Friday, 11 March 2011

You got your hair combed back, sunglasses on baby........

“The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley (1984)

Pick of the Week 

So I am pining for warmer weather and I am pawing through my albums. What will make me feel like it will actually be summer here again........hmmm........

After leaving one of the most successful bands in history, former “Eagle” Don Henley, put out his first solo album “I Can’t Stand Still”. When it first came out I thought this is one of the best solo albums I have ever heard by someone that left a very successful group – and he proceeded to get better Sure you have Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins all doing very well from Genesis, but generally it is quite an exception I have found.

I tried to learn “Johnny Can’t Read” on the piano that long summer and drove my family crazy. I just somehow related to these quirky tunes. “Dirty Laundry” also got pretty good radio play that summer.

Henley has a very broad spectrum of insightful emotional experiences in his songs and is not surprisingly a very adept song-smith. He of course had a lot of practice with the Eagles and has been exposed to some of the best, but you don’t necessarily get this good just by osmosis. He builds clever story lines and description that are reminiscent at times of Paul Simon’s song writing – although tends to have a perspective that is more social commentary than specific individual experience.  My favourite Don Henley lyric is from a song called “If Dirt Were Dollars” where he says “...she looked at me, uncomprehending me, like cows in a passing train...” Musically the songs pay a lot of attention to the expression of percussion as Don of course was the drummer in the Eagles.  

The album itself was not to be Don’s best by any means, as he went on to do a number of better works. 1984’s “Building the Perfect Beast” spawned “The Boys of Summer”, “Sunset Grill” and “All She Wants to Do is Dance”. His most mature effort, “End of the Innocence”  (1989) , gave us “New York Minute”, “Last Worthless Evening”, “Heart of the Matter” and the title song itself.

Henley became a serious advocate for recording artists rights in the early ‘90’s after his serious legal issues with Geffen (remember that name?) Records would not let him out of his agreement with them.
So a long pause and we got the 2000 effort “Inside Job”, which is a solid album, but had no real chart success.  

I have always liked and recently relistened to all these albums. My favourite Henley songs are still “Johnny Can’t Read” of course, but also “Talking to the Moon” (I Can’t Stand Still), “If Dirt Were Dollars” “I Will Not Quietly” (The End of the Innocence), “Miss Ghost” and “Annabel” (Inside Job).  

“... and I can tell you my love for you will still be strong after the boys of summer have gone.”


Jo-Anne said...

Thanks Dave, now I'll have to dust off my Don Henley albums.

"What dirty tricks the mind can play in the lonely dead of night; When you bump into the shadow of a faded love that wasn't right".

Don Henley's Miss Ghost - a nice blues song with a story...

Davo-rama Music said...

Glad to see you are enjoying the stories and suggestions Jo-Anne!

Sometimes my suggestins have more to do with what I personally like, but sometimes they strike a chord with others - so to speak.