"The Boys of Summer" is about looking back on a past relationship and wanting your ex back - wanting to return to what you had. The first verse depicts how the writer is left behind. His ex has moved on but he hasn't and still hangs onto hope:
But babe, I'm gonna get you back I'm gonna show you what I'm made of Those days are gone forever I should just let them go but...
At first he is hanging onto hope but then he realizes that he must let go. The "boys of summer" could refer to the boys his ex is now seeing, and how they are just summer flings, while he is in it for the long haul.
Don Henley told the NME that he really did see a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac. Said the Eagles frontman: "I was driving down the San Diego freeway and got passed by a $21,000 Cadillac Seville, the status symbol of the right-wing upper-middle-class American bourgeoisie – all the guys with the blue blazers with the crests and the grey pants – and there was this Grateful Dead 'Deadhead' bumper sticker on it!"
The opening lines, "Nobody on the roads, nobody on the beach," refer to the California coast as summer turns into fall. It becomes a much quieter place when the weather gets cold.
The title comes from a 1972 baseball book by Roger Kahn called Boys of Summer, which is about The Brooklyn Dodgers, who broke the hearts of their fans when they moved to Los Angeles. That book got its title from a Dylan Thomas poem called I See the Boys of Summer, which was published in 1939.
The music was written by Mike Campbell, who was Tom Petty's right-hand man. The two were together in Mudcrutch, then in Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Campbell co-wrote a lot of songs with Petty, including "Refugee," "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," and "Don't Do Me Like That." Campbell offered his track for "The Boys of Summer" to Petty, but he turned it down and the song went to Henley, who wrote the lyrics. Campbell played guitar on the song and also produced it.
In a Songfacts interview with Mike Campbell, he talked about recording this song: "I used to have a 4-track machine in my house and I had just gotten a drum machine - it's when the Roger Linn drum machine first came out. I was playing around with that and came up with a rhythm. I made the demo on my little 4-track and I showed it to Tom, but at the time, the record we were working on, Southern Accents, it didn't really sound like anything that would fit into the album. The producer we were working with at the time, Jimmy Iovine, called me up one day and said he had spoken with Don, who I'd never met, and said that he was looking for songs. He gave me his number and I called him up and played it for him and he called me the next day and said he put it on in his car and had written these words and wanted to record it. That's kind of how it started. Basically, he wanted to recreate the demo as close as we could. We ended up changing the key for the voice. We actually cut it in one key, did the whole record with overdubs and everything, and then he decided to change the key like a half step up or something, we had to do the whole record again, but it turned out pretty good."
The video for this song was the big winner at the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards, just the second year the awards were held. It won for Video of the Year, Best Director, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography.
The director was Jean-Baptiste Mondino, a French graphic designer/photographer who had made a video for the song "Cargo de Nuit" by a French singer named Axel Bauer. Mondino sent that video to Jeff Ayeroff, an executive at Henley's label, Geffen Records. Ayeroff flew Mondino to California and had him meet with Henley, who was baffled by the pitch but decided to go with it and let Mondino do his thing.
Speaking about his connection to the song in the book I Want My MTV, Mondino said: "I was living in Paris, and we were into a new era, more modern. But I couldn't refuse to go to LA - it was like a dream. When I got there, I was very disappointed, because there's a big difference between what I saw when I was a kid in the beautiful old Hollywood movies, and what LA's actually about. When I listened to 'Boys Of Summer,' there was something nostalgic - he was looking back, talking about something that he's leaving behind. The '70s were dying."
Shot in black and white, (as were many of Mondino's videos), it was artistic and abstract. When Henley accepted the award for Best Video at the VMAs, he admitted to having no idea what was going on when they shot the clip, but said that Mondino and his crew made "Southern California look like the South of France." Getting Henley to show up to an awards show was no easy feat - when The Eagles won the Album of the Year Grammy for Hotel California, Henley and the rest of the band skipped the ceremony.
The Ataris did a pop-punk cover of this song in 2003, when that sound was big. Mike Campbell's thoughts on their version: "I like it a lot. My son's 15, he has a punk band and he was excited about it. I thought it took some balls to try that song, it's not a song you expect a young band like that to do, but I kind of like their version of it. I listened to it closely and noticed that they had done a lot of the guitar parts and they had changed a little bit but not a whole lot. I like the way the guy sang it, they changed one lyric and I thought that was cool. I heard it on the radio three times in one day and I got kind of excited about it."
In The Ataris version, instead of saying "I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac" they say "I saw a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac." Black Flag is a hardcore punk band that Henry Rollins fronted.
Suggestion credit: Eric - Philia, PA
The Ataris played their version of this at the 2003 Home Run Derby. ESPN used the song in various promos for the event. It may have been the last time one of Henley's songs was used on the network. A short time later, ESPN hired conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh as a football analyst. Henley can't stand Limbaugh, and has refused to license his songs to ESPN ever since they put him on the air.
In 2010, Henley won a lawsuit against Chuck Devore, who was running for a US Senate seat in California. Devore - a Republican - used "The Boys of Summer" and "All She Wants to do is Dance" in his campaign advertising, which didn't go over well with Henley. A California judge didn't buy Devore's defense that he was making "fair use" of the songs. Devore didn't get the nomination, finishing third in the Republican primary.
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
MTV exposure from this song's video raised Henley's profile but cost him a degree of anonymity. With the Eagles, he was tucked away behind a drum kit, and rarely on TV. Only one video was made for his first album - that was "Johnny Can't Read," and MTV rarely played it. Once "The Boys of Summer" got in hot rotation, Henley found himself suddenly recognizable, which often made him uncomfortable.
Erica from Charleston, ScSo Don Henley was dating his manager's daughter; who was also managing The Beach Boys. So when "The Boys of Summer" (The Beach Boys) would come back for the Fall off tour, she would drop Don Henley for one of drummers. Check out some pictures and see if a particular drummer from the LA area isn't wearing shades and has his "brown skin shining in the sun, got ya hair combed back and sunglasses on".
Markantney from BiloxeApr 18,
Weird that is was offered to Petty and I'm certain he'd done the song justice but it wouldna had the same vibe Henley gives it. But you can envision Petty's voice with that melody except, I bet they'd slowed it down a notch.
Haysoose from Silver Spring, Md.This is Don Henley's best song. I didn't know, until today (some 33 years after I first heard it) that Mike Campbell wrote the music. That doesn't surprise me. Campbell is an amazing guitarist. The phrase "the boys of summer" did not first come from Roger Kahn's book about the Brooklyn Dodgers. Kahn borrowed the phrase from a Dylan Thomas poem, "I See the Boys of Summer," which begins, "I see the boys of summer in their ruin...." I've always assumed Henley was inspired by the poem, not the Kahn book, as the themes of the song echo the poem.
Markantney from BiloxeAug 2016,
All the verses are excellent but my best:
"Out on the road today, I saw a DeadHead Sticker OnaCadillac. Little voice inside my head said, "Don't Look back; you can never look back." Thought I knew what love was,..what did I know. Those days are gone forever; I should just let 'em go but,..."
And that lead guitar and them percussions, great, great, song.
Tom from NorwayIf I had to choose to have just one song in my album Collection for the rest of my life, it would be "Boys of Summer". I never get tired of listening to it. I love the sound, the production, the voice and of course the lyrics! I've heard many versions of the song, and some are good, but the noone comes close to the original!
I've thought alot about the meaning of the lyrics,and found many interesting comments here. To me the song is very special, because it sort of sums up my whole childhood/teenage years. I can almost connect each line of the lyrics to something in my teenage years. To me the song is very emotional, and it's also very melancolic and in a way sad...
I wish I could meet Don Henley once, and hear what he has to say about the song :)
Richard from Canberra AustraliaI remember reading a long time ago that Don Henley was an English major at college in Texas before he moved to California. It may be possible that he was inspired to write this song from a poem by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas called "I See the Boys of Summer'. He appears to be a fairly complex and interesting character and being a lyricist probably read a lot of poetry. Love this song!
Marc from -, MdFirst-ever interview with the girl in this video, including what she's doing now and never-published pics: http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-girl-in-video-boys-of-summer-1984.html
Denise from Pembroke Pines, FlOne of the most beautiful moments in this song is that haunting guitar solo in the middle that sounds like seagulls crying. It is so evocative of summer and the beach and heartbreakingly plaintive and moving. Truly brilliant.
Mike from Park Ridge, IlEven though it's been explained I still don't get what he means by "Boys Of Summer."
There was a singer "Marc Eric" which many probably don't know about because he was never big but he released one LP in 1969 and one of the songs on the LP was called "Where Did The Girls of Summer Go?"
Wonder if Boys of Summer means something else instead?
William Reynolds from Santa Fe, Nm, NmDoes anyone know the name or location of the surplus store the camera pans past in the video? I was in L.A. in the early 80's and that was a landmark for me when wandering around the area. Wonder if it still exists.
Kelly from Santa Barbara, CaPart 2 - Henley and Frey used to live together for periods of time when they were writing songs. Henley has said in interviews that they would "scream" and "yell" and "throw things." Henley was a neatnick and Frey was "the lovable slob." I would bet they made each other crazy...at night, they went out together to pick up girls, etc. All fits in with the lyrics "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." On the surface it sounds like an intimate romantic relationship but I believe it describes Henley and Frey's artistic collaboration.
On another level, the song is about the 60s hippies growing up to be 80s yuppies.
Kelly from Santa Barbara, CaThe "Boys of Summer" are the Eagles. In at least one interview (http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~markowit/interviews/gf/oui/oui.html) after the breakup, Glenn Frey referred to the Eagles as a "summer band." And the Eagle members were collectively known as "the boys" to people associated with their music's business side. I believe this song is Don Henley's tribute to his broken relationship with Frey, with a message of hope that it can be repaired (I'm gonna get you back) and he can be successful on his own (gonna show you what I'm made of). When he says "those days are gone forever, I should just let them go" he is talking about the Eagle's best years. I also think Frey as the person in the car with "hair slicked back" and "sunglasses on." Notice he never uses a feminine name or pronoun ..."my love for you will still be strong" is cleverly vague enough to mean a friendship as opposed to a romantic relationship. On another level, this song is also about getting older and letting go of youth. That's what makes it work so well - as in many of Henley's songs, it's quite specific, yet ambiguous enough for the listener to project her own life into it. Bravo.
Frank from Culver City, Calove the song and the video. It just takes me back to some good days just before 20 yrs old, the Jeep Wranglers blazing out good 80s music.
Bobby from Killen, Allucid much, Bucket?
Ryan from Camarillo, CaFor me, this song is truly extraordinary and in a class by itself. Why? (1) The lyrics are so-well written, meaningful, and memorable, (2) The music (sound) is unique with a terrific, one-of-a-kind sound, and (3) To top it off, the video production is downright excellent, and I'm not the only one to think so, since it won "Video of The Year" at the MTV Awards.
Jim from Chicago, Ilby he way, all you californians, you live in a special place.
Jim from Chicago, Ilim 57 and in a sad marriage and when i watch this video it gets me thinking of certain women i knew.romance is so rare. love even rarer. all you can do is love and hope the other person loves back. if he or she doesnt then you pine for the past when you thought you were loved.
Bucket from Va Beach, VaThe song is about a guy dating a chick whos into the Dead. I cant believe nobody here knows this. "the boys of summer" THe boys are the dead. he can see her walking though the parking lot or the shake down. with her shades on smiling at everyone. i think the dead head sticker gives it all away.
Bucket from Va Beach, VaThe song is about a guy dating a chick whos into the Dead. I cant believe nobody here knows this. "the boys of summer" THe boys are the dead. he can see her walking though the parking lot or the shake down. with her shades on smiling at everyone. i think the dead head sticker gives it all away.
Mayank from Ranchi, IndiaNobody else can sing this song with the same deep emotion and leave an impact like Henley's voice can. It is Henley's song, and that's the bottomline.
Matt from Cassopolis, MiI think this song is about relationships and how we lose all the fun we used to have. It's a message that we should keep the child in us so we can never forget the adventures we used to create for ourselves. Look at the guy in the suite stressed out and the clip behind him of him having a blast on the beach. It clearly has to do with the relationships between youths and adults. I'll always be a kid maybe that's just my opinion. Clearly, Legit, that's Debatable!
Dan from Woodinville, WaI completely agree with Aaron from VA Beach... this song is so melancholic and always brings on that deep sadness when you look back on the fun of younger years, longing for those days but knowing that you can never be there again.
Jeri from Berkeley, CaI think it is about the Eagles. A couple of years before the song was written, Don gave an interview about the Eagles break-up to a magazine; the journalist titled it "Goodbye to the Boys of Summer." That probably inspired the song's title. I think it's looking back with regret over the Eagles break-up and specifically his broken friendship with Glenn Frey. He and Frey were very close at one point, including being roommates for several years at the start of the Eagles and writing songs together. Both men were said to feel bad about the rift in their relationship. So, the song is a metaphor about a broken bro-mance, so to speak.
Sam from Edmonton, AbGood song, enough said.
Derek from Toronto, OnWell, I think it's just as interesting to read people's personal interpretations of songs as it is to read the true inspiration behind it.
For me, "The Boys of Summer", makes me think of a guy who lives in a small town by the beach, and is in love with this wild, free-spirited hot townie girl who dumps him to run off with the city boys who come to the beach during summer vacation.
Aaron from Virginia Beach, VaThis song just haunts me. Makes me feel sadness and longing for something out of reach, but for some reason, I like listening to it. It can mean different things to different people.
To me its mainly about lost youth (summer represents youth), and the feeling of being young. The magic of that first love. The look in her eye. Health, joy, and vitality. The future was wide open, anything was possible. Looking back you realize "those days are gone forever". We settle into our lives, and the future isn't as exciting and mysterious anymore, we've made our choices, now we must live with them.
I will always listen to this song and reflect back on my younger days even though I really should "just let them go". I will think back to a time before mortgages, career, and children defined me. When my spirit was bright and pure, and I could just "be".
Jim from Long Beach, CaThis song I believe is about lost youth and growing up. The way things use to be on the carefree days of summer. He is reflecting back now and wishes he had that girl back but things are diffeent now, it is called being an adult. Everytime I listen to this song it takes me back to the mid-80's summers I spent in Orange County, man those were the days.....
Mayank from Ranchi, IndiaThis is one of the deepest songs ever, typical classic Don Henley stuff. The amount of discussion here on 'what' it is about itself speaks for Don's skills as a lyricist. Most people say that Bob Dylan was the greatest song-writer of all time but Don, I can tell you that you are as great as Bob Dylan ever was.
Tom from West Paterson, NjThis song has always struck a nerve with me. I mean I always liked it but couldn't put a finger on it. Recently I play it over and over and can't get enough of it. It triggers so many emotions in me. Being someone about to turn 31 and thinking back to my 20s, girls I dated, sigh... It just always hits home. The video goes PERFECTLY with it too. Engraved in my memory since I was 6 years old on the Jersey Shore with my parents watching it on tv.
Lindsaye from Dennison, OhThis is driving us nuts. This song was in a movie and I can't remember what. My husband thinks it's "Top Gun" but I don't think it is. I know it's not listed on any movie SOUNDTRACK, but I know it's shown up in a movie. Can anyone help us figure this out before it drives me crazy?
Missy from Los Angeles, Ca,NEW interpretation: He DID head back to the beach, to prove himself and get his girl. He's getting up the courage. When he saw the Deadhead sticker on the Cadillac, the little voice inside his head said, "Don't look back at your pain at seeing her with the boys of summer. You can never look back." It's from Satchel Paige, the great Negro League baseball player, who said, "Don't look back. Somebody might be gaining on you." Those painful days are gone forever, and if he's to get her back he should just let them go, but, sometimes he loses faith and thinks about them when instead he needs to be strong in order to accomplish his purpose.
David from Seattle, WaThis song, like many Eagles songs, paints vivid pictures in my head. I was surprised to read the "Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac" interpretations, because the image in my head was of an old late sixties Cadillac convertible, faded paint and a little beat up - a car that a Deadhead sticker might be found on. It never even occured to me that the Deadhead sticker is seen on some yuppie's shiny new Cadillac, though that is probably the correct interpretation.
Norman from Oxnard, CaBy the way, exceuse me btw, I assume some of you here have seen the video for this song? Right at the end of the video, in there upper right corner there is a "route 101/Hollywood Freeway" sign. The screen is fuzzy and I can't tell which way north or south is on the sign. For example if north is to the right, Henley must be driving west after he turns around. It may be important for an interpretation of the song or at least the video. The reason being that if he turned around and drove back west, he is headed toward the beach again..as if to go back and get his girl. The music video does appear to show him with a family...
Norman from Oxnard, CaHello, I have done some pretty extensive checking around over the last couple weeks, and it seems almost impossible to discover who exactly was the real-life girl Henley might be referring to, if any. The fact is he was with a great number of women. I think Hugh's comment below might be an indication, but I can't seem to find anything on Henley dating a model from Kansas City. And there is nothing on baseball player George Brett in reference to Henley, on the web or in the Eagles book. One other (remote) possibility is that it could be a reference to someone he knew named Lorelei Shellist.
Elizabeth from Ithaca, NyThis song has nothing to do with Stevie Nicks
Elizabeth from Ithaca, NyIsn't this song about Maren Jensen?
Ben from Wellington, New ZealandThe song is about Henley's relationship with Stevie Nicks
Elizabeth from Ithaca, Nymy favorite Don Henley song...it's wonderful
Jimmy from Balboa Is., CaFrom the beginning of the song Don, is telling us about things that are gone or "out of reach". He uses symbolism in every word ("...the summer's out of reach. Empty lake, empty streets, the sun goes down alone), he is also talking about him; he is empty, alone, forgotten and lost. It is obvious that it talks about a lost love, but not just. "Nobody on the road, nobody on the beach..." He is placing time, where and when he lost his love, and each time the summer ends he remembers all over. Each time the boys of summer leave town, recalls him when it happened. She doesn't live there anymore. But he still goes by her house every time the summer ends, to see if he can change his destiny from the past, and make it OK this time. But something is telling him, that it is over, that her love for him died on that day, and that he most move along ("I saw a deadhead sticker on a Cadilac... don't look back, you can never look back"). He also knows that a guy, in the summertime, who was on vacation, is the one who stole her love from him. That's why he still thinks that, if the boys of summer hadn't been their, their love would still be strong. He knows there is nothing he can do to get her back, 'cause she left with another and their love died when that happened. But still he hopes every end of summer, he can change his past. So it is an anthem of summer after all, haven't any of you fell in love or lost a love in the summertime? Jimmy Steel.net
Robert from San Francisco, Cathis is a great song, an all time unforgettable classic!
Liz from Smallville, KsI LOVE this song. It seems like a weird love movie,or a drama. Don Henley's voice is so wonderful. This song has a bit of a sadness to it. Jealousy, love, loss, memories...pain...lots of emotion. It's just all put together nicely.
Constance from Dallas, Tx@Judson I agree with you intrepretation the most. It was very good. This song is about a lost love and a lost way of life. Don did a great job on this song. He is a great writer. This is for sure a classic.
Thomas from Northern Germany, -I dunno - somehow this song gives me the chills. It´s got a quite strange spirit. Nevertheless a superb song.
Erin from Wood River, IlYes! I agree with those of you who realized the sense of loss in the song. Not just loss of a girlfriend, but a loss of an entire way of thinking -- idealism and hope, etc. The way that summer turns into winter and things bland out ... youth turns into adulthood and many people let their true personaities and original dreams and idealism fade away. The deadhead sticker (as well as being a black flag sticker in the atari's cover) stands for a very unconventional, we can change our society type of attitude. Society drifts into a life of ease and commercial contentment ... the way the "ex-girlfriend" chooses the temporary comfort of the "boys of summer."
Philip from Shanklin, United Kingdom"Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac..." think about it people.This is not the ultimate summer anthem, it's about loss. The loss of youth, of love, of principle. All those hippies who were only to happy to embrace the spirit of the 80's and go for the big bucks!!
Philip from Shanklin, United KingdomTimothy from Laguna Hills hits the nail on the head. This song contains one of the great lyrics, dead head sticker on a cadillac. In one line Henley encapsulates the whole 80's experience for the hippy generation. Still being that person who maybe protested, dropped out, wanted to change the world, but now, 20 years later, slipping into a materialistic state, that was so pervasive at that time (as now, perhaps, with bling and all that). I can't understand why people see this as the ultimate summer anthem. It's all about loss, and hanging on to things that have slipped away.
Karen from Manalapan, NjMy favorite song of all time.
I'm sad when I hear it in the winter and happy when I hear it in the summer. Amazing how a song can give me two opposite emtions depending on what time of year I hear it.
I still remember getting ready for my 1st date ever (when I was 15) and this video was playing on VH1.
It didn't become my favorite song until a few years later.
Craig from Oz, AustraliaI dont care what the song means , it my all time favorite
Don from San Bernadino, United StatesHenley wrote lyrics. There is a school of thought which suggests the lyrics, while literally about "a girl", were a metaphor about the break-up of the Eagles. At one time, the Eagles were the "California sound". Remember an album called Hotel California. So, since it is always summer in LA (kinda), it is clear that a sub text to the lyrics is the break up of the Eagles, a.k.a The Boys of Summer.
Terry Cole from Southern California, United StatesWith its black and white format and awesome guitar work, Don Henley's Boys of Summer is arguably the best all-around music video of all time! The lyrics are open to interpretation, be you a romantic with a love lost or a baseball fan reeling for the return of summer. Henley's iconic voice mixes the lyrics perfectly with the music to elicit feelings of love and nostalgia. You won't be disappointed by this video and you'll find yourself watching it over and over again, as I ve been doing since it won MTV's Video Of The Year in 1985.
Chris from Chicago, IlI haven't read every post, so this may have been suggested already. Like most songs, this song can take on several different meanings. I think this could be interpreted as a reference to Henley's days with the Eagles. In some ways, the Eagles WERE the "Boys of Summer". The "girl" IS the Eagles. He references the fond memories, the fights, and how he can never go back to those days. Listen to the lyrics from that perspective. It's pretty interesting.
Michael from San Diego, CaAdd me to the list of the many who are thankful that Tom Petty turned down the opportunity to record this song....I like Petty as well, but cannot imagine anyone else capturing the emotion and torment of a recently dumped guy, especially one who sees his ex happlily in the arms of another man like Don Henly and his soulful voice could!
Mark from Washington, D.c.ABout the Va Beach reference above...yes, yes, yes. I agree.MY sons mother lived there once off season (before the boy was born) and I would visit. Cold, uninviting spooky and empty...but we both wore RayBan Wayfairers summer, fall, winter, spring. I'll always remember here with her hair slicked back and her wayfarers on
Kevin from Memphis, TnI think Don Henley is one of the more insightful songwriters in the business. This is a timeless classic. Being timeless, it seems to fit into many different interpretations. Themes of loss and regret are throughout 'Building the Perfect Beast' a title which seems to refer back to Hotel California. Which links in their tracks of similar themes. Setting the video aside for a moment, the song itself has the protagonist move from wanting to win back a lost love, to moving on, seemingly spurred by seeing a Deadhead who drives a Caddy, and still considers himself a deadhead. Simple song with a masterful delivery. Haunting. The Atari's seem to put a harder edge, and in the process lose some of the charm. The strength of the song is not lost, just a hard edge where the haunting used to be. Haven't heard the Bree Sharp version yet. Could be great, or not. Now the video, here we have visuals that point to a man who seems to have sacrificed his true love for success, and now, looks back and wonders if he made the right choice. The lost love in the video appears to have become an 80's version of the woman from Lyin' Eyes, miserable in her palace/prison. Love the 10yo Drummer, makes me wonder if the events in the video happened when Don was a kid. Like many great videos, this one adds a new dimension to the song. The black and white, and the floating Don effect (overused in the last 20 years) made for a memorable experience
Lari from Jax , FlI heard the melody for this song in a porn movie called "Holly does Hollywood", starring Cristy Canyon, sometime back before Boys of summer was released. I liked the tune then, and hummed it frequently, and was quite surprised to here it with the words Don Henley sang. Maybe I better go back and watch the movie again. uhhh...just to be sure I'm right of coarse. Can anyone verify this. It really doesn't matter, cuz it's a killer song, and reminds me of my younger days on the beaches of North Florida....ahhhhh! the memories.
Bob from Oceanside, CaI think the next line clinches it: "Don't look back, you can never look back" ... once you reach the point in your life where a Cadillac seems like a reasonable vehicle choice for you, it's time to stop putting Deadhead stickers on your car, because you are now officially No Longer Cool and the sooner you face up to that fact the better off you're going to be.
Matt from Harlan, KyThe "deadhead sticker on a Cadillac" is a reference to the changing times, not the girl's vehicle. Deadheads were known for driving "hippy-vans", and cruddy vehicles. He is saying that times have changed so much that he saw a deadhead sticker on a Cadillac, a fancy car, now that deadheads have grown older and times have changed. In the old days, you would never see a deadhead sticker on a fancy car such as a Cadillac.
Justin from Baltimore, Md"Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac".... refers to the Grateful Dead. Their fans (myself included) are known as Deadheads. I can't believe people that listen to Don Henley don't know this. Henley was a huuuuge Dead fan and was often seen backstage hanging out with Jerry Garcia and other band members. Anyways, i always kind of thought this song was about the Dead and how thousands of people would follow them. Their summer tours would criss- cross the country with their fans with them. Many relationships started and ended with the tour season. Many Deadheads are also yuppy-ish upper-middle class white folks who could very well be spotted driving a Cadillac with a Grateful Dead sticker. Many times observers have noted the dichotomy between the Dead themselves and many of their actual hippie fans compared to the other segment of their fanbase: wealthy, white, college kids who were beginning to swell the size of the Dead's fan base in the early-mid 80's.
Marissa from Racine, WiFor all the people asking about the "Deadhead" reference, I'm surprised that nobody knows. "Deadhead" is what Grateful Dead fans are called, so obviously the girl in the song is a Grateful Dead fan with a sticker on her car.
Charles from Bronxville, NyIt's evident that this song evokes a great many feelings within listeners.
IMHO it's one of those songs where the lyrics and the melody are a perfect match. There is a degree of sadness, and creepy sort of melancholy that underpins the song in the form of the repeating lead line.
The song is open to interpretation with respect to the lyrics - one could take the narrow view that it's a simple story of lost love or one could adopt a broader perspective about each passing summer and how quickly our the summers of our youth pass by.
I tend to agree with Tim Liao- the singer could be talking about the dreams for the future that the kids of the 60's had. There is certainly enough here to consider, which as I say evokes so many feelings in the listeners.
Regarding the different version - They all revolve so closely around the original that there isn't much differentiating them. The Ataris version is faster with a harder edge, but as Richard from San Jose points out,all the creepy nuances are lost.
Don did an acoustic verion of this on VH1's storytellers. It's very country and also loses a lot of its feel, but does feature a nice harmony.
Ruta from Vilnius, Europeon the road she saw a "Dead Head" sticker on a Cadillac, which, ofcourse, refers to a trash-metal band DEAD HEAD.. probably the owner of the car was a fan of this band, that's why he put its sticker on the Cadillac. but for the girl the name DEAD HEAD associated with this words original meaning - deadhead meens undecided, doubtful person.. so she adapted it to her self and decided to make up her mind, let go, don't look into the past and live for the future: "A little voice inside my head said "don't look back, you can never look back." " on the other hand, the same decision of her could have been made by remembering the bands DEAD HEAD way of performing their songs: "In the fine tradition of bands like Dark Angel, Kreator and Sadus Dead Head distilled their own way to compose songs and to make a solid impact on stage by pounding out their songs AS IF EVERY MINUTE COUL BE THE LAST." so the girl decided, that life can be short, every minute coul be the last and it's time to change her attitude.. well, atleast i think so :)
Brandon from Peoria, IlThe deadhead sticker, i believe, alludes to the Greatful Dead...why? I'm not exacly sure. Any comments?
Susan from Sioux Falls, SdDon Henley is an incredible writer, musician and singer,triple threat. The composition of Boys OS , genius. I adore his voice, always have. sultry, salty, soulful. :} I never tire of hearing this song and another favorite, Heart of the Matter. I can "hear" the heartache, experiences, growth in Henley's lyrics. Know what I mean? I understand he wandered through relationships in a painful daze for a lot of his life. Like a lot of C & W songs, Henley has the "hurt" to write and sing about in his songs. He is happy now, wife and kiddos, found his soul mate and he is into causes of the world. I betcha he's happy!!!! Writing about sour relationships and broken hearts must be way easier than "happy" songs. Whoa! Ah, but his songs and appearances are scarce now. Hmmmm could there be a connection? Don Henley, A real person and one of the most talented in 2 decades. My opinion. Eagles, Henley fan.
Stu from Fife, ScotlandI love this song; I think it's probably my all time favourite. The intro sends tingles up my spine; the lyrics are delivered with very clever, complicated timing; and it tells a story that evokes something in all off us. For me, it's the summer holiday romance that means so much more. The boys of summer just move on and forget, but for the narrator it's not that simple. I think Don Henley was being modest when he suggested this masterpiece just happended. Two questions for our American friends: 1) who or what is "Deadhead"? I always thought it was just a skull logo, so why the capital letter? 2) I presume "wayfarers" are a type of sunglasses, but am I wrong? Are they shoes?
Andy from Arlington, VaNah, I don't think a Petty version of this song would've been that good (speaking as a big Petty fan). This is an emotional song, better suited for Henley who has an emotive voice. I'm not sure how this song is the "ultimate summer anthem" since it's about the end of summer and beginning of colder days.
Nick from Cincinnati, OhWow, Tom Petty could have done this song? Wish he didn't turn it down, that would have been awesome.
Joe from Fairfax, VaI've always felt that this was one of the best pop songs ever written and obviously from all the posts here you get the feeling that I'm not stepping out on a limb. When people ever ask me what's the best song ever written, I answer immediately "Boys of Summer". I'm a Stones fan too but this song is a song I can, (and often do), listen to 3 or 4 times in a row. Once is not enough! I little trivia I 've heard concerning this song, Don Henly once said that he wrote the lyrics in 10 min.s after deciding that he wanted to try to write a song about "nothing".
Josh from Magnolia, ArI really like this song. Its got a retrospectively sad and very nostalgic feel to it. No matter how many times I hear it, each time whether it be in a car, on the radio at some mall or restraunt, or on my cds it always stops me dead in my tracks and makes me reflect.
Donald from Festus, MoThis is one of the best songs out there....but the Ataris version is no less than an atrosity. A punk band covering this song is outrageous and now most the people who hear "boys of summer" will think of the Ataris version and that takes away from the credit Don Henley deserves for this masterpiece.
Brittany from Richmond, KyDon's version is the best!
AnonymousSince the first time I heard this song, it always sends shivers up my spine and brings up immense feeling of the past. There have been some times in my life where I've been so messed up mentally and emotionally scarred (all from a girl) that I needed something to raise my hopes. And I can remember three times - all in different parts of the world, where I was under a lot of grief and forever questioned the love I had for this girl and the future. I heard this song on the radio (from a car or playing through a shop window). It may be a coincidence but I believe it was a sign of fate/destiny. Throughout my years I cannot remember this song being played anywhere (apart from my CDs and music channels) but in the background in those moments in my life where I felt the most depressed and down. The words, the music, it's telling me it's meant to be.
If i could take only one song to an island, it would be this one.
Cooper from Seattle, WaThe Ataris almost ruined this song for me
Eugenio Cardenas from Monterrey, MexicoI have been mesmerized by Romantic Literature since discovering it in a high school English class taught by Mr. Scott Garbe, whom I truly admire. There on, I have always enjoyed relating the very characteristic elements of such romanticism to lyrics and life itself; being among others, a Hero, his Quest, which is actually an Impossible Dream, the Summer, as a time of Irresponsibility (in a good sense: Vacation, Freedom, Youth, Innocence, Surf, Sun and Fun etc.), the number 3, the suffering, the dreaming, and not wanting to let go of that small string of hope, that will always remain in the question, what if'?, but also the fall and the awakening to reality. I believe that through the Boys of Summer, Henley, if that was his purpose, represents such elements in a fantastic manner. Besides conveying nostalgia and a journey to the younger years, it is also a song about life, growing up, and letting go, ('those days are gone forever I should just let them go....) I really enjoy lyrics that refer for one part, to the glory days (summer, dreams, youth, restlessness), and for another, to facing the truth, moving on with life and things, just as they turn out to be. Among other songs which I enjoy, and that in my opinion carry such romantic elements are: Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen, the End of the Innocence by Don Henley, Fields of Gold by Sting, To Be Young by Ryan Adams, The Spirit of 76 by the Alarm, and The Summer of 69 by Brian Adams.
Madeline from Melbourne, AustraliaThis song is brilliant. The Ataris version is rocking too
Eric from Cincinnati, OhI think this song has had such enduring popularity for two reasons: 1st, it has a really amazing sound (fast-tempo and haunting at the same time) that you can't help but fall in love with. 2nd, the lyrics really hit home -- How many of us have never looked longingly back on a past romantic relationship?
Mix Master Wipe from Adelaide, AustraliaCool beat and lyrics,Henley's version is best
Craig from Madison, WiIn regards to the comment that this is dull in comparison to the Atari's version, saying it's "go to sleep music", it is more accurately "can't go to sleep" music. It's about being afraid of the dark, not for monsters in the closet, but rather the thoughts that come when lying awake. It's the song that plays in your car late at night when the radio's off and you don't want to drive home, because you're even more alone there. Nostalgia, they say, is "hypochondria of the soul." That's what this song is when Henley sings it. The Atari's have no sense of the mood. They just thrash along like it's any other song. It's a song written by much older musicians who have been through much more in life. I don't want to get down on the A's, but it just sounds like they don't understand the song yet. You can take any song, speed it up and sing like you're in Green Day, but without a strong feeling behind it, you're just doing an ironic novelty act. I'm sure you might find my thoughts on this song to be an embarrassing confessional, but as an anti-Eagle, it is more embarrassing for me to admit how much I like this song.
Marlow from Perth, Australiathis song is still played on western australian charts as if it was still in the top 40 now... this and brian adams 'summer of 69' which ironically are very similar songs with similar voices, reminisant lyrics, and close release dates.. 1985
Dee from Indianapolis, InMany an interesting comment about this song, but I will have to agree that it reminds me of a lost love and my 1st at that. I would say it looks more like the East coast area in the video then the west, but I guess it could be either. I would never connect this to the boys of summer in regards to baseball, but I guess everyone has a right to their ideas about the tune. The video really says it all, and has to be one of the best ever made for an MTV era that actually played videos. In regards to the remake, I don't think it wasn't to bad, I just have a problem with groups or artist that remake songs hoping to capitalize on past successes.
Wilfred from Melbourne, AustraliaI really don't have too much of a problem with the Ataris covering this song... I mean, I'm 16 and I am one of the few people of my generation that realise that music fads of today like, RAP (Retards Attempting Poetry) for example, really don't measure up to the classic and immortal work of guys like Don Henley and The Eagles (who are my favourite band, incidentally). It is a great way to get older music out there to younger people. For example, my friend is a huge punk rock fan, heard the Ataris version, and I was able to get him hooked on Henley's original and other classic rock masterpieces. So, in summary, it's beneficial to the immortality of "The Boys of Summer" to respect what the Ataris did. As for the dance version, however... it was a terrible piece of music, but the vocals were interesting coming from a female perspective. Peace out, rock on.
Dana from Manassas, VaI love this song so much. I always liked it because it's about summer fading away. Then I found out that "Boys of Summer" refered to Baseball... and over the summer I work at a baseball stadim... so it's one of my favorite songs.
Rebecca from Blacksburg, VaThis song is about college summer league baseball. Since the beginning of time, summer league players have been referred to as the 'boys of summer'. When they come into town, they're the hot, cool guys the local girls go see play and then hang out with. So yeah, his girl got a crush on and started seeing a player, and kinda forgot about her boyfriend during the season...and he's just saying that when they're all gone and back to their schools, wherever that might be, that he'll still love her. :)
Jonathan from Oklahoma City, OkGreat Song...I have actually has seen a DEADHEAD sticker on the back of a Caddy!!!
Dave from Cardiff, WalesIf you disliked the Ataris' version, then you should have heard DJ Sammy's 2003 dance version. Abysmal. Living proof, yet again, that dance versions of rock classiscs simply do not work. Henley's version was twice a UK hit - it originally made No.12 in 1985, and, when re-released in 1998 to coincide with the release of a 'best of' album, it also made No.12, despite selling less than a quarter of the total copies it sold on the 1985 release!
Richard from Belle Vernon, PaA little note about the "DEADHEAD sticker" line...In a 1986 interview with Timothy White, Don explained the inspiration for the verse..."I was on the San Diego freeway when I saw the sticker. People probably have an image that I'm talking about one of those old hearses we used to have in the '60's, but it was actually a brand new Cadillac Seville and it had this big, green sticker on the back that said, 'DEADHEAD'. It went from the freeway right into the song."
Victor from Vienna, Vaprobably one of the most nostalgic tunes...absolutely love it
C from Omaha, Neyou wanna Know why the ataris made a version? its because the lyrics rock but it is LAME-O ...seriously i love the lyrics but COME ON sounds like a soundtrack to fall asleep to ..... Waste of time ((NO)) or the only remake thats good(yes!)... i can really relate to this sond"once i get you back im gunna show you what im made of" ((my motto)) and at least now my generation get s to hear an awesome song...that under normal circumstances maybe they wouldnt have
Judson from Birmingham, AlI had a class that this song was disscussed, this is a very deep song if you look at what is in front of you. This song has to do with finding the person you are suppose to be with in your youth, and you let them slip away because of your own drive to success. The video gives a great indication that this is what this song is about, youth and the way you can get lost on the way. Look at the video. The song and the video are both recorded in the mid 80's, the "WALL STREET" era. The guy is sitting at his desk and the tv's behind him represent his thoughts. He looks back at the screen and breaks his pencil, he knows that he made a mistake by letting her go. She also made the same mistake in her rise to the top. She is sitting by a pool and she is thinking about him and that summer when she fell in love with him. The both blew somehting they had to make it to the top, the yuppy generation. The part of the song that says, " Out on the road today, I saw a dead head sticker on a cadillac, a little voice inside my head said don't look back, you can never look back." This represents the fact that he sold out to things that he once was so against. The cadillac did and still does, represent the pinnacle representation of reaching the top in America life. People always refer to the the cadillac of such and such. The dead head sticker represents the fact that even though he sold out, a piece of him still holds onto what he onced believed in his youth. He once believed so differently than the way he lives now. He sold out to the "MAN" and "SOCIETY", which cost him both his beliefs and the person he onced loved so very much in his youth. He wants to get her back so he can prove to her that the man he has become is not what he was and not what he wants to be. This is the perfect song for people trying to reach the top, and forget what is really important in life, and in the end, they cannot get it back, even though they would love to prove what they are made of. This is a classic song for this generation, and it even applies in the world we live into today.
Colin from Columbia, MdMichael from Darnestown, MD........ You are dead on about this song and Ocean City, Maryland. When I graduated from high school, Ocean City was the traditional place for "senior week". Fun beach town, alot of swimming, alot of women, and a lot of unconsciousness.
Anyways, I left Ocean City that summer with that summer feel, image and colors in my brain. I returned recently after I graduated from University to drop something business related and it was late fall. The town was empty, ghostlike, dead. Boys of Summer was just an exact dead on feel for the moods I experienced there at the time.
Greg from Worcester, MaWhat's the line about deadhead stickers on cadillacs all about?
Michael from Darnestown, MdFor me, this reminds me of pre/teen summers spent between DC and Ocean City in Maryland, the heat, the relief from public school, and how much it hurt over more than just a summer as my best (girl) friend from second grade slipped away out of our close friendship to high school guys and then on to marriage. I still think dearly of "Cyndian" when I hear this song (it was her favorite, and it hit just at that time), feel that old familiar pain, and zip right back to a forlorn realization of loss that also makes me somehow smile every time but with a tear.
Not spooky, not eerie, just sudden, as in an overwhelming sudden sense of loss. How suddenly --like a light switch that flips off at Labor Day-- most everyone vanishes from the beach...out of relationships...onto different stages and next steps...and how the echoes of what was once so good can linger and reverberate powerfully for a lifetime.
Agreed about identical "remakes". Lame! Yes, it's *really* tough to play it to sound identically, but that is so rarely the point of music, which is (at its best) the uniquely personalized effects and experiences of shared and similar themes. Being a drummer, maybe that's why I also disdain drum machines.
Hugh from Kansas City, MoThis is actually a real life story about Henley getting dumped by a local blonde super model....she went for George Brett instead.
Tom from Alma, GaHenley has his own brand of politics, for sure, but he is a great musician, so I'll just enjoy his music and leave him to deal with the pleasures, and pains (getting booed off stage) of free speech.
Timothy Liao from Laguna Hills, CaNot one of you mentions the real meaning of this song. The song is about the summer of love in the 1960s. All these once hippies became yuppies in the 1980s and this is a song about not looking back to that decade. Its interesting because many of Don Henley's songs are really misinterpreted. For instance you should read my comments about the "End of Innocence". If you listen to most of Henley's material he rarely ever writes love songs but everyone seems to interpret his songs as love songs. This is a man with true liberal political convictions that come out in his music.
Dave from Enumclaw, WaBree Sharp did a fantastic cover of this song. She really brings out the sense of loss almost as good as Henley did in the original. This song has always brought goosebumps to me. I just really got it. And spending the end of the tourist season in Virginia Beach really brought home the sense of emptiness. No one around, stores closed for the season, spooky!
Richard from San Jose, CaI agree with Katt about the song being the ultimate summer anthem. I'm surprised Mike Campbell liked the Ataris version. My impression was that the nuances were lost.
Nick from New York, NyWhat movie featured this song? Thanks for your help!
Kenneth from New York, NyThe Ataris version is a bit harder, but you're right it's mostly the same.
G-chord from Alexandria, VaWhy did the Ataris do a cover of Henley's song with such precision? It sounds exactly the same minus the Deadhead/Black Flag sticker switch. Why bother...waste of time. I hope Don gets major royalties out of it!
Katt from Evansville, InJon Bon Jovi once said that this is the one song he wishes he wrote. It's the ultimate summer anthem.