Home > This Week on my I-Pod > This week on my i-pod #6 – Henley and the Summer of 85

This week on my i-pod #6 – Henley and the Summer of 85

March 26th, 2006

Music is at it’s best when it moves you beyond all rational reason. For me music can create an emotional connection that visual art or movies simply can’t. It can be for different reasons: sometimes it’s a memory that it returns me too. Sometimes it just stirs an emotion in me that is unexpected.

This week, I turned on Don Henley’s greatest hits and was immediately, wonderfully transported to the summer of 1985. A lot happened that summer, two that matter here. I had broke up with the ‘love of my life’ that spring, and I went to a Don Henley concert. The break up is relevant because the Boys of Summer always, always reminded me of her. To this day it is like Don Henley is describing her in that song:

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 see you-
Your brown skin shinin’ in the sun
I see you walkin’ real slow and you’re smilin’ at everyone…

I can see you-
Your brown skin shinin’ in the sun
You got that top pulled down and that radio on baby…

I can see you-
Your brown skin shining in the sun
You got that hair slicked back and
Those wayfarers on, baby…

That’s her all right, the slicked back her, brown skin on the beach. I can sense her still in that song, all these years later. And his Henley’s response to her is so visceral, so copmpletely on the mark to what I was feeling then:

And 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’s happened
To our love,
But babe, I’m gonna get you back
I’m gonna show you what I’m made of…

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 them go but-

That was it exactly. I was going to wait her out and I was going to show her. Here it is, more than 20 years on I think of her rarely, unless Boys of Summer comes on, then she gets some memory time. All the girls I knew, all the times I was heartbroken, there is not one song that brings back a person and time like Boys of Summer does for me.

Then there was the concert. I dated a girl that summer whose name, sadly, escapes me. She was one of the nicest women I ever dated, and she was in the process of mending her own broken heart. We were dating really casually, more like friends than lovers, and it was her birthday. Nothing was planned because, well that’s not the kind of relationship we had going. But I heard an ad for Don Henley at Kingswood (Wonderland), part of the $5.00 concert series, and called to see if she wanted to go. So off we went, caught a couple of rides, then to a show neither of us had any expectations for.

I don’t know why I didn’t know what to expect, I had been a big fan of Henley’s first solo album, I Can’t Stand Still, when it first came out, had been an Eagles fan all thorough high school, Sunset Grill and All She Wants to Do is Dance had been hits off the Building the Perfect Beast Album, and Boys of Summer was on the charts at the time. But for some reason I had tuned out Henley that summer, and had forgotten I was ever a fan.

Then a funny thing happened, the rains came. It poured an hour before the show, and we had lawn seats. Huddled under a one of those cheap plastic dollar rain ponchos, unable to sit because our seat for the night was now mud, we met our neighbours up on the hill. The next thing you know, we are having a good time with a good group of people, who haven’t much to do except a) complain about the weather/mud seats or b) enjoy themselves. We enjoyed. Dancing to the pre-show music, sharing laughs and (if I remember right) somebody’s smuggled bottle.

Katrina and The Waves were the opening act – Walking On Sunshine was a hit that summer as well – and they were OK. I expected bland pop, but they were better than that. It was a good omen, but who knew. Then Henley came on. What I remember so distinctly was he opened with the song Building The Perfect Beast. It has an 80’s electronic feel, and he came out robot dancing, everybody choreographed like they were Devo. We are wet, standing on the hill looking at each other and thinking, how many songs do we give this? I’m planning on getting some rides in within 20 minutes, and my date is thinking the same thing. Then Building The Perfect Beast ended, and Henley says “Now that we got the crap out of the way…”

From there on it was one of the best shows I have ever attended. He played nothing but great songs, all the solo hits plus some Eagles material. The only choreography was at the very end, when he tangoed with one of the singers while the band played the solo section from Hotel California. He played a song I was unfamiliar with, A Month of Sundays and we all stood on the grass weaving back and forth, like they do on TV concerts. It was a perfect night, a great concert, made all that much better because it was unexpected.

So now when I listen to Don Henley, I always manage to remember that night – and Boys of Summer takes me even further into the summer of 85.

This Week on my I-Pod

  1. Joanne (True Blue)
    March 27th, 2006 at 07:45 | #1

    I share your enthusiasm for Don Henley, Brian, but what does your wife think about all this reminiscing? 😉

    BTW, the Grand Poubah himself (S.T.) asked me to join B.T. I told him I would be happy to do so after I resolve some technical issues.

    Now, I’m going to dig out my Don Henley CD’s and see if any lost loves come to mind…

  2. Brian
    March 27th, 2006 at 19:15 | #2

    I share your enthusiasm for Don Henley
    I’m beginning to think I like you 🙂 Kitchener Rangers, red wine while you blog, Don Henley fan, conservative to boot.

    what does your wife think about all this reminiscing?

    Don’t think she’s een it yet, but I’m sure when she does she’ll chime in with a comment and we’ll both find out.

    I’m going to dig out my Don Henley CD’s and see if any lost loves come to mind.

    If Heart of the Matter doesn’t conjure someone, nothing will.

  3. Joanne (True Blue)
    March 28th, 2006 at 09:58 | #3

    LOL!! Really better not let your wife read that!

    But yeah, Heart of the Matter, eh? Gotta put that one on. I just love the sound of Henley’s voice; it’s so unique that I sometimes forget to pay attention to the lyrics.

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