About the Song
Recorded in 1969, “Seven Bridges Road” is originally a country song penned by American musician Steve Young. It was released as a part of Young’s debut album, Rock Salt & Nails in 1969. Covered by a number of artists, the song has crossed over several genres. Most noteworthy, the best-known version was the 1980 recording of the American rock band Eagles. The version was a five-part harmony arranged by English musician Eagles.
The title of the song, “Seven Bridges Road“, is actually referring to Woodley Road located in Montgomery, Alabama. In fact, the song was a narration of Young during a trip to the south in Alabama. In addition, it describes his emotions as he traverses the road, which actually has seven bridges and trees covered with moss.
Furthermore, “Seven Bridges Road” became Young’s signature and most famous song.
Steve Young’s Original Version
The inspiration of this song dates back to the early 1960s during a sojourn of Steve Young in the city of Montgomery in Alabama. Awed and amazed by what he saw, Young started writing “Seven Bridges Road” in 1969. According to him:
“a group of friends…showed me [a] road [that] led out of town…After you had crossed seven bridges you found yourself out in the country on a dirt road. Spanish moss hung in the trees and there were old farms with old fences and graveyards and churches and streams. A high-bank dirt road with trees. It seemed like a Disney fantasy at times. People went there to park or get stoned or just to get away from it all. I thought my friends had made up the name ‘Seven Bridges Road’. I found out later that it had been called by that name for over a hundred years. “
Later, he revealed that he was talking about Woodley Road where he strolled around when he was in Alabama.
Woodley Road is a rural two-lane road, which runs south off East Fairview Avenue – the southern boundary of Montgomery’s Cloverdale neighborhood – at Cloverdale Road, and which features seven bridges; three pairs of bridges, and the seventh approximately 1 mile south by itself.
LISTEN: Steve Young’s Original Version of “Seven Bridges Road” Recorded in 1969.
The Eagles’ Version
While it became Steve Young’s most famous hit, “Seven Bridges Road” gained its highest-profile incarnation in 1980 when the band Eagles recorded a live version. The harmony and vocal arrangement were borrowed from a recording arranged and released by Ian Matthews from his album, Valley Hi in 1973.
In 1980, the band recorded the song for their Eagles Live concert album. Eagles band member Don Felder revealed that when they initially began playing in stadiums, the group used to warm-up in a locker room shower area singing “Seven Bridges Road“. After that, every concert would open with them singing the song acapella. Furthermore, Felder recalled that it blew the audience away every time they do that.
“It was always a vocally unifying moment, all five voices coming together in harmony,” Felder states.
The Eagles’ version received praises from fans all over the world. In fact, it became a chart-topper for the band. It reached no. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, and no. 55 on the Billboard C&W chart.
When the band’s version penetrated the charts, Steve Young, the song’s composer expressed his reaction:
“I didn’t like the Eagles’ version at first. I thought it was too bluegrassy, too gospel. But the more I hear it, the better it sounds.”
Listen to The Eagles’ version of Steve Young’s 1969 hit “Seven Bridges Road”.
A report from an issue of Goldmine magazine stated that initially, the band did not want to accomplish a live album. However, Joe Smith convinced the Eagles to push with the concept. Eventually, the band agreed to do a live recording with one condition. They said that they would cancel the show unless Smith could answer a trivia question. To their surprise, Smith effortlessly answered their question correctly which went:
“Who were the four 20-game winners on the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff in 1971?” (Answer: Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson, Dave McNally and Jim Palmer)
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Eagles, Seven Bridges Road, Steve Young