When it comes to music, I am still catching up. In the last few days, I have revisited Don Henley and Doobie Brothers.
As I was listening to Don Henley I started to jot down the songs that I liked. By the time I got to his 2009, “The Very Best of”, the list was almost identical to what was on the Best of album. After hearing the songs over and over again, I still don’t like “All She Wants To Do Is Dance”, “Sunset Grill”, “For My Wedding”, “Everything Is Different Now” and “Taking You Home”. They just don’t resonate.
Basically, Don Henley’s solo output to me as a casual fan of his music is a perfect example of some good songs and the rest as filler. I know that all the Don Henley fans will lynch me for saying it. But that is the truth to the casual fan.
From the first album, “I Can’t Stand Still” released in 1982, the standout songs to me are the title track “I Can’t Stand Still” and “Dirty Laundry”.
The themes in “Dirty Laundry” are still relevant today. Back in 1982, Henley displayed his disgust with the media and tabloid news. Today, people are airing their dirty laundry on Facebook, Twitter and other forums.
From the second album, “Building The Perfect Beast” released in 1984, the standout songs are “The Boys Of Summer”, “Not Enough Love In The World” and “Land Of The Living”.
What can I say, “The Boys Of Summer” was huge. It gave Don Henley a four-year victory lap (plus he served notice to Geffen Records that he will be reclaiming the recording of this song in 2019), because the third album, “The End Of The Innocence” didn’t come out until 1989. The standout songs are “The End Of The Innocence”, “New York Minute”, “The Last Worthless Evening” and the closer “The Heart Of The Matter”. The other songs don’t matter. It is these four songs that matter.
Bob Lefsetz said that to appreciate and to really get “The Heart Of The Matter” you need to have lived. You need to have played the game of love, lost and picked yourself up again. And he is right. While all of the kids make top 10 lists of what’s cool, classic songs like “The Heart Of The Matter” get lost.
“Actual Miles: Henley’s Greatest Hits” came in 1995. And I actually liked all of the three new songs. “The Garden of Allah”, “You Don’t Know Me At All”, and Henley’s cover of “Everybody Knows”.
“Inside Job” came in 2000. It was 11 years since his last solo album and on a different label. Geffen was gone and Warner Bros was in. This is the album that had better songs and since it was 11 years between solo albums, Henley had some time to perfect them.
My favourites are “Nobody Else In The World But You”, “Everything Is Different Now”, “Workin It”, “Goodbye To A River”, “Inside Job” and “My Thanksgiving.”
In between solo albums, Henley has been busy with the Eagles, Geffen contract issues, Copyright issues against Record Labels, termination rights on songs and the Eagles again.
That is why Don Henley is important. He knows his rights. While people criticise musicians who turn into business people, it was inevitable that musicians will end up taking the business path. The great record label rip off/exploitation caused it. It is just unfortunate that a lot of the musicians that didn’t achieve world-wide domination still don’t realise their rights on songs that they made famous. Not a lot of hard rock and heavy metal bands are serving notice to their record label to reclaim songs they had written 35 years ago.
While I don’t agree on everything Henley does, like sending a cease and desist letter to an independent band or trying to get a remix law taken off the radar, the bottom line is this, he is a musician that looks out for his own interests. And that is why we loved our heroes.
Remember the creed from the past.
Artists were always reinventing themselves and taking risks.
In relation to music, sometimes the audience went with it and other times they didn’t. Risk isn’t always negative. Positive outcomes can come from risk.
However it seems to be that a lot of artists are playing it safe. Don Henley on the other hand is still taking risks. Not so much musically, but politically.