“Don Henley and the Myth of Success Vs. Struggle, and American Romance”

*”I got two words for Don Henley, JOE FU**ING WALSH!”

– A particularly edifying Dennis Leary

“Turn dirt to dollars like Don Henley”

– Doom

“Aw, come on, man! I’ve had a long day and I hate the fu**ing Eagles!” 

– The Dude, The Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski


Granted, I haven’t really been keeping up on this whole thing, this American romance stuff. I mean on TV. But if a pop culture icon who’s indelibly perfect for the American mold of alpha male victory makes a sound in the middle of the forest, is he still a massive tool?

Don Henley wrote, and sang, great songs. The rest, arguably, gets a little hazy.
Well, the first thing you think when you hear a dude unrequitedly professing his love for someone on the microphone is, that you want him to shut up. We all want to hear the underdogs all the time, the Joe Walsh’s, singing about being trapped in the city, or escaping reality through substances. But has it ever occurred to you that maybe this too, is an act?
The Eagles were based in LA, obviously, (giving “The Dude’s” spiel an extra warmth, per se, making us feel extra warm inside), but Don Henley originally hails from Denton, in the north of Texas. Whereas Walsh sings of wanting to escape from the city. Walsh is the general favorite among men… that is, he’s men’s favorite to ADMIT to liking. He’s the favorite among men who hang out in groups of other men, who probably need what essentially amounts to a nihilistic abandon, a nice substitute for meaning, when you’re trapped in a situation against your will.
Don Henley is the star quarterback, the chemist getting a full ride to Harvard. But wait. Ironically, there was a Don Henley is this flick, in 1971, Cry Blood, Apache (a very fu**ed up movie), and all the while, there was this dude sitting straight laced and talking loud, searingly handsome, and I just figured, well that must be Don Henley. It turns out it was a different Henley altogether, and the Eagles singer in real life actually just looks like a regular dude, like a Tom Petty or something.
I mention this to prove a point of perception versus reality. There’s a perception of Henley having lived this probably pampered Hollywood life (I’ll admit, the thought of him doing movies jibed with me internally, though apparently come to find out he hasn’t), and seeing things just fall into his lap. I mean, it couldn’t be that the stuff in songs like “Boys of Summer” and “The End of the Innocence” is the actual gristle of someone’s scorched heart, could it? Don’t ask “The Dude,” I doubt we’ll get a straight answer.
Addenda: Ted Shred
You want pure California, just look up Ted Shred. He certainly as well fits the bill of Californians being smarter than the rest of the nation, because his music isn’t even available online, and when he does shows in Boulder, Colorado, it’s a pretty good turnout. San Francisco biking stuntman and musician, he makes mashups for the crowded streets, using fellow west coasters like Credence’s “Bad Moon Rising” and Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” among other like Ted Leo & The Pharmacists’ “The Anglels’ Share,” which albeit doesn’t come out to quite the results.

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