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Music

Joe Walsh reveals the truth about 'Life's Been Good'

@TylerGolsen

Few guitar gods have accrued as notorious a reputation as Joe Walsh. Initially as the frontman for Detroit hard rockers the James Gang and later as both a solo artist and a member of the Eagles, Walsh seemed to radiate rock and roll energy, both for better and for worse. Thanks to his friendships with Keith Moon and John Belushi, hell-raising became a notable pastime for Walsh, and his antics were only solidified by one of his biggest solo hit singles, 1978’s ‘Life’s Been Good’.

With lyrics that describe the destruction of hotel rooms and reckless driving of fast cars, ‘Life’s Been Good’ was quickly seen as the perfect embodiment of Walsh’s particular brand of rowdy fun and wild behaviour. In fact, according to Walsh himself, most people that meet him want to talk about the real-life inspirations behind ‘Life’s Been Good’.

“Most questions I ever get asked are about ‘Life’s Been Good’, that song I wrote, and I’m tired of them,” Walsh said during an appearance at the Troubadour Bar in 2012. As a result, Walsh decided to explain the entirety of ‘Life’s Been Good’ to the audience, parsing through which elements of the song were autobiographical, which parts were inspired by others, and which were completely made up.

Walsh confirms that the reggae beat for the song’s verses were inspired by Bob Marley, and also confirmed that the line “I have a mansion, forget the price / Ain’t never been there, they tell me it’s nice” was true to life. “Between Hotel California and The Long Run, we were full-on,” Walsh explained about the Eagles’ massive late-1970s success. “We were either recording or touring and sometimes both. We didn’t take a break or nothing, and I was home maybe two months one of the years. We all were – we just lived wherever we woke up.”

The guitarist also confirmed that “I live in hotels, tear out the walls / I have accountants pay for it all” applied to him, but it was only because Keith Moon was his accomplice. “The James Gang was opening for The Who when they premiered Tommy in Europe, and Keith decided that he and I were going to stay up until the tour was over,” Walsh said. “And during those days he taught me a lot about the finer arts of anarchy, chaos, damage, destruction, all of that.” Walsh even explains how Moon was able to make a homemade cherry bomb out of a hardware store equipped to blow up toilets at hotels.

Walsh recalled that Eagles manager Irving Azoff once bought Walsh a chainsaw for his birthday, which led to Walsh tearing out the walls described in the song. He also confirmed that he owned a Mazarati that did indeed go 185, but he was never busted for going too fast: Walsh simply lost his wallet. Walsh shared that an anonymous friend had crashed two Lotus Cars in ten days, which served as the impetus for Walsh to write the line “My Mazarati does 185 / I lost my license, now I don’t drive.”

Finally, Walsh noted an anecdote about leaving a party that helped flesh out one final line. “Did you ever look at your watch and say, ‘Holy shit, I’m dead! I am dead!’ And you get up and you say, ‘OK everybody, I am leaving again! Fuck you, goodbye!’ And you walk into a closet?” Walsh’s inability to find the exit led to the line, “I go to parties, sometimes until 4 / It’s hard to leave when you can’t find the door.”

Watch Walsh dissect the realities of ‘Life’s Been Good’ down below.