36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 8 — “The Boys of Summer”

Artist: Don Henley

Why this song is an adrenaline rush: Henley is one of rock’s best songwriters, as well as one of its most underappreciated vocalists. He’s in his element in both respects on this song, his most effective single outside of his work with The Eagles. (Coming up on Day 11, in case you were curious.) That insistent synthesizer riff, coupled with the stinging guitars by co-writer Mike Campbell (better known for his work with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), perfectly support Henley’s plaintive vocals. It’s one of the greatest summer anthems ever recorded.

Lyric line that’s fun to belt at maximum volume:

Out on the road today
I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac
Little voice inside my head said,
“Don’t look back — you can never look back”
Thought I knew what love was; what did I know?
Those days are gone forever; I should just let ’em go, but…

Fun factoids:

  • Mike Campbell originally wrote this tune for a Tom Petty project. When the music didn’t fit into that album’s thematic sensibility, he shopped the demo track to Henley, who wrote the lyrics.
  • Henley based the lyric line quoted above on a vehicle owned by his Eagles bandmate, Joe Walsh.
  • The punk band The Ataris recorded a remarkably faithful (albeit three times faster) cover version.
  • Baseball fans know that the song’s title comes from a legendary 1972 baseball book about the Brooklyn Dodgers, penned by sportswriter Roger Kahn. Nearly 40 years later, The Boys of Summer remains one of the most powerful books ever written about America’s national pastime.

Other songs by Don Henley that I could have chosen instead: “Dirty Laundry,” “All She Wants to Do Is Dance,” “I Can’t Stand Still.”

[Late to the party? Here’s an explanation of 36 Days of Adrenaline.]

Explore posts in the same categories: 36 Days of Adrenaline, Soundtrack of My Life, SwanStuff, That's Cool!

5 Comments on “36 Days of Adrenaline: Day 8 — “The Boys of Summer””

  1. Donna Says:

    Now you’re talking! I agree that Henley is one of rock’s best songwriters. Henley’s high on the list of people whom I’d like to take for a ride in my car with the stereo’s volume elevated. I wonder what he’d think of my vanity plate? Man can he write and sing! As for other choices for his solo work, my first thought is of “In a New York Minute”. I’d know Henley’s voice anywhere!

  2. SwanShadow Says:

    Donna: “In a New York Minute” is indeed a great song, but it’s not an “adrenaline” song. Aside from “The Boys of Summer,” my favorite Henley solo joint is probably “The End of the Innocence,” which doesn’t fit the theme either.

    • Donna Says:

      I love “The End of the Innocence”. I agree that my former suggestion as well as this song don’t fit it with an adrenaline rush. ‘Tis good to know you’re out there somewhere. Like I could almost reach out and touch you! If you see an index finger reaching up to you from the screen of your Blackberry, LOOK OUT!

  3. Damon Says:

    Random notes:

    Taking their cues from the events in Egypt, a group of protesters is forming comprised of unhappy Comic Art Friday fans who are missing their fix lately. I’ll try to hold them off as long as I can.

    Current TV’s viewing population is now up to three.
    I’ll watch Keith — well, depending on if my cable service carries Current TV.

    I’ve got a hunch you’re going to be getting lots of voiceover work in the near future.

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