There’s a Web site devoted to love song lyrics, and “Desperado” is featured there. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work. Sure, it’s nominally about a cowboy who won’t allow himself to be vulnerable, but I don’t see any way to stretch things and call this a love song.
“Desperado” the song was on Desperado the album, released in 1973. It had a western theme, with numbers like “Outlaw Man” and “Doolin-Dalton”. And while it’s easily one of the Eagles’ most popular songs, I was surprised to learn it was never released as a single. Even so, Rolling Stone considered it one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
I’m also surprised more people haven’t heard “Desperado” in a spiritual context. “Come down from your fences – open the gate,” alludes to opening your heart, being open to God, who is “the rainbow above you”. And the call for a decision is, “You’d better let somebody love you – before it’s too late.” Probably not at all what Henley and Frey were thinking, but…that’s what it’s always brought to my mind.