Although the Eagles’ version is the best known release, they were not the first to record Steve Young’s song. In fact, Young recorded it thrice before the Eagles, with versions released in 1969, 1972, and 1978. Even Eddy Arnold, Joan Baez, and Rita Coolidge recorded it earlier.
Even at that, the arrangement of the song by the Eagles was borrowed from Iain Matthews who was the first to record “Seven Bridges Road” in 4/4 time, as the original was in 3/4. Matthews was also the first to introduce an a capella beginning. Both the Eagles and Ricochet owe a debt of gratitude to Matthews, as had it not been for his 1973 release from his “Valley Hi” album, their subsequent hits would have never occurred.
While the Eagles version utilized the vocals of all five members of the band, Iain Matthews sings all of the parts on his recording – making it even more remarkable. “Seven Bridges Road” and “Valley Hi” were produced by former Monkee Mike Nesmith who also lends his guitar work to the album. In addition, Red Rhodes’ steel guitar is prominently featured giving “Seven Bridges Road” a haunting feel.
Although released as a single, it failed to chart for Matthews, which is a shame as it is one of his best recordings. For Matthews’ release, both the single and album titled the song as “7 Bridges Road” unlike the full name of “Seven Bridges Road” used on earlier and subsequent releases of the tune. Of course, he was known as “Ian” Matthews in those days too.