The End of the Innocence (song)

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"The End of the Innocence"
Single by Don Henley
from the album The End of the Innocence
ReleasedJune 6, 1989
Songwriter(s)Don Henley
Bruce Hornsby
Producer(s)Don Henley
Bruce Hornsby
Don Henley singles chronology
"Sunset Grill"
"The End of the Innocence"
"I Will Not Go Quietly"
Audio sample

"The End of the Innocence" is the lead single and title track from Don Henley's third solo studio album of the same name, released in 1989. Henley co-wrote and co-produced the song with Bruce Hornsby, who also performed piano; both artists perform the song live in their respective concerts. Henley's version peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his fifth solo top ten hit on the chart. "The End of the Innocence" also became his fourth number-one single on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and peaked at number two on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart.[1] The song features Wayne Shorter on saxophone.

Background and content[edit]

Henley's lyrics take the form of a personal remembrance of a close friend or companion, and evoke a powerful sense of nostalgia for the lost innocence of childhood. The music was written by Bruce Hornsby years earlier. Henley was driving back from Hornsby's ranch in Moorpark when he found out that a friend had been indicted for securities fraud---at the time the government was going after Michael Milken, thus the references to having to call the lawyers "because Daddy had to lie." The "place where we can go" refers to his 50-acre ranch outside Aspen, Colorado off Woody Creek Rd. The reflections and the emotional responses represent the end of the innocence of the baby boomers, which for some was coupled with a perception of nihilism, consumerism, and militarism during the Reagan administration. Even as they yearn for the simplicity and values of the past and the uncorrupted people they used to be, the song sees them coming to terms with the responsibilities and challenges facing Americans entering middle-age in the 1980s.

Music video[edit]

The black and white music video for the song was directed by future film director David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club) and earned Henley an MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video in 1990.

There are two political comments in the video. At the line "armchair warriors often fail," it shows a TV set showing scenes of the congressional testimony of Oliver North. At the line "they're beating plowshares into swords, for the tired old man that we elected king," it shows a series of posters of President Ronald Reagan. After Reagan had left office, Bruce Hornsby began singing his version with the line "for the tired old man that is no longer king."

Also in the video, there are shots of Henley singing in front of the Texas School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. To Henley, this is where the "end of the innocence" can be found. A portion of the video was also filmed in the town of Waxahachie, Texas, just south of Dallas at the historic Rogers Hotel, where Bonnie and Clyde stayed and where the movies Places in the Heart and Tender Mercies were filmed.

Chart performance[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 114.
  2. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 51, No. 8, December 23, 1989". RPM. December 23, 1999. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved November 22, 2017.