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"
ReleasedOctober 26, 1984 (1984-10-26)
Recorded1984
GenreRock
Length4:48
LabelGeffen
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Don Henley singles chronology
"I Can't Stand Still"
(1983)
"The Boys of Summer"
(1984)
"All She Wants to Do Is Dance"
(1985)
Audio
"The Boys of Summer" on YouTube

"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 Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

The lead single from Henley's album Building the Perfect Beast, "The Boys of Summer" was released on October 26, 1984.[1] It reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US, number one on the Billboard Top Rock Tracks chart, and number 12 in the UK Singles Chart.

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

Writing[edit]

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell wrote a demo for "The Boys of Summer" while experimenting with a LinnDrum drum machine. He showed it to Tom Petty, but they felt it did not fit with the record they were working on, Southern Accents. At the suggestion of producer Jimmy Iovine, Campbell played it for Don Henley, who wrote the lyrics and recorded the vocal. They rerecorded the song after Henley decided to change the key.[2]

Composition[edit]

The song is cemented by a repetitive guitar riff. The song was recorded in the key of F major with a tempo of 88 beats per minute. Henley's vocals span F3 to A4.[3][4]

The lyrics appear to be about the passing of youth and entering middle age, with the nostalgic theme of "summer love"[5] and reminiscence of a past relationship.[6] In a 1987 interview with Rolling Stone, Henley explained that the song is about aging and questioning the past[7]—a recurring theme in Henley's lyrics (cf. "The End of the Innocence",[8] and "Taking You Home".[9]) In an interview with NME in 1985, Henley explained the '"Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac" lyric as an example of his generation selling out.[10][11]

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!

Accolades[edit]

"The Boys of Summer" reached No. 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 No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart. A re-release of the single in 1998 also reached No. 12.

In 1986, Henley won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the song.[12] "The Boys of Summer" was ranked No. 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."[13]

Tom Petty was astounded by the track's success. One day, he and Campbell were out on a car drive to listen to a mix of their song "Don't Come Around Here No More", but turned on the ignition and heard "The Boys of Summer". At that moment, Campbell changed the station in case the song would upset Petty, but Petty enjoyed listening to it and regretted initially turning it down.[14]

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 a past relationship. Interspersed with these scenes are segments of Henley singing the words of the song while riding in a pickup truck. The young boy in the video is played by a seven-year-old Josh Paul,[15] while the girl is played by Audie England. Interspersed with these scenes are segments of Henley articulating 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").[16] 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.

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

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
Released2002 (2002)
Length4:55
LabelPulp, Urban, Data
Songwriter(s)Don Henley, Mike Campbell
Producer(s)DJ Sammy, Martin Eyerer, Oliver Laib
DJ Sammy singles chronology
"Sunlight"
(2002)
"The Boys of Summer"
(2002)
"Rise Again"
(2004)

In 2002, Spanish trance artist DJ Sammy (with vocals performed by Dutch singer Loona) covered the song. It was released in 2002 as the third and last single released from the album Heaven. This cover peaked at number two in the United Kingdom and was one of New Zealand's most successful hits of in 2002, reaching number three and earning a Gold certification from Recorded Music NZ (RMNZ). The cover also reached number nine in Australia and the top 20 in Flanders, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

Music video[edit]

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

Track listing[edit]

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

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[55] Gold 35,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[56] Gold 5,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[57] Silver 200,000double-dagger

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
New Zealand 2002 (2002) CD Central Station [43]
Australia October 21, 2002 (2002-10-21) [58]
Europe November 18, 2002 (2002-11-18)
[37]
United Kingdom February 24, 2003 (2003-02-24)
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette
Data [59]

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
ReleasedSeptember 8, 2003
Recorded2002
Genre
Length4:20
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)Don Henley, Mike Campbell
The Ataris singles chronology
"In This Diary"
(2003)
"The Boys of Summer"
(2003)
"The Saddest Song"
(2003)

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 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.[60]

Mike Campbell later claimed that he liked the Ataris cover, stating that "it's not a song you expect a young band like that to do, but I kind of like their version of it."[61]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Steven Murashige and was released in July 2003.[62]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2003-2004) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[63] 24
Germany (Official German Charts)[64] 45
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[65] 17
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[66] 87
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[67] 49
US Billboard Hot 100[60] 20
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[60] 36
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[68] 2
US Billboard Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks[60] 18
US Billboard Top 40 Mainstream[60] 10

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[69] Gold 500,000*

* Sales figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Public Catalog". www.copyright.gov. U.S. Copyright Office. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  2. ^ "Mike Campbell". Songfacts. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  3. ^ "Key & BPM for The Boys Of Summer by Don Henley | Tunebat". tunebat.com. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  4. ^ Henley, Don (February 11, 2013). "Don Henley "The Boys of Summer" Sheet Music in E Minor (transposable) - Download & Print". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  5. ^ "Top 21 Songs About Nostalgia". Consequence of Sound. September 3, 2018. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Gilmore, Mikal (December 10, 1987). "Henley Interview 1987". Rolling Stone. 512 (20th Anniversary Issue). Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. 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.
  8. ^ "A father now, Don Henley has matured—as has his music". CNN.com. 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.'
  9. ^ Varkentine, Ben (May 23, 2000). "Don Henley: Inside Job". PopMatters. Retrieved September 13, 2008. Don Henley is the cynical man's cynical man.
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External links[edit]