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JIM ‘PAPPY’ MOORE: Don Henley – America’s Poet Laureate

By Jim “Pappy” Moore


While Don Henley was born in Gilmer, Texas, he lived his entire boyhood in nearby Linden, Texas, where he graduated from Linden-Kildare High School in the mid-1960s. Within ten years of graduating, everyone in America knew who Don Henley was.


Henley and Glenn Frey created the one and only band Eagles in 1971, after years of breaking into the business by working hard. Eagles exploded in 1972 with “Take it Easy” (co-written with Jackson Browne), a song whose lyrics have been memorialized by a statue in downtown Winslow, Arizona. “It’s a girl, My Lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.” I’ve been there and paid homage. Stopped off on a road trip to Las Vegas.

The much-loved and dearly departed Glenn Frey would combine with Henley to write some of America’s most poignant lyrics. No poet ever wrote any more powerful lyrics. Later, after Eagles split up, Henley and Frey both became successful solo artists, during which time Henley wrote some of his most compelling lyrics. 


Henley wrote “Dirty Laundry,” which forty years ago nailed it when discussing the way so much of modern media cannot wait to attack anyone in the public eye, often employing failed actors and actresses who “just have to look good, I don’t have to be clear.” 


Henley wrote light-hearted lyrics which remain fun to hear and fun to sing along with. His tune about a trip to a war-torn region in Central America was such a song. “All She Wants to Do is Dance.” So much fun, and so much truth. Just listen to it next time you have a chance.


Henley writes songs from the heart, pouring out his deepest emotions. One such song that I can relate to contains the lyric 


“I got the call today, I didn’t wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you found someone”


Man, that hits a guy right in the gut. His lyrics go on to end the song with a strong conclusion about moving on from a failed relationship: 


“So I’m thinking about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me any more”


Wow, that reaches inside you and grabs you by the heart. Son, you have to make yourself move on and make peace with it.


As we embrace a new year, we should take heed of Henley’s poetry. There are simply too many great songs he has written and sung to discuss them all in one column. Maybe I’ll revisit them in a later column. In the meantime, listening to Don Henley sing Don Henley’s lyrics is a great way to learn important life lessons. 


The End of Innocence
by Don Henley


“Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standin’ by
But “happily ever after” fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers dwell on small details
Since daddy had to fly

“But I know a place where we can go
That’s still untouched by men
We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass waves in the wind
You can lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence”


Copyright 2022, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved. Use of Mr. Henley’s lyrics to demonstrate his excellence in creating them.


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