Fans will remember the message etched into the vinyl on Side 2 the original Hotel California: “V.O.L. is five-piece live.” But there was one overdub on “Victim of Love,” eventually: The lead vocal.
Only the music bed — a scorcher composed by now departed guitarist Don Felder — was done live on the track. Later, after some additional lyric work by fellow Eagles Don Henley and Glenn Frey as well as longtime collaborator J.D. Souther, a singer was added. Felder thought all along it was going to be him.
“I had written not only the basic track, but the melody for it, as well,” Felder tells Artie Lange. “I had different words for it, and they didn’t like the lyrics. So, we sat down with J.D. Souther, a great writer, myself, Don and Glenn for a writing session — and we came up with the idea for ‘Victim of Love’ for a song title. I think J.D. actually came up with that. It was supposed to be a song that I was going to sing on the record.”
When the Eagles got into the studio, they cut the song live — a rare occurrence, according to Felder. “We were just five guys playing, solo and everything,” he says. “Usually, there were all of these overdubs, and we were piece by piece putting things together.”
Felder made a pass at singing the song, but then — over a subsequent dinner, he says, with the Eagles’ manager — was informed that Henley would be taking over the microphone. In fact, Felder adds, the vocal had been rerecorded while they were eating. Still, after some initial hurt feelings, Felder says he came to a realization: “Who can sing any song better than Don Henley?”