#66, "The Boys of Summer," Don Henley (1984)

I actually like the Eagles, the admission of which makes me both brave and wrong. My mom had their Greatest Hits collection and at one point I permanently borrowed it from her because I was so hooked on a lot of their non-Hotel California tunes. The Eagles, by the way, do not appear on this list. My love of the Eagles does not exist in a single song or even all the songs. It's a general sense-of-things. I had to review a list of Don Henley's singles to decide that no, Don Henley solo is not better than the Eagles. I only really even immediately recognize a couple of his songs apart from "Boys of Summer" which compared to his Eagles-inclusive body of work, is a pure miracle. The music was written by one of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, so I guess it stands to reason.


I have no idea when I first heard "Boys of Summer." It was certainly not in 1984 and may not have even been until the 90s and even then I didn't realize how much I actually loved it until the 2000s. In my post about "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" I mentioned that this was one of the first iTunes I purchased. What would I want with an entire album of Don Henley songs? Nothing. It's during this period that my love of this song was fully realized. I wonder how many songs like these enjoyed an early-iTunes renaissance? Where a fair number of us was like "oooh! THAT song!!" all at once. 


Baseball is romantic, isn't it? I don't enjoy watching it particularly and certainly can't manage to follow it, but I love the act of going to baseball games, love movies about baseball, and really love myself a good baseball metaphor. In the case of "Boys of Summer" this reference is both metaphorical and non-baseball literal. Summer--also a wholly romantic concept--is itself a metaphor for adolescence, the end of summer being entering into adulthood. Adolescence in fact being another metaphor for an entire generation of boomers selling out of their flower-child pasts and buying into all the spoils of the 80s. This whole song and all the metaphors-of-metaphors is a monument to cocaine-fueled songwriting. 


Pete and I sat down to watch the video for the Ataris' cover of this song recently and NICE JOB, ATARIS. The Ataris are kind of after our time and fall into that slender slice of culture in which pop punk and the musical style known at the time as emo, which left a lot of us who cut our teeth on Green Day scratching our heads. So until this viewing, I never paid it much mind, aside from the updated lyric "out on the road today I saw a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac," switching out "Black Flag" for "Dead Head," which is inspired. And has prompted Jimmy Askew to wonder what would be appropriate to switch out for "Black Flag" in an updated, updated version of the song and he suggested Green Day. I think history sees Green Day as not alt/hard enough to subs out for Black Flag. Anti-Flag, maybe? ANYWAY, Pete in particular was blown away by the vocal performance and I have always just been happy that others enjoy this song as much as I do. I was also heartened to see that Pitchfork of all publications named it one of the 500 best songs post punk (as opposed to best post-punk songs, which is a completely different list).