How Eagles Fended Off Younger Competition With ‘New Kid in Town’
In 1976, the still relatively youthful members of the Eagles were already grappling with getting older. Songwriter J.D. Souther began to put the feelings to paper when he wrote the chorus of "New Kid in Town," the first single from Hotel California.
"That's the story of life," Souther told Songfacts in 2011. "That's the story of aging, especially coming out of your teenage and young man years and as you approach 30, you begin to see that things don't stay the same forever. And that there's a lot of other guys like you and gals like you that want the same thing that are coming up – and they want their moment, too, and they're going to get it. And it's fine. It's as it should be."
After letting the song sit for around a year, Souther eventually brought it around to Glenn Frey and Don Henley, who immediately saw potential.
“Everyone looked at me: ‘Man, that’s a single; that’s a hit. Where’s that been?’” Souther later told Rolling Stone. “I didn’t know what else to do with it.”
But the Eagles did. They helped Souther finish putting "New Kid in Town" together for the band's fifth album. Despite their popularity at the time, the Eagles knew that the music industry moved fast and perpetual success was not guaranteed. Sooner or later, someone else would enter the scene and become the next big thing.
"It's about the fleeting, fickle nature of love and romance," Henley said in the liner notes to The Very Best of the Eagles. "It's also about the fleeting nature of fame, especially in the music business. We were already chronicling our own demise," he added with a laugh. "We were basically saying, 'Look, we know we're red hot now, but we also know that somebody's going to come along and replace us – both in music and in love.'"
Released on Dec. 7, 1976, "New Kid in Town" became the Eagles' third chart-topping song, and later earned a Grammy.
By then, rumors had begun to swirl that their song was about Bruce Springsteen, the era's most celebrated up-and-comer, but Souther denies this.
"We were just writing about our replacements," Souther told Songfacts. "'New Kid' emerged from our whole fascination with gunfire as an analogy. And the point was at some point some kid would come riding into town that was much faster than you and he'd say so, and then he'd prove it."
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