Sunset Grill

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

Songfacts®:

  • 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."

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