Ukulele Video Lesson - Tequila Sunrise

In this ukulele video lesson, you'll be learning how to play Tequila Sunrise. Tequila Sunrise was released in 1973. The song ended up reaching number 64 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was included on the album Desperado, the second released by the band. Like the rest of the album, and even the cover, it has an overall Western theme to it, appropriate for the country rock that was very popular during the 1970s.

About This Ukulele Video Lesson...
Did the title "Tequila Sunrise" come from the famous drink?

The name Tequila Sunrise does not refer to the drink. The drink itself is a mix of grenadine, orange juice and tequila, giving a characteristic orange and red appearance that resembles a sunrise. The song, however, is about a man who is drinking tequila throughout the entire night and, as the name implies, right up until the sun rises. The overall feeling of the song is one of nihilism and desperation. The lyrics center on the life of a musician, told somewhat in metaphor, involving a woman who uses a man and forgets him soon after.

The song also ties together the theme that the Eagles were working with at the time, which was the similarity between the lifestyle of a cowboy and of a musician, according to the site Song Facts.

Where the band members were concerned themselves, according to the same site, tequila was generally regarded as a way to become courageous in circumstances when that was not particularly easy, such as approaching a woman in a tavern. This is reflected in the lyrics, principally in the line “take another shot of courage”.

This was not a song that had a great deal of thought put into it, but song writer Glenn Frey noted that it is one of his favorites out of the band’s catalog. It has been covered numerous times and the same title was used as the title for a movie, released in 1988, starring Mel Gibson and Kurt Russell.

Music Style

Tequila Sunrise can be categorized as country rock or soft rock. It is a staple of adult contemporary stations, easy listening stations, classic rock stations and country stations, to some extent. The length of the original recording clocked in at just under three minutes, ideal for the format of FM radio stations. It was released as a single on April 17, 1973, with the b-side offering being “Twenty-One”.

On the Very Best of The Eagles CD released in 2003, Don Henley expresses being not particularly enthusiastic about giving the song the title it was eventually given, as it sounded so much like the drink. In the end, however, he was more than happy with how the song turned out and it became one of the band’s most well-known.

The equating of musicians with a wandering, cowboy-like lifestyle would become very popular as a theme among bands in the 1970s, particularly with the explosive popularity of country rock. The Desparado album and the title song, in particular, would also become staples of the genre, covered by many musicians over the years.

Don Henley and Glenn Frey teamed up to write this particular song. Their collaborations became among the band’s most popular and distinctive and, though it might have a name that made it sound a bit like a strong alcoholic drink, Tequila Sunrise has become one of the definitive Eagles songs over the years. It continues to be very popular and, of course, the themes of desperation over being somehow used, drowning one’s sorrow in strong drink and the romanticizing of the cowboy lifestyle continue to be popular themes in music today. The song has a somber, somewhat cynical and desperate tone to it, as do many of the tracks on the album where it first appeared.

Remember to have fun with this ukulele video lesson! Until next time, Aloha!

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