The Boys of Summer (song)

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"The Boys of Summer"
Don Henley - Boys of Summer cover.png
Single by Don Henley
from the album Building the Perfect Beast
B-side "A Month of Sundays"
Released 1984 (1984)
Format 7" vinyl
Length 4:47
Label Geffen
Don Henley singles chronology
"I Can't Stand Still"
"The Boys of Summer"
"All She Wants to Do Is Dance"
"I Can't Stand Still"
"The Boys of Summer"
"All She Wants to Do Is Dance"
Audio sample

"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.

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.

Composition and history[edit]

According to Mike Campbell, he wrote the music whilst working on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Southern Accents album: upon hearing it, Petty said that while he liked it, he felt that it wouldn't fit into the album's "flow". Subsequently Jimmy Iovine called Campbell and told him that Henley was looking for material: after asking for Petty's blessing, Campbell gave the song to Henley, who wrote the lyrics.[1][2]

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.[3]

"The Boys of Summer" is written in the key of Eb minor.

In a 1987 interview with Rolling Stone, Henley explained that the song is more about aging and questioning the past[4]—a recurring theme in Henley's lyrics (cf. "The End of the Innocence",[5] and "Taking You Home".[6])

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!"[7][8]

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.[9] Both "Love Is A Battlefield" and "The Boys of Summer" rely heavily on the Linn LM-2 drum machine.


"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.[10]

"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."[11]

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,[12] resembles a young Don Henley. The girl in the music video is played by Audie England.

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").[13] 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]

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".

DJ Sammy version[edit]

"The Boys of Summer"
The Boys of Summer by DJ Sammy featuring Loona.jpg
Standard artwork for most CD releases
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
Songwriter(s) Don Henley, Mike Campbell
DJ Sammy featuring Loona singles chronology
"The Boys of Summer"
"Rise Again"
"The Boys of Summer"
"Rise Again"
Alternative cover art
Artwork for UK 12-inch vinyl release
Artwork for UK 12-inch vinyl release
Audio sample

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. This cover peaked at number 2 in the United Kingdom. It was certificated Platinum by RIANZ.[27]

Music video[edit]

The music video was filmed in València, 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)[28] 9
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[29] 49
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[30] 20
Germany (Official German Charts)[31] 25
Ireland (IRMA)[16] 15
New Zealand (RIANZ)[32] 3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[33] 19
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[34] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[35] 36
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[36] 2
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[37] 5

Year end charts[edit]

Chart (2002) Position
Australia (ARIA) 82[38]
Chart (2003) Position
Australia (ARIA) 69[39]


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[40] Gold 35,000

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

The Ataris version[edit]

"The Boys of Summer"
The Ataris - The Boys of Summer cover.jpg
Artwork for overseas commercial release
Single by The Ataris
from the album So Long, Astoria
Released September 8, 2003
Recorded 2002
Genre Pop punk
Length 4:20
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Don Henley, Mike Campbell
The Ataris singles chronology
"In This Diary"
"The Boys of Summer"
"The Saddest Song"
"In This Diary"
"The Boys of Summer"
"The Saddest Song"
Audio sample

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's 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 punk rock band from the 1980s. The single peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart (held off the No. 1 top spot by Linkin Park's "Faint") and No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. It remains their most successful single to date.[41]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Steven Murashige and was released in July 2003.[42]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2003-2004) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[43] 24
Brazilian Singles Chart (ABPD)[44] 53
Germany (Official German Charts)[45] 45
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[46] 17
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[47] 87
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[48] 49
US Billboard Hot 100[41] 20
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[41] 36
US Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks[41] 2
US Billboard Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks[41] 18
US Billboard Top 40 Mainstream[41] 10


  1. ^ Newton, Steve (14 August 2014). "Meet Mike Campbell, the underrated guitar genius behind all those Tom Petty hits". Retrieved 3 June 2017. 
  2. ^ Sperounes, Sandra (14 June 2010). "Mike and Mojo". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 3 June 2017. 
  3. ^ Puterbaugh, Parke (January 31, 1985). "Don Henley: Building The Perfect Beast". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 24, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2008. ...a wistful look over the shoulder at a faded summer romance. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "A father now, Don Henley has matured—as has his music". July 3, 2000. Archived from the original on February 19, 2009. 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.' 
  6. ^ Varkentine, Ben (May 23, 2000). "Don Henley: Inside Job". PopMatters. Retrieved September 13, 2008. Don Henley is the cynical man's cynical man. 
  7. ^ R. Cooke (February 23, 1985). "Bumper Sticker!". NME. 
  8. ^ Toby Cresswell (2005). Rockwiz 1001 Songs. SBS. 
  9. ^ Bledsoe, Wayne (October 4, 2012). "Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo made a match in rock-hit heaven". Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Grammy Awards 1986". February 25, 1986. Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  11. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott; Schreiber, Ryan, eds. (November 2008). The Pitchfork 500. Simon & Schuster. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-4165-6202-3. 
  12. ^ "The Band". The Chris Daughtry Fanlisting. September 8, 2008. Retrieved September 8, 2008. 
  13. ^ "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. 
  14. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
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  17. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - 2 Maart 1985/Week 9 (Dutch)". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
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  20. ^ a b "Awards". Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  21. ^ "Chart Stats - Don Henley - The Boys Of Summer {1998}". Retrieved 19 April 2009. 
  22. ^ "Suomen virallinen lista". Retrieved July 1, 2009. [dead link]
  23. ^ "Sverigetopplistan". Archived from the original on May 27, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – 1985". Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 April 2017. 
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  27. ^ Hung, Steffen. "DJ Sammy - Boys Of Summer". Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
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  30. ^ " - DJ Sammy - Boys Of Summer (Dutch)". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  31. ^ " – DJ Sammy – Boys of Summer". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  32. ^ " - DJ Sammy - Boys Of Summer". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  33. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - 4 Januari 2003/Week 1 (Dutch)". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  34. ^ "Archive Chart: 2003-03-08". Scottish Singles Top 40.
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  36. ^ "Archive Chart: 2003-03-08" UK Singles Chart.
  37. ^ "allmusic". Retrieved 19 April 2009. 
  38. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2002". January 7, 2003. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  39. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2003". January 7, 2004. Archived from the original on January 23, 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  40. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 7, 2008. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  41. ^ a b c d e f " - Artist Chart History - The Ataris". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  42. ^ The Ataris videography
  43. ^ " – The Ataris – The Boys of Summer". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  44. ^ "Brazil" (PDF). ABPD. October 6, 2001. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  45. ^ " – The Ataris Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  46. ^ " – The Ataris – The Boys of Summer". Top 40 Singles.
  47. ^ " – The Ataris – The Boys of Summer". Swiss Singles Chart.
  48. ^ "Chart Stats - The Ataris - The Boys Of Summer". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 

External links[edit]