The Boys of Summer (song)

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"The Boys of Summer"
Single by Don Henley
from the album Building the Perfect Beast
B-side "A Month of Sundays"
Released October 29, 1984 (1984-10-29)
Format 7" vinyl CD
Recorded 1984
Genre Rock
Length 4:47 (Album version)
3:54 (single edit)
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Don Henley, Mike Campbell
Producer(s) Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar, Greg Ladanyi, Mike Campbell
Don Henley singles chronology
"I Can't Stand Still"
"The Boys of Summer"
"All She Wants to Do Is Dance"
Audio sample
file info · help

"The Boys of Summer" is a song released in 1984 by Eagles vocalist and drummer Don Henley, with lyrics written by Henley and music composed by Henley and Mike Campbell.

It is the lead track and first single from Henley's 1984 album Building the Perfect Beast and reached the top five in the United States as well as the top position on the Top Rock Tracks chart and number 12 in the UK Singles Chart. It re-charted at number 93 in August 2013.

The song's music video won many awards. "The Boys of Summer" was also performed live by Henley with the reunited Eagles; such a version is included on the group's 2005 Farewell 1 Tour-Live from Melbourne DVD.


Henley's song is cemented by Campbell's 1-7-5 repetitive riff over a vi-IV-V-IV chord pattern. Superficially, the song appears to be about the passing of youth and entering middle age, with the theme of 'summer love' apparent in the choruses, and of reminiscence of a past relationship.[1]

In a 1987 interview with Rolling Stone, Henley explained that the song is more about aging and questioning the past[2]—a recurring theme in Henley's lyrics (cf. "The End of the Innocence",[3] and "Taking You Home".[4])

In an interview with NME in 1985, Henley explained the 'Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac' lyrics as an example of his generation selling out:

"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!"[5][6]

In an interview with, Neil Giraldo, Pat Benatar's guitarist and husband, says that Henley came in the studio while he was in the process of recording the song "Love Is a Battlefield" using an up tempo beat, and asked Giraldo if he could steal the sound for use in his song, "The Boys of Summer", to which Giraldo gave his permission.[7]


"The Boys of Summer" reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Top Rock Tracks chart for five weeks. It was also a hit in the United Kingdom, reaching number 12 on the UK Singles Chart. A re-release of the single in 1998 also reached #12.

In 1986, Henley won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the song.[8]

"The Boys of Summer" was ranked #416 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

"The Boys of Summer is included in The Pitchfork 500, Pitchfork Media's "Guide to the Greatest Songs from Punk to Present."[9]

Music video[edit]

The music video to "The Boys of Summer" is a French New Wave-influenced piece directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Shot in black-and-white, it shows the main character of the song at three different stages of life (as a young boy, a young adult and middle-aged), in each case reminiscing about the past relationship. This is shown during the line "A little voice inside my head said don't look back, you can never look back" at which point, each of the three people look back in turn. The young boy in the video, played by seven year old Josh Paul,[10] resembles a young Don Henley. The girl in the music video is played by Audie England.

The cutaways of the "boys" jumping in the air appear to have been influenced by the 1938 film Olympia.[citation needed] Interspersed with these scenes are segments of Henley miming the words of the song while driving in a convertible. At its conclusion, the video uses the post-modern concept of exposing its own workings, as with a wry expression Henley drives the car away from a rear projection screen.

The video won the Video of the Year at the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards (leading Henley to comment at the Awards the following year that he had won for "riding around in the back of a pickup").[11] It also won that year's awards for Best Direction, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography. The Best Direction award was presented to Mondino by Henley's then-former Eagles bandmate Glenn Frey.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1984-85) Peak
Canada (RPM) 15
Germany (Media Control Charts)[12] 18
Ireland (IRMA)[13] 7
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[14] 26
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[15] 18
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[16] 12
US Billboard Hot 100[17] 5
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[17] 1
Chart (1998) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[13] 23
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[18] 12
Chart (2009) Peak
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[19] 16
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[20] 35

Codeseven version[edit]

Codeseven's album A Sense of Coalition (1998) gained popularity on college radio stations for a cover of "The Boys of Summer" (not to be confused with The Ataris' cover of the same song that became a mainstream radio hit years later).

DJ Sammy version[edit]

"The Boys of Summer"
Single by DJ Sammy featuring Loona
from the album Heaven
Released November 18, 2002
Recorded 2001
Genre Trance, dance
Length 4:55
Label Robbins/Ministry of Sound/Data
Writer(s) Don Henley, Mike Campbell
DJ Sammy featuring Loona singles chronology
"The Boys of Summer"
"Rise Again"
Audio sample
file info · help

In 2002, Spanish trance artist DJ Sammy (with vocals performed by Loona) covered the song. It was released in November 2002 as the third and last single released from the album Heaven. The song reached number one in Scotland. Despite not receiving the same critical acclaim as Henley's version, this cover peaked at number 2 in the United Kingdom - ten spots higher than the original in that country. It was certificated Platinum by RIANZ.[21]

Music video[edit]

The music video was filmed in Valencia, Spain and was released in November 2002.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Boys Of Summer" (Original Radio Edit) - 3:58
  2. "Boys Of Summer" (Original Extended) - 6:33
  3. "Boys Of Summer" (Green Court Remix) - 8:08
  4. "Appalachian Fall" - 4:54

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2002-03) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[22] 9
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[23] 49
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[24] 20
Germany (Media Control Charts)[25] 25
Ireland (IRMA)[13] 15
New Zealand (RIANZ)[26] 3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[27] 19
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[28] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[29] 36
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[30] 2
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[31] 5

The Ataris version[edit]

"The Boys of Summer"
Single by The Ataris
from the album So Long, Astoria
Released September 8, 2003
Recorded 2002
Genre Pop punk
Length 4:20
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Don Henley, Mike Campbell
The Ataris singles chronology
"In This Diary"
"The Boys of Summer"
"The Saddest Song"
Audio sample
file info · help

In 2003, the rock band The Ataris covered "The Boys of Summer" for their album So Long, Astoria. The song became their second single when a radio station began to play it. The Ataris' version of the song replaced the 'Deadhead sticker' reference with one more appropriate to the age group of their fans, namely a 'Black Flag sticker', in honor of the '80s punk band. The single peaked at #2 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart (held off the #1 top spot by Linkin Park's Faint) and #20 on the Billboard Hot 100. It remains their most successful single to date.[32]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Steven Murashige and was released in July 2003.[33]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2003) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[34] 24
Germany (Media Control Charts)[35] 45
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[36] 17
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[37] 87
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[38] 49
US Billboard Hot 100[32] 20
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[32] 36
US Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks[32] 2
US Billboard Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks[32] 18
US Billboard Top 40 Mainstream[32] 10

Other versions[edit]


  1. ^ Puterbaugh, Parke (January 31, 1985). "Don Henley: Building The Perfect Beast". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 13, 2008. ...a wistful look over the shoulder at a faded summer romance.  |chapter= ignored (help)[dead link]
  2. ^ Gilmore, Mikal (November 5 – December 10, 1987). "Henley Interview 1987". Rolling Stone 512 (20th Anniversary Issue). Archived from the original on 2008-10-10. Retrieved September 9, 2008. Beyond that, I'm also not convinced we really accomplished all that much. Kennedy was president and everybody thought it was Camelot, but look at what we did. We raised all that hell in the Sixties, and then what did we come up with in the Seventies? Nixon and Reagan. The country reverted right back into the hands it was in before. I don't think we changed a damn thing, frankly. That's what the last verse of 'The Boys of Summer' was about. I think our intentions were good, but the way we went about it was ridiculous. We thought we could change things by protesting and making firebombs and growing our hair long and wearing funny clothes. But we didn't follow through. After all our marching and shouting and screaming didn't work, we withdrew and became yuppies and got into the 'Me' Decade. 
  3. ^ "A father now, Don Henley has matured—as has his music". July 3, 2000. Retrieved September 13, 2008. As a solo artist, Henley offered bittersweet commentary on aging - on what happens when those carefree rebels grow up - in such songs as 'Boys of Summer' and 'The End of the Innocence.'  |chapter= ignored (help)
  4. ^ Varkentine, Ben (May 23, 2000). "Don Henley: Inside Job". PopMatters. Retrieved September 13, 2008. Don Henley is the cynical man's cynical man. 
  5. ^ R. Cooke (February 23, 1985). NME.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Toby Cresswell (2005). Rockwiz 1001 Songs. SBS. 
  7. ^ Bledsoe, Wayne (October 4, 2012). "Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo made a match in rock-hit heaven". Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Grammy Awards 1986". February 25, 1986. Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  9. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott; Schreiber, Ryan, eds. (November 2008). The Pitchfork 500. Simon & Schuster. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-4165-6202-3. 
  10. ^ "The Band". The Chris Daughtry Fanlisting. September 8, 2008. Retrieved September 8, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Don Henley's stand-up performance takes top honor among MTV awards". The Dallas Morning News. Associated Press. September 15, 1985. Retrieved October 30, 2008. Don Henley, whose video Boys of Summer won the top honor at the MTV Video Music Awards, says he did little more during the making of the piece than stand in the rear of a pickup truck that was driven around Los Angeles. 
  12. ^ "Chartverfolgung / Henley, Don / Single". (in German). Phononet Gmbh. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c " search results for "Boys of Summer"". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - 2 Maart 1985/Week 9 (Dutch)". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  15. ^ " – Don Henley – The Boys of Summer". Top 40 Singles.
  16. ^ "Chart Stats - Don Henley - The Boys Of Summer". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  17. ^ a b "allmusic ((( Don Henley > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Retrieved April 19, 2009 (2009-04-19).  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  18. ^ "Chart Stats - Don Henley - The Boys Of Summer {1998}". Retrieved April 19, 2009 (2009-04-19).  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  19. ^ [1][dead link]
  20. ^ "Sverigetopplistan". Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  21. ^ Hung, Steffen. "DJ Sammy - Boys Of Summer". Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  22. ^ " - DJ Sammy - Boys Of Summer". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  23. ^ "DJ Sammy - Boys Of Summer - (German)". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  24. ^ " - DJ Sammy - Boys Of Summer (Dutch)". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  25. ^ " – DJ Sammy – Boys of Summer". GfK Entertainment.
  26. ^ " - DJ Sammy - Boys Of Summer". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  27. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - 4 Januari 2003/Week 1 (Dutch)". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Archive Chart: 2003-03-08". Scottish Singles Top 40.
  29. ^ " - DJ Sammy - Boys Of Summer". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  30. ^ "Archive Chart: 2003-03-08" UK Singles Chart.
  31. ^ "allmusic ((( DJ Sammy > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Retrieved April 19, 2009 (2009-04-19).  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  32. ^ a b c d e f " - Artist Chart History - The Ataris". Retrieved April 19, 2009 (2009-04-19).  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  33. ^ The Ataris videography
  34. ^ " – The Ataris – The Boys of Summer". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  35. ^ "Chartverfulgong > The Ataris > The Boys of Summer –" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  36. ^ " – The Ataris – The Boys of Summer". Top 40 Singles.
  37. ^ " – The Ataris – The Boys of Summer". Swiss Singles Chart.
  38. ^ "Chart Stats - The Ataris - The Boys Of Summer". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  39. ^ [2][dead link]

External links[edit]