cowboy' has been sitting on the fence (not making critical decisions about his life, and in particular his love life. She song admonishes him to let his heart lead, not something else. The queen of diamonds..a marriage for money will cut him. he needs to rely on his own heart (the queen of hearts is always your best friend)
Lots like the current hit Compass by Lady Antebellum.. words Let your heart be your guide /compass...
anonymous Apr 30th, 2013 4:11pm report
This song is probably in reference to Cain from the bible who was doomed to wander the earth for all eternity for killing his brother. If you look at songs like "wherever I may roam" by Metallica it strongly resembles the "freedom" of Cain. (Freedom that's just some people talkin') -i.e. Cain never forgives himself so he doesn't let anyone love him. He doesn't know any other life other than wandering alone. Cain is an interesting character and an almost constant theme among musicians for some reason. Most likely this is the "rain man" people refer to in the music industry (it might be "raining" but there's a rainbow above you) Cain walks around like eyor from Winny the poo with a rain cloud over his head. It's a plea to this desperate soul who could be loved, if he only forgives himself and let's other people love him. But Cain knows what he is. A murderer. And who could love a murderer? Cain wanders barefoot around the world (don't your feet get cold in the winter time). There must be some sort of happy ending for this desperate soul, but maybe he can't see it.
i think this song is about one of the last survivors of the old west way of living.someone is telling the guy that he has to change his ways and get into the mainstream of life! it's a man song, an answer to "i am woman". everyone that wears a suit and tie to work can envy the desperado as he sits in rush hour traffic, day after day after day. look how it affected the men on Seinfeld in the episode about the song. many men can picture themselves living the life of desperado, fixing fences and having a gunfight at noon on main street any time someone pisses you off
anonymous Jan 5th, 2012 1:41am report
I believe that the guy's life is passing him by. He is giving up on life and probably doesn't believe in himself. He couldn't adapt to this constantly changing life and lacks experience, proven when the singer says "you better let somebody love you before its too late". The singer is optimistic about a better future for the guy, as long as he doesn't give up, keeps facing his problems, and keeps trying to achieve his goals. :)
anonymous Jun 25th, 2011 6:33pm report
It means that you cannot let your lover jilt you and your not used to changes but in order to go on with your life you have to change and it also means he's desperate
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