The Boys of Summer

Author: Janet


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“The Boys of Summer” is a song sung by Don Henley, written by him and Mike Campbell. It is the lead track and first single from Henley’s 1984 album Building the Perfect Beast.

Driven by synthesizers and drum machines, the song has a haunting rhythm and feel throughout the intro, bridge, and verses, but a ‘summer-ey’ hook and guitar tones. It is widely speculated that the song is about the passing of youth and entering middle age, with the obvious theme of ‘summer love’ apparent in the choruses, and of reminiscence of a past relationship. The line, “My love for you will still be strong, after the boys of summer have gone” can be construed as a realization that relationships are often destroyed by one’s own restless youth, even though there is a conflicting internal desire for that love to flourish.

Although the title is a common nickname for baseball players, and shares its name with the 1971 book The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn, which centers on the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers championship team, Henley has stated in interviews that the song is obviously not about baseball players. The Dylan Thomas poem, “I See the Boys of Summer,” also contains the same phrase.

After a mid-way instrumental break is perhaps the song’s most famous lyric: “Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.” This image of once-countercultural Deadheads driving establishment status symbol Cadillacs immediately connected with Henley’s age group, and neatly encapsulated the song’s feelings of loss and aging. It is rumored that this line was inspired by Henley seeing Joe Walsh driving a Cadillac with a Deadhead sticker on it while on Sunset Blvd.

“The Boys of Summer” was a big hit, reaching number 5 on the U.S. pop singles chart and topping the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It was also a hit in the United Kingdom, reaching number 12 on the UK Singles Chart. A re-release of the single in 1998 also reached #12.

Henley won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the song.

“The Boys of Summer” was ranked #416 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The music video to “The Boys of Summer” is a French New Wave-influenced piece directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Shot completely in black-and-white, it shows the ‘main character’ of the song at three different stages of life (as a young boy, a young adult and middle-aged), in each case reminiscing about the past relationship. This is shown during the line “A little voice inside my head said don’t look back, you can never look back” at which point, each of the three people look back in turn. The young boy in the video (played by seven year old Josh Paul) resembles Henley to the extent that he also is a left-handed drummer. The cutaways of the “boys” jumping in the air appears to have been influenced by the 1938 film Olympia. Interspersed with these scenes are segments of Henley miming the words of the song while driving in a convertible. At its conclusion, the video uses the post-modern conceit of exposing its own workings, as with a wry expression Henley drives the car away from a rear projection screen.

The video won the Video of the Year at the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards (leading Henley to comment at the Awards the following year that he had won for “riding around in the back of a pickup”). It also won that year’s awards for Best Direction, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography. The Best Direction award was presented to Mondino by Henley’s then-former Eagles bandmate, Glenn Frey. – Source: Wikipedia

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