"The Sad Cafe" as written by and Donald Hugh Henley Glenn Lewis Frey....
Out in the shiny night
The rain was softly falling
The tracks that ran down the boulevard
Had all been washed away

Out of the silver light the past came softly calling
And I remember the times we spent
Inside the Sad Cafe

Oh it seemed like a holy place
Protected by amazing grace
And we would sing right out loud
The things we could not say
We thought we could change this world
With words like "love" and "freedom"
We were part of the lonely crowd
Inside the Sad Cafe

Oh, expecting to fly,
We would meet on that shore in the
Sweet by and by

Some of their dreams came true,
Some just passed away
And some of the stayed behind
Inside the Sad Cafe.

The clouds rolled in and hid that shore
Now that Glory Train, it don't stop here no more
Now I look at the years gone by,
And wonder at the powers that be.
I don't know why fortune smiles on some
And lets the rest go free

Maybe the time has drawn the faces I recall
But things in this life change very slowly,
If they ever change at all
There's no use in asking why,
It just turned out that way
So meet me at midnight baby
Inside the Sad Cafe.
Why don't you meet me at midnight baby,
Inside the Sad Cafe.


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

"The Sad Cafe" as written by Don Henley Glenn Frey

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Cass County Music / Wisteria Music / Privet Music, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Red Cloud Music, Spirit Music Group

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The Sad Cafe song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentOkay, those are some deep comments folks. The truth is this song is literally about The Troubadour Bar in LA. Back in the early 70's there was something of a Folk/Country Rock Bohemian brotherhood happening there. It was very special. Back then you could literally go hang out with musical artists of the day (both up&coming and already-signed successful singer-songwriters). The time only lasted for a short while. Don is trying to capture that magical time when they were young, optimistic, knaive... this is a time that he can never go back to. It is a ballad expressing a nastalgic yearning for those years gone bye. The band & its members had changed a great deal from those days, and I believe it shows a maturing of these guys as the approach what they all probably realize is the end of the group. It is really serves as the perfect "swan song" for the eagles, a little more subtle but still much like the song "let it be" for the beatles.
    renterclinton January 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy opinion on this song is simply that they are talking about the break-up of the band.

    The "Cafe" is just the Eagles themselves - or better put, the time that the band was together.

    The first stanza just lays out that a reminising is about to happen.

    The next stanza states that the members could express their feelings through song more than - or instead of - through their words or actions.

    "Expecting to fly" could represent the word Eagle.

    "Some of THEIR dreams came true" - THEIR being the important word - signifying the past tense of the Eagles. Then "stayed behind..." meaning the band did not finish all that the members wanted to accomplish and/or communicate to us.

    I may be totally off - but that is my take on this song....
    Music123on March 21, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwow you seem so correct its creepy, because they say that they remember the time they spent inside or as the group, nice call!!
    Music_Ryderon January 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwell i think sad cafe is an expression but w/e

    this is one of my all time favorite songs that is soooo underrated and that not too many people know about. this song is absolutely beautiful w ith the sax and all and don henley's voice is beautiful. i think im gonna name my kid don now... or maybe not

    i love this song it has so much meaning and is very soothing. the eagles are awsome and are often over looked for bands like AC/DC which are definatly not even competition to the eagles. I LOVE THE EAGLES.
    minkoilon March 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThat's funny, I never related this song to the band. I always thought it was about the 60's and utopian, idealistic dreams of youth dashed. Of course, I can interpret it the way I want to! :-)
    tigger2006on July 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJoe Walsh makes reference to the Sad cafe in his song Lifes been good
    "Life's been good to me so far baby,
    inside the Sad Cafe."
    Which does kinda make the song being about the bands breakup more realistic
    Zoron December 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a wonderful song that touches the heart. It soothes the soul. I also love the sax in the end. that is really cool.~
    Addiemcon June 14, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentZor: Was this in a concert version or demo of the song? I don't recall hearing any voices say "in the sad cafe" in the studio version of "Life's Been Good."
    ProfessorKnowItAllon September 20, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThe Eagles is that one band that I always come back to. They were one of the first bands that I really got into, and even though I don't listen to their music all of the time whenever I do I find something that relates to my life. My interpretation isn't based on the history of the band or even a popularly held believe, it's just what the song means to me, but I still feel like sharing it.

    To me, the "sad cafe" is a metaphor for a special place and/or time in a persons life where they shared dreams, ambitions, outlook and friendship. It could be high-school, college, a home town, or even an era (eg. the 70s).

    "we could sing right out loud, the things we could not say" - this line reminds me of reckless freedom and haphazard ways. kind of like the saying "gotta learn to run before you can walk".

    "oh expecting to fly..." people believed that their dreams, no matter how outlandish, would come true. The kind of boundless optimism that can never last.

    In many ways "the sad cafe" is a metaphor for growing and changing and the sincere happiness one gets from sharing a vision or a dream.

    The song is about the nostalgia one feels when looking back at the time that was the "sad cafe" and the people who were there with him, with the sober clarity gained by experience and the passing of time.

    The line, "the clouds rolled in and hid that shore," signifies the end of that time. Some people go off to pursue their dreams, others give up, and some are paralyzed by inaction yet cling to what they wish they could achieve.

    The narrator, looking at his own life and where it has taken him, wonders why he has been so lucky, wonders why he has come so far while some of the people he remembers never made it. He has fond memories of this long gone time and place, yet he feels that maybe the memories ("maybe the time has drawn the faces I recall") are just an idealized version of the way things actually were.

    Finally, he decides to revisit the past, the place where his journey began. Perhaps he is looking for closure, perhaps answers to old questions, or maybe he just wants to remember what it felt like to share a dream.
    powderlyon March 22, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have to amend my previous comment.

    The last bit about the narrator deciding to revisit the past. He returned to "sad cafe" hoping to find the life he so fondly remembered, but once arrives he realizes how little it all has changed, and how as the years pasted he had idealized the memories he was clinging to. All at once it makes sense to him. He no longer needs answers because he has found peace with the way his life has played out, and wants only to bask in the memory of what it was like to share a dream.
    powderlyon March 22, 2009   Link

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