Don Henley

The Boys of Summer

Composed by Mike Campbell / Don Henley

Song Review by

Upon its release in late 1984, after the prolonged and dispiriting end of the Eagles, a period of personal turmoil, and a somewhat unfocused solo debut, "The Boys of Summer" not only reestablished Don Henley as a major star, it accomplished something he'd never had before in his entire career: rock critics, uniformly, absolutely loved this song, even those who had spent years gleefully making sport of the Eagles' excesses. It's not hard to do, really. The tune -- written and almost entirely performed by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers -- is melancholic and gorgeous, and Henley wisely dials down his histrionic tendencies to deliver the most low-key vocal performance of his career, singing the verses in a quiet near-monotone that perfectly counterpoints the beseeching chorus. Although much was made of the yuppie-baiting line about a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac (although one rather doubts that Henley was driving a beat-up Datsun at the time himself), the song's overall feel is much more personal and intimate than that soundbite suggests. It's truly Don Henley's masterpiece.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Building the Perfect Beast 1984 Geffen 4:45
Actual Miles: Henley's Greatest Hits 1995 Geffen / Universal 4:45
Now That's What I Call Music! 40 [UK] 1998
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI 4:46
The Very Best of Don Henley 2009 Geffen / Universal 4:48
80s Mixtape
Various Artists
Universal 4:47