New Kid in Town” is a song by the Eagles from their 1976 studio album Hotel California. It was written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther. Released as the first single from the album, the song became a number-one hit in the US and number 20 in the UK. The single version has an earlier fade-out than the album version. The song features Glenn Frey singing the lead vocals, with Don Henley singing main harmony vocals. Randy Meisner plays the guitarrón mexicano, Don Felder plays electric guitars, and Joe Walsh plays the electric piano and organ parts. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices.

J.D. Souther initially wrote the chorus for the song. According to Souther, the band thought it sounded like a hit, but he did not know what to do with it. About a year later, he, Frey and Henley gathered together for the writing of Hotel California where he played the song for them, and the three then finished the song together.

Souther would later say that the song came about as a result of their “fascination with gunfire as an analogy”, and added that “at some point, some kid would come riding into town that was much faster than you and he’d say so, and then he’d prove it.” He said: “We were just writing about our replacements.” Similarly, Henley discussed the song’s meaning in the liner notes of The Very Best Of:

“It’s about the fleeting, fickle nature of love and romance. It’s also about the fleeting nature of fame, especially in the music business. We were basically saying, ‘Look, we know we’re red hot right now but we also know that somebody’s going to come along and replace us — both in music and in love.”

The song was rumoured to be about Bruce Springsteen, who was gaining fame when the song was written, but Souther has denied that.

Eagles’ biographer Marc Eliot would also state that “New Kid in Town” captures “a precise and spectacular moment immediately familiar to any guy who’s ever felt the pain, jealousy, insecurity, rage and heartbreak of the moment he discovers his girlfriend likes someone better and has moved on.” He also suggests that it captures a more abstract theme of “the fickle nature of both the muse and the masses.” The song was rumoured to be about Bruce Springsteen, who was gaining fame when the song was written, but Souther has denied that.

On Henley’s first solo album, I Can’t Stand Still, he references the song by singing the line, “there’s a new kid in town” over the ride out of “Johnny Can’t Read”.

In 2016, the editors of Rolling Stone rated “New Kid in Town” as the Eagles 5th greatest song, describing it as “an exquisite piece of south-of-the-border melancholia” and praising its complex, “overlapping harmonies.” Those harmonies helped the song win the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices.

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