What does Desperado mean?

Eagles: Desperado Meaning

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Album cover for Desperado album cover

Covered By: Clint Black (1993), Jake Hoot (2019)

Desperado Lyrics

Desperado, why don't you come to your senses
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...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Jul 15th 2015 !⃝

    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    The lyrics in the rest of the song paint a compelling picture of the friend who has withdrawn from other people, describing him as a character from the Old West: a desperado in hiding, a cowboy patrolling the distant fencelines, a gambler trying to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."


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Jan 5th 2012 !⃝

    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. :)


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Jul 31st 2012 !⃝

    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.

  4. anonymous
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    Nov 8th 2022 !⃝

    i always interpreted this song as a warning to take a good look at what’s in your life that you overlook. it seems the man in this song is searching for what he thinks he wants but in reality what he needs in right infront of him. the eagles are warning him that if he dosent realize this in time that it will be gone and he will be left with nothing.

  5. anonymous
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    Nov 16th 2021 !⃝

    Love this song. A man that’s very confused and just doesn’t know how to deal with his thoughts. He thinks his way. He really is hurting inside but is unable to let it out. Love is exactly what he needs. His head is not letting him think positively.

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 21st 2020 !⃝

    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.

  7. anonymous
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    Oct 30th 2018 !⃝

    When you look at gender uncertainty, it could relate today to a person who had been riding the fences for so long. There is also the issue of rain and a rainbow above you as well as finding the right companion before it is too late. A relative of mine finally let us know that he was gay and he wanted me to play this song at his wake, which I did. When you do read the lyrics, it can represent waiting to long and watching your life slip away before finding the right person in your life.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  8. anonymous
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    Nov 17th 2017 !⃝

    It's a song about addiction..

  9. anonymous
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    May 5th 2017 !⃝

    The movie "Will Penny" Henley had to see it!!

  10. anonymous
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    Mar 12th 2016 !⃝

    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 ...

  11. kooljohn176
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    Feb 25th 2016 !⃝

    Great written song by the EAGLES, made more popular by the lovely Linda Ronstadt about the hidden world of the neurotic wild nature of ''NARCISSUS'' who eventually blossomed and discovered the beauty of ''his image'' that he fell in love with to love himself more within the image of being a COWBOY feeling high on his high horse, like sitting on the fence that borders FREEDOM, either to find time to jump or get off his horse and take a chance to commit himself to the love that was offered to him truely on a silver platter as by the Queen of Hearts sort of speaking that loves him and wants to love him on her side of the border or fence. But as do the ''neurotic narcissist'' by his wild instincts he needs to ride and jump the fences for the otherside to chase the wild Queen of Diamonds to catch that ''lovely image'' that he also sees in himself to love and to feel like he worked hard to earn it like some kind of a CONQUISTODOR to chase down his love dream. To which, usually in the long run she doesn't love him back and gets hurt, only to be reminded again to come to his senses by coming down from his tired horse, to go back for his ''best bet'' which is ''the Queen of Hearts'' to surrender to love before it's to late to draw her out of her prison where she has been waiting for her Knight in shinning armor that has been in the rain and chasing rainbows for to long to finally see the one above him as a sign of triumph and glory to let her love him before it's to late.

  12. anonymous
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    Jan 30th 2016 !⃝

    It suggests the struggle that a gay/bisexual man grapples with as he "sits on the fence" between two worlds/lovers. He needs to let go of his fears, "come down off his fences" and love for love's sake (queen of hearts) rather than try to go for the show of being straight (queen of diamonds). He needs to let go and be who he really is here and now and be free since "Your prison is walking through this world all alone". And the reality persists of time that will not wait: "You better let somebody love you before it's too late".

  13. anonymous
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    Jun 20th 2014 !⃝

    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)
    Find love.
    Lots like the current hit Compass by Lady Antebellum.. words Let your heart be your guide /compass...

  14. anonymous
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    Apr 30th 2013 !⃝

    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.

  15. m320753
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    Aug 6th 2012 !⃝

    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

  16. anonymous
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    Jul 24th 2011 !⃝

    to me it means that there was a guy who went wandering looking for independence,doing things that are bad for him and ended up desperate with no home..

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  17. anonymous
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    Jun 25th 2011 !⃝

    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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