Sunset Grill

Album: Building the Perfect Beast (1984)
Charted: 22
Play Video


  • Don Henley wrote this song with guitarist Danny Kortchmar and keyboard player Benmont Tench. Kortchmar, who played on popular albums by Carole King, Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon, was a key contributor to Henley's first three solo albums, co-writing and producing many of the tracks. Tench is a member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - he has also written songs with Lone Justice ("Sweet, Sweet Baby") and Hal Ketchum ("Stay Forever").

    The Sunset Grill is a real place and a favorite spot for Henley. Located on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, it's a place where Henley could see how everyday people interact, which isn't always easy to do when you're a celebrity in LA.
  • Henley had the title and lyrical theme in mind for this song, but needed the right music to go with it. As he did with "New York Minute," Danny Kortchmar came up with a tune that he thought fit what Henley had in mind, and they hashed out the song from there.
  • The song is about more than just a hamburger joint. In our interview with Danny Kortchmar, he explained: "Sunset Grill is a real hamburger place on Sunset Boulevard that Don used to go to. He admired the fact that the same family and the same people had run it for many years, and that the burgers were made with love - they were everything he liked about American society. So he used that Sunset Grill as a metaphor for what he liked, what he thought was great about society. And then he also used it to describe what he didn't like, which is plenty."

    What Henley didn't like is the vapid commercialism and duplicity that was so common around Hollywood. In many ways, the song answers the question many denizens of Los Angeles ask: "why do we live here?" The answer is found in the last line of the song: "all our friends are here."

Comments: 2

  • Bob from Upstate New YorkI can relate to the content of this song in so many ways. I see myself and many friends who fit nicely into the people described in the lyrics and in the mindset of why we are here, why we are still here, and the likelihood that we will still be sitting right here...same place, next year. Love Don Henley songs.
  • Lee from Southwest GeorgiaLove that sunset grill song
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat WorldSongwriter Interviews

Jim talks about the impact of "The Middle" and uses a tree metaphor to describe his songwriting philosophy.

Ian Astbury of The Cult

Ian Astbury of The CultSongwriter Interviews

The Cult frontman tells who the "Fire Woman" is, and talks about performing with the new version of The Doors.

Muhammad Ali: His Musical Legacy and the Songs he Inspired

Muhammad Ali: His Musical Legacy and the Songs he InspiredSong Writing

Before he was the champ, Ali released an album called I Am The Greatest!, but his musical influence is best heard in the songs he inspired.


CommercialsFact or Fiction

Was "Ring Of Fire" really used to sell hemorrhoid cream?

Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, Heaven And Hell

Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, Heaven And HellSongwriter Interviews

Guitarist Tony Iommi on the "Iron Man" riff, the definitive Black Sabbath song, and how Ozzy and Dio compared as songwriters.

Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs

Tim Butler of The Psychedelic FursSongwriter Interviews

Tim and his brother Richard are the Furs' foundation; Tim explains how they write and tells the story of "Pretty In Pink."