Dirty Laundry (Don Henley song)

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For other uses, see Dirty Laundry (disambiguation).
"Dirty Laundry"
Single by Don Henley
from the album I Can't Stand Still
B-side "Lilah"
Released October 12, 1982 (Debuted on the charts the week ending October 30)
Format 7" (45 rpm)
Recorded 1982
Genre Rock, hard rock, electronic rock
Length 5:36
Label Asylum
Writer(s) Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar
Producer(s) Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar & Greg Ladanyi[1]
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Don Henley singles chronology
"Johnny Can't Read"
"Dirty Laundry"
"I Can't Stand Still"
Music 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 four 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 one million records in the US.[2]


The song is about the callousness (and callowness) 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.[3] A line in the second verse, "Is the head dead yet?", actually comes from journalism lingo, and refers to the major headline story being ready to post or print. If a head is dead, it has already been set and is being printed or created, and it is now too late to make changes to the story.[citation needed]

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 composing this song.[3] The late 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]

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 also used in the 2004 documentary Outfoxed as well as in the shorts for the 1995 movie To Die For.[citation needed] The song was performed on the Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden tour in 2008. 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]

Chart performance[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered live by The Eagles from 1995 to the band's end.

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 #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. ^
  7. ^ a b

External links[edit]