Friday, November 27, 2009

Boys of Summer

I thought I knew what love was,
What did I know?
Those days are gone forever
I should just let ’em go, but . . .

I can see you
Your brown skin shinin’ in the sun
I see you walkin’ real slow
And you’re smilin’ at everyone
I can tell you
My love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone


There are certain songs that I hope never to hear when around others. Why? Because they have the strong potential to move me to tears.

Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” (1984) is one of those songs.

Musically, it’s incredibly haunting. Lyrically, it bleeds desire, loss, and regret. Visually, the music video that accompanies this song is quite forlorn. And yet despite all of this, “The Boys of Summer” is a hauntingly beautiful declaration of unending love.




Nobody on the road, nobody on the beach
I feel it in the air, the summer’s out of reach
Empty lake, empty streets
The sun goes down alone
I’m drivin’ by your house
Though I know you’re not home

But I can see you
Your brown skin shinin’ in the sun
You got your hair combed back
And your sunglasses on, baby
I can tell you
My love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone

I never will forget those nights

I wonder if it was a dream
Remember how you made me crazy
Remember how I made you scream
Now I don’t understand
What happened to our love
But, babe, I’m gonna get you back
I’m gonna show you what I’m made of

I can see you
Your brown skin shinin’ in the sun
I see you walkin’ real slow
And you’re smilin’ at everyone
I can tell you
My love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone

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 ’em go, but

I can see you
Your brown skin shinin’ in the sun
You got the top pulled down
And the radio on, baby
I can tell you
My love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone

I can see you
Your brown skin shinin’ in the sun
You got that hair slicked back
And those wayfarers on, baby
I can tell you
My love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone


“The Boys of Summer” was a worldwide hit. It peaked at number 5 on the U.S. pop singles chart and topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It was also a hit in the United Kingdom, reaching number 12 on the UK Singles Chart. Apparently, when it was re-released in the UK in 1998, it again reached #12. I can also recall it being a big hit in Australia during my college years. Henley, incidentally, won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the song, which is ranked #416 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

About the song’s accompanying video, Wikipedia notes:

The music video to “The Boys of Summer” is a French New Wave-influenced piece directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Shot 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 a 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 a 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 appear 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.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Empty Beach
Shards of Summer


Musical artists previously featured at The Wild Reed:
Propeller Heads and Shirley Bassey, Stephen Gately, Nat King Cole, Enrique Iglesias, Helen Reddy, Australian Crawl, PJ and Duncan, Cass Elliot, The Church, Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield, Wall of Voodoo, Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy, Pink Floyd, Kate Ceberano, Judith Durham, Wendy Matthews, Buffy Sainte-Marie, 1927, Mavis Staples, Maxwell, Joan Baez, Dave Stewart & Friends, Tee Set, Darren Hayes, Suede, Wet, Wet, Wet, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Cruel Sea, Shirley Bassey, Loretta Lynn & Jack White, Maria Callas, Foo Fighters, Rosanne Cash, Jenny Morris, Scissor Sisters, Kate Bush, Rufus Wainwright, and Dusty Springfield.

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