As much as I love U2, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones, I love Don Henley even more. It doesn’t make any sense — I know he’s not as influential or as prolific as any of those artists. But he is still my favorite.
And not Eagles-era Don Henley. Don Henley-era Don Henley.
It’s in part because The Boys Of Summer has been since its release in 1984 my FSE — Favorite Song Ever. Here it is:
And The Heart Of The Matter isn’t too far behind (um, check name of blog):
In spite of those two songs (and several others), there is a cost to being a Henley-phile. A certain built-in level of frustration that on occasion boils over. Like today.
So . . . here are the top five reasons why having Don Henley as your favorite musician can be more than a little frustrating:
1. He releases less than an album a decade. His first effort, I Can’t Stand Still, came out in 1981. The next, Building The Perfect Beast (first single: The Boys Of Summer) went public in 1984. So far, so good. Then The End Of The Innocence (with the title track and The Heart Of The Matter) was released in 1989. Then . . . nothing. Oh for the 90s. No response to the rise of hip hop, the emergence of grunge, or the prevalence of boy bands. He released Inside Job in 2000. Since then? Zero. Zip. Nada. And no, a Greatest Hits compilation with a couple of new old songs doesn’t count. (Though would I be enough of a sucker to buy it? Of course I would.)
2. He’s a tease. During one of the five times I’ve seen him in concert, he introduced a song called (I think) “Well, Well, Well” and said it was going to be his soon-to-be-released album. The album never came. Now there are reports that he has a country-influenced album called Cass County that is to be completed and released in May. That’s next month. Should I get my hopes up? Probably not. Don, listen to me: underpromise and overdeliver.
3. He keeps going back to the Eagles. Now I like the Eagles. But good things really do come to an end. In this case, multiple ends. I don’t believe even their best stuff measures up to Boys Of Summer or The Heart Of The Matter. And when Eagles’ reunions result in new Eagles music? No thank you. I mean, did you ever make it through a complete listen of 2007’s Long Road Out Of Eden? If you could, you’re a better person than I am.
4. His politics are predictable. Really: unless it’s Ted Nugent, anytime a rocker goes public with his politics, you know he’s leaning left. Way left. Henley is no exception. Even one of his best lyrics — “we’re beating ploughshares into swords for this tired old man we elected king” — comes at the expense of a certain president to whom a lot of folks my age are partial.
5. He has a ridiculously good head of hair. Should any 65 year old have that much hair? Come to think of it, the only other one who ever did . . . was that president from #4.
With all that frustration, what CD is in my car? Building The Perfect Beast. And what will I do if Cass County actually goes public next month?
You already know the answer to that one.