Thursday, February 1, 2018

Don Henley: The Boys Of Summer

"Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.
A little voice inside my head said, 'don't look back you can never look back.'
I thought I knew what love was what did I know.
Those days are gone forever I should just let them go but...."

Variety in popular music, like anything else, is the spice of life. There are so many fantastic songs. It's hard to narrow down a favorite.

At this stage in my life this writer has enjoyed and immersed himself in a lot great music. I've also come to the conclusion I could reasonably narrow down a desert island top 10 without too much effort. There are some songs that just work for me that way. I've listened to them so many times I still never tire of hearing them. They are flawless to my ears and just never grow old.

Don Henley's The Boys Of Summer easily falls into the category of top ten favorites.

Oddly, maybe, the lead track from Building The Perfect Beast (1984) was issued in October of that year preceding the November release of the album.

Never a summer release Henley plays the song with a wistful nostalgia utilizing summer as a metaphor for his youth. The song works as a reflection on life and his past as much as it is a mirror to our own lives. The accompanying video, directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, was as powerful visually surveying the various phases in Henley's life. But there is indeed a universal, emotional resonance at the song's core that allows everyone to connect.

Henley was older when he recorded the song and The Eagles were all but finished at the time. He must look back and wish he was that old today.

The Boys Of Summer is a gem of pop construction with Henley's incredible musical touches right from the opening. Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers' Mike Campbell is largely responsible for the success of the song's sound performing and producing on the track. The song peaked only at number five on Billboard but remains far more remarkable as a pop classic than many that have hit the number one spot before or since. However, Henley did justifiably receive a Grammy for the vocal on this track.

The song itself is perfect and not surprisingly many have deferred any go at performing an interpretation of it and though Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet did a nice cover of it, it still doesn't come close to the original.

The album itself had a number of memorable tracks like All She Wants To Do Is Dance and Not Enough Love In The World among my favorites, but I recall in my youth thinking that Building The Perfect Beast was never quite the perfect beast, but rather just missing the mark in its construction.

As solid a recording as it is nothing on it stands head and shoulders next to the eloquence and melodic beauty of The Boys Of Summer. Today still the song recalls nothing but lovely memories from my own youth and somehow that song encapsulates the very best of it in song. It is truly a timeless gem.

Building The Perfect Beast (1984). B+. Recommended. A solid recording darted with some real highlights. The recording remains with you even after all these years.

The Boys Of Summer. A+. The lead off track on the aforementioned recording. It is, for me, one of the best pop songs ever recorded. Essential to this boy's existence.

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