It is suggested the song could be about a cowboy who wants to fall in love, but it could also be about the stress of being a rock star. The stress of being a rock star is a recurring theme of the Eagles music.
It was the first of many songs Don Henley and Glenn Frey wrote together. Don started the song in the ’60s, when Glenn came along he showed him the notes. Henley said in the liner notes for The Very Best of the Eagles: “Glenn came over to write one day, and I showed him this unfinished tune that I had been holding for so many years. I said, ‘When I play it and sing it, I think of Ray Charles – Ray Charles and Stephen Foster. It’s really a Southern gothic thing, but we can easily make it more Western.’ Glenn leapt right on it – filled in the blanks and brought structure. And that was the beginning of our songwriting partnership – that’s when we became a team.”
The quote that I like from the song is:
Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet
Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones
That you can’t get
– The Eagles, Desperado
I think this might mean the man is hungry for wealth, the queen of diamonds. Love, the queen of hearts, is right in front of him. The message might be that human nature keeps us striving for more. We need to relax and enjoy what we have.