How ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’ Emerged From Eagles Time-Out
Sessions for the Eagles' follow-up to Hotel California were dragging on, and executives at Asylum Records had grown concerned. Everybody needed a break.
"The record label was bugging us because The Long Run was, at this point, 6.8 months behind schedule," producer Bill Szymczyk told Miami's WPLG in 2015. Then Don Henley had an out-of-nowhere idea: "Well, maybe if we give them a Christmas single, they'll get off our back," Szymczyk remembered.
It proved to be just the rejuvenating time-out everybody needed. Problem: Eagles were holed up in Szymczyk's Bayshore Recording Studios – a converted motel at Coconut Grove, Fla., which was certainly no winter wonderland. "It was hot as hell," Glenn Frey later told Rolling Stone with a smirk. "Perfect for a Christmas record."
Henley suggested the recently reformulated Eagles cover an old Charles Brown song he remembered as a kid growing up in east Texas. Unlike the rest of what would become the Eagles' final classic-era album, "Please Come Home for Christmas" was quickly completed. A song devoted to holiday melancholy seemed to have finally ended their creative stalemate.
"We needed a break from the daily routine," Henley told Cincinnati's The Enquirer in 2017. "So, I suggested that we record a Christmas song, and I went on to suggest this song that I had remembered from my teenage years. The band members, and our producer, welcomed the idea."
They paired "Please Come Home for Christmas" with a goofy original titled "Funky New Year," then added a suitably ironic sleeve image. The completed 1978 single served as an official introduction to new bassist Timothy B. Schmit, who'd replaced Randy Meisner after the Eagles' most recent tour completed.
"We knocked it out in a matter of two, three days," Szymczyk told WPLG, "gave it to the label and then they indeed did get off our back until we were finished."
Listen to Eagles' 'Please Come Home for Christmas'
This stop-gap measure went on to become a surprise No. 18 smash single – then a perennial Yuletide favorite, leading many newer fans to mistake "Please Come Home for Christmas" for an Eagles original. Henley has always been quick to correct the mistake, while recalling how he initially discovered the track on WNOE, a powerful 50,000-watt AM station out of New Orleans.
"It broadcasted this wonderful, eclectic mix of music, which was like nothing I had ever heard on the pop stations in Texas," Henley told Cameron Crowe in a 2003 interview. "WNOE is where I first heard Charles Brown's original version of 'Please Come Home for Christmas.' It always stuck with me. Our version was very much like the original."
Eagles then turned their attention back to The Long Run, which didn't arrive until almost three years after Hotel California – a then-unheard-of amount of time. It was all downhill after "Please Come Home For Christmas," however, as they completed the project mere months after the holiday hit rushed up the charts.
"That was just to sort of buy us some time, and yet, at the same time, let people know that we were still rocking," Glenn Frey later told UCR's Joe Benson. "We got started on the record, and it was pretty clear to us that this was not going to be a three-month romp through the meadows of music. This was going to be a grind — so we wanted to do something to let people know that we hadn't broken up."
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