This is a country song with the version by the Eagles still getting airplay on classic rock stations more than 30 years after it was first recorded. Country fans enjoy it, too, and Dolly Parton has recorded a popular cover version of the song.
Steve Young recorded his own song in 1969, but it was in 1980 that the Eagles added some harmonies and the song really took off. One interesting fact is that the band members used to perform the song backstage as a way of warming up before starting a gig. The harmonies were thought to give them a great vocal and musical rev-up before going on stage.
Steve Young, then living in Montgomery, Alabama, was taken to Woodley Road, aka the "Seven Bridges Road," by some friends in the 1960s, and thus knew from first-hand experience what to write about. He remembers it as a dirt road leading into the country. Of course, the road had seven bridges, hence its name. But that is a local name, invented and used by the locals from as far back as the 1860s. Young remembers the old farmhouses, churches, streams, trees with Spanish moss, and graveyards. The area had character.
After he wrote the song, Young didn't think much of it. Then he played it at a gig in Montgomery and suddenly people were interested. They knew exactly what he was singing about.
Later, he was recording his album Rock, Salt and Nails. The producer wanted covers ~ no originals today, thank you. Young and the session musicians worked their way through several numbers and finished, but there was still space on the album. He pulled out the chords for "Seven Bridges Road" and they ran through the number. Maybe because it was late and, as there was a spot open on the record, the producer said, "Okay, we'll use it." And that's how the song got to be recorded. Once it got airplay it proved popular, and versions by Joan Baez and Rita Coolidge gave it even more impetus.
Then ex-Monkee Mike Nesmith wrote a stunning a capella vocal arrangement for a version by Fairport Convention. But when the Eagles made their 1980 recording, they took the vocal harmonies to new heights and the song, as mentioned, is still much loved today.
Interesting that Steve Young re-recorded his song in the early 1990s, and while the tune and words are remembered by millions, the songwriter never achieved much fame or recognition.
So where and what is the real Seven Bridges Road? That's a good question. Some say it is Woodley Road leaving Montgomery. Hank Williams Jr. reckons it's the road which takes you to Oakwood Cemetery where his father is buried. One of the identification problems is caused by the development in the area since Young wrote the song. So much of what he describes simply ain't there no more. But Woodley Road does have one modest fact supporting its claim to be the original thoroughfare: There are seven bridges along that road. ~ Cenarth Fox