Dirty Laundry (Don Henley song)

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"Dirty Laundry"
Don HenleyDirtyLaundry45.jpg
Single by Don Henley
from the album I Can't Stand Still
ReleasedOctober 12, 1982
Format7-inch 45 rpm
Length5:36 (album)
4:39 (edit)
Don Henley singles chronology
"Johnny Can't Read"
"Dirty Laundry"
"I Can't Stand Still"
Audio sample

"Dirty Laundry" is a hit song written by Don Henley and Danny Kortchmar, from Henley's Gold-plus debut solo album I Can't Stand Still, released in 1982. The song hit #1 on the Billboard Top Album Tracks chart in October 1982, prior to being issued as a 45. Lyrically, the song describes mass media sensationalism and yellow journalism.

Released as the second single from I Can't Stand Still, it spent three weeks at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1983. The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, representing sales of over 500,000 records in the US.[2]


The song is about the callousness of TV news reporting as well as the tabloidization of all news. Henley sings from the standpoint of a news anchorman who "could have been an actor, but I wound up here", and thus is not a real journalist. The song's theme is that TV news coverage focuses too much on negative and sensationalist news; in particular, deaths, disasters, and scandals, with little regard to the consequences or for what is important ("We all know that crap is king"). The song was inspired by the intrusive press coverage surrounding the deaths of John Belushi and Natalie Wood, and Henley's own arrest in 1980 when he was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of marijuana, cocaine, and Quaaludes after paramedics treated a 16-year-old girl who subsequently died suffering from drug intoxication at his Los Angeles home.[3]

Among the musicians on the record were Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh, two of Henley's Eagles bandmates. Walsh performs the first guitar solo, followed by Steve Lukather of the band Toto; the guitar basic tracks are played by Danny Kortchmar who also helped Henley compose this song.[3] Jeff Porcaro (also of Toto) plays the drums on this track.[citation needed] The sleeve notes also mention these musicians: George Gruel, Roger Linn and Steve Porcaro.[4]

Eagles performances[edit]

During the 1994 reformation of Eagles, Glenn Frey suggested that the entire band perform this and other solo hits of Henley's, stating that he liked them and despite differences the band had had over the years, they admired Henley's solo work. During the performances of Frey and Henley's solo songs, Eagles' touring drummer Scott F. Crago, handles most of the drumming duties.

In the Eagles' Farewell 1 Tour-Live from Melbourne concert DVD, Henley (speaking for the band) dedicated this song "to Mr. Rupert Murdoch"; in many live performances, this dedication remains, but sometimes is changed "to Mr. Bill O'Reilly".[citation needed] The song was performed on the Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden tour in 2008-2012 as well as the band's History of the Eagles tour. During the song, a background video shows, among other things, clips from The O'Reilly Factor, Glenn Beck, and The Jerry Springer Show.[citation needed]

Other appearances[edit]

The song was also used in the 2004 documentary Outfoxed as well as in the shorts for the 1995 movie To Die For.[citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

"Dirty Laundry"
Single by Nickelback
ReleasedAugust 19, 2016 (2016-08-19)
Nickelback singles chronology
"Get 'Em Up"
"Dirty Laundry"
"Feed the Machine"

Lisa Marie Presley released a cover version of the song in 2005. It was the first single released from her album Now What, and reached No. 36 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Presley also shot a music video, which featured a cameo appearance by George Michael.

Robin Meade (who is a morning news anchor herself for HLN) covered the song on her 2011 album Brand New Day.

Nickelback covered the song and released it as a single August 19, 2016.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sleeve notes to Dirty Laundry in Actual Miles CD of 1995.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 282.
  3. ^ a b "Dirty Laundry by Don Henley Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  4. ^ Sleeve notes to Dirty Laundry in the Actual Miles CD of 1995.
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2015-12-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2017-03-27.
  8. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-26. Retrieved 2015-07-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]