Don Henley – The End of the Innocence

Bruce Hornsby played piano on this and wrote this with Henley.  I did like Don Henley’s solo albums in the 80s. I had this album and I wore it out in the late 80s. This one is probably my favorite Henley album. I prefer his solo music to the Eagles.

When the Eagles broke up in 1980, Joe Walsh (loved The Confessor ) and Glenn Frey also launched solo careers. They all did fairly well, but Henley was the most successful. The Eagles re-formed in 1994 for their Hell Freezes Over tour.

The End of the Innocence peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100, #3 in Canada, and #48 in the UK.

The End of the Innocence album peaked at #8 in the Billboard Album Charts.

The End Of The Innocence was Henley’s third solo album. He didn’t release another for 11 years.

From Songfacts

The “Tired old man that we elected king” is a reference to US president Ronald Reagan. There are a lot of political overtones in the song, as Henley strongly opposed Reagan’s agenda.

The line about “Beating ploughshares into swords” is a distortion of Isaiah 2:4 in which Isaiah describes the end times: “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

The inversion of the words most likely hints at the decline of the number of family farms and the increase in US military power in the ’80s as a signal of the end times of innocence. 

David Fincher directed the music video. Around this time, he was taking the form to a new level, with cinematic textures and storylines that would later appear in his films (The Game, Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Other videos he directed around this time include Madonna’s “Vogue” and Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got A Gun.”

Bob Dylan often performed this on his 2002 US tour.

You can’t the get original video on youtube from Donny…he doesn’t allow it…so here is a live version.

The End of the Innocence

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standing by

When happily ever after fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers dwell on small details
Since daddy had to fly

But I know a place where we can go
Still untouched by man
We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind

You can lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end

This is the end of the innocence
O’ beautiful, for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening
They’re beating plowshares into swords

For this tired old man that we elected king
Armchair warriors often fail
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers clean up all details

Since daddy had to lie
But I know a place where we can go
And wash away this sin
We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by

And the tall grass wave in the wind
Just lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair spill all around me
Offer up your best defense

But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence
Who knows how long this will last
Now we’ve come so far, so fast

But, somewhere back there in the dust
That same small town in each of us
I need to remember this
So baby give me just one kiss

And let me take a long last look
Before we say good bye
Just lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me

Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

42 thoughts on “Don Henley – The End of the Innocence”

  1. I agree totally with that first paragraph- Henley’s solo stuff over The Eagles- every day of the week. He was on a pretty good run in the 80’s I don’t understand why he then went 11 and then 15 years between solo albums. I guess with all the money from those Eagles re-union tours he didn’t have to.. Eagles most overrated band in history..just saying.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was going to say the same thing. Why in the world did he stop? But yea I guess the Eagles reunion wiped everything out. It killed his solo momentum…you know I agree.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought each solo album in the 80’s got better and better. I think not having any money issues- kind of kills the incentive. With others it is what they do- and they keep doing it- maybe they just can’t stop doing it. Dylan and McCartney come to mind- certainly both could sit back -relax and just do what they wish with the rest of their lives- but they keep on going…

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      2. I guess that is the difference. The ones that think money first have stopped doing them because of the way things are now but Dylan and McCartney are good examples of doing this for the love of it. They can’t make a bunch from them anymore.
        I remember when Dylan almost died 20 or so years ago…he said he would continue as long as he could.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I am sure we have discussed this before but I don’t see Dylan ever going on a ‘retirement’ tour. A day will come when he can’t do it and that will be it– maybe it will end on the road. who knows. I don’t see him looking for the ‘payday’ of announcing a big final tour which would bring in bigger crowds… Paul- I can see having a final tour.

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      4. Yes Dylan will keep people guessing til the end. Ending on the road probably wouldn’t bother him at all.
        These guys are amazing Hans. I try to imagine my late 72 year old grand dad…no way could I ever see them doing this. I know they have the money for training and eating right but still…at that age that is something. I feel old at 53.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. LOL I think one night and I would be cancelling the tour! Springsteen kind of stands out as someone who really keeps himself fit.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. He has to…he puts on longer shows than the young ones.
        Also something must have been in the water in WW2 era England. Skinny legs and living long. I have the Ringo DVD of the Ryman show that I saw him …he is bouncing everywhere. Jagger, Richards, Beck, Stewart, Wood, McCartney and the list goes on.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Good point- and I don’t recall any of those mentioned every really putting on weight- they’ve all stayed in decent shape- lord knows how they abused themselves back in the day but they survived and still out there!

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  2. Yeah, I liked a lot Henley’s solo stuff, too. I’m a Bruce Hornsby fan as well. But I’m an Eagles fan too. Where I come from, The Eagles were to us, what Lynyrd Skynyrd was to the South. I got tired of them–and I didn’t want to listen to them for awhile, but, to me, it was always about over exposure and not about lack of talent or bad music. That said, I’ve always preferred the Joe Walsh Eagles and I love The James Gang and his solo stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so weird…I love Joe Walsh…I like Joe Walsh better than the Eagles but if I had to listen to something it would be the early stuff with the harmonizing. I can’t explain it Pam.

      I know what you mean about LS and the Eagles. The south adopted the Eagles. Maybe I’ve heard them too many times but that doesn’t stop me liking other artists I have heard too many times. Something about Frey and Henley I don’t like.
      I like Don Felder, Joe of course, Leadon, and Randy Meisner. Complicated feelings about the Eagles for some reason.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand that. I have similar feelings about Led Zeppelin and The Doors. I like some music from both bands a lot, but overall, not so much. I don’t dismiss their talent, I just rarely listen to them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Have not. Good?…I don’t know what you thing about Johnny Winter…I think he’s a phenomenal guitar player. There’s a great documentary about him on Netflix, Down and Dirty. Another great one about Ginger Baker, Beware of Mr Baker. Highly recommend both of those.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Depends on your perspective. Henley and Frey really think a lot of themselves in the doc…from what I remember when they did the reunion…Walsh and Felder were on a salary and it goes on from there.
        Love Johnny Winter and Edgar. I need to catch that one.

        I have the Beware of Mr. Baker…he was a feisty old man…and young man. Still fighting with Jack Bruce to the end.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That sux. That’s like Jimmy Page and Robert Plant cutting out John Paul Jones out of the Plant and Page tour. I saw them. They were good but they would have been a lot better with Jones. I always wondered why they didn’t reunite with Jason Bonham on drums? It’s a no brainer…Felder and Walsh on salary?! That’s disgusting.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I try to do a good job separating artists and their work…but that didn’t help on my view with the Eagles. It is a good documentary though. Felder got fired because he disagreed with the salary thing also.
        From what I’ve read it was Plants doing I believe. Page always wanted to reunite…Plant didn’t want people to think they were reuniting. It was a low thing to do to Jones…who is the best pure musician in that band.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great song, both ‘Building the Perfect Beast” and ‘End of the Innocence’ were outstanding albums with nary a bad track. Hornsby’s piano was the perfect finishing touch for the song.
    I don’t understand Don and/or Geffen though on their youtube policy– he made some pretty good videos (as videos go) back in the 80s but good luck finding most of them. Now, if it were Duran Duran or ZZ top, I could maybe get it thinking they were holding out to sell DVDs of them, but I can’t see it being a huge potential market for Don.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it hurts his own self. Don and the Jimi Hendrix estate are the two hardball ones. Dylan finally said screw it and opened up the gates.

      His 80s albums were great…I do like all of them but this one is probably my favorite. It’s odd Dave that he would stop at this one…I know he had the Eagles reunion but waiting 11 years is too long.

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  4. Talented guy but why does he look so grumpy all the time?
    Lol
    I still remember watching Farm Aid about 30 years ago on my friends satellite dish and out stroll Guns n Roses with Henley on the drums!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He is not Mr Sunshine that is for sure… he can be a bit on the pretentious side.
      Henley and Guns and Roses… he needed to do a tour with them… that might have loosened him up lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He is something. He always walks about like he lost his best friend. He is not a barrel full of laughs. His band mate on the other hand…Joe Walsh…who wouldn’t want to have a beer with him?

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    1. The Heart of the Matter was played endlessly when I got it…I was going through a breakup…that song works perfectly for that!

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  5. A really good album. I have a nice memory of seeing him live with some high school friends on this tour just before we all went our separate ways for college. Hornsby also does a nice version of the title track.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve enjoyed some of Henley’s solo stuff. And, I am an Eagles fan. But, Henley and Frey, both, are (were) asses. There wasn’t a single thing Frey ever put out, solo, that I liked. Talk about overblown egos. And, Felder called them on it
    https://ultimateclassicrock.com/the-eagles-fire-don-felder/
    It’s ALL about the money.

    I also find his reference to Reagan amusing. Yeah…because the Carter Administration would have been SO much better for us. NOT. Ditto that moron “I will raise taxes,” Mondale. I love these self-important musicians that make their millions from a capitalist system but, want everyone else to live as socialists/communists. Hypocrites.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew they were bad but paying Joe Walsh a salary while they split the profit? No way.
      Erasing Felder’s voice to Victim of Love while the manager took him out to dinner?
      I usually can separate Artists from their work…it’s really hard with them.

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  7. I love Don Henley. I met him once at his book signing, “Heaven is Under Our Feet”, many moons ago. It was one of those rare days where it was pouring down rain in LA, and I waited outside in the rain for 2 hours. He was nice and humbled that I would do that to support him. I also used to know someone who played on his solo albums. He’s very intense, but he is a good guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea he seems very intense…I’m glad you had a good experience. It’s tough because they have bad days like the rest of us…and they know if they are bad that day…it will be the only memory people will have.

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