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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. (thanks, Kent - Pittsfield, IL)
Bruce Hornsby played piano on this and wrote this with Henley. Hornsby had a US #1 hit with "The Way It Is." (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL)
This was Henley's third solo album. He didn't release another for 11 years.
When the Eagles broke up in 1982, Joe Walsh 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.
Bob Dylan often performed this on his 2002 US tour.
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash
The Wishbone Ash guitarist on how touring with The Who inspired one of their most enduring songs, and why they moved to America at the peak of their powers.
Danny played guitar on Sweet Baby James
, and Running On Empty
. He also co-wrote many hit songs, including "Dirty Laundry," "Sunset Grill" and "Tender Is The Night."
Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"
"How much does it cost? I'll buy it?" Another songwriter told Jonathan to change these lyrics. Good thing he ignored this advice.