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The End of the Innocence
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2000
Don Henley's The End of the Innocence capped off the '80s on a perfect note. With Bruce Hornsby's classy piano sounding like the last, gentle strains of an uneasy age, lead track "The End of the Innocence" features one of the best lyrics ever written on disillusionment...and hope in the face of disillusionment. Henley sounds like he was put on earth to make this majestic song come alive, his singing the best he's ever done, a high croon filled with longing and sadness.
And the rest of the album holds up: "The Heart of the Matter" is a quiet, extraordinary exploration of lost love, moving beyond words; "I Will Not Go Quietly" rips into hard-rock mode; "The Last Worthless Evening" is a brewing ballad with suppressed feelings of desire; and "New York Minute"'s ringing guitars make for a perfect accompaniment to Henley's mournful but hypnotic voice.
This album belongs on every list as one of the best of the 1980s.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2004
Following the breakup of the Eagles, Don Henley would embark on what would slowly become a very successful solo career. In the 1980s, Henley would release three albums. His first effort was 1982's "I Can't Stand Still". This effort would produce a classic tune called "Dirty Laundry" in which Henley poked fun at the "pretty faces" doing the TV news. Two+ years later - in 1984, a more successful follow-up "Building the Perfect Beast" would produce three more singles "All She Wants To Do is Dance", "Sunset Grill", and "The Boys of Summer". "The Boys of Summer" was a mega-hit for Henley that was boosted by an award winning music video. Following "Building the Perfect Beast", Henley would take nearly 5 years to make his next effort. The 5 year effort made by Henley would not disappoint - his 1989 effort entitled "The End of the Innocence" would become his most successful solo effort to date. Each of Don Henley's solo albums would be more successful from both a commercial sales and criticial acclaim standpoint. "The End of the Innocence" marked the peak of Don Henley's solo career and broke him out of the mold of the Eagles and put him on his own two feet.

There are three factors that make "The End of the Innocence" a great album. First, from a songwriting standpoint - Henley and Company do some of his best work. Second, from a production standpoint. Danny Kortchmar was brought in as the a co-producer with Henley for 7 of the 10 songs. Kortchmar had collaborated with Henley on his two previous albums as a songwriter. Kortchmar continues to collaborate with Henley on several tunes, but now moves into the role as the main co-producer. Kortchmar's previous work with Henley makes him a natural fit as he is able to get the most out of Don Henley's talents. Finally, as with his previous studio albums - Henley brings in an all-star lineup of musicians - past, present, and future. This lineup of musicians help augment Henley's talents even more and make this such as great release. The lineup of musicians includes: Bruce Hornsby, Mike Campbell (from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Patty Smyth (Scandal), Axl Rose (Guns N Roses), Jeff Porcaro and David Paich (Toto). The lineup includes three woman who would become big stars in the 90s: Melissa Etheridge, Edie Brickell, and Sheryl Crow.

Bruce Hornsby is co-writer, producer (this is the one of non-Kortchmar produced song), and pianist of "The End of the Innocence". Hornsby's trademark piano playing combined with Henley's vocals make this a classic. The lyrics make a lot of use of metaphors. Although a much different sound than 1984's "The Boys of Summer", the song still has much of the retro-qualities of "Boys of Summer".

"How Bad Do You Want It" is a very underrated tune. It probably is one of the best songs of the album and is co-written by Henley, Kortchmar, and Stan Lynch. There is some great horn work and terrific drum work. Patty Smyth plays a key role with the background vocals that fold in perfectly when needed. Although not as strong a song as "How Bad Do You Want It", the third track "I Will Not Go Quietly" makes good use of background vocals as well. Another Henley and Kortchmar collaboration, this strong uses Axl Rose on background vocals and he goes perfectly with the hard rock edge of this song.

Despite Kortchmar's solid influence, the collection's best track "The Last Worthless Evening" wasn't a Kortchmar collaboration from a songwriting or production standpoint. Mike Campbell and John Corey (Corey and Stan Lynch wrote and produced this with Henley) provide some terrific guitar work. The acoustic sound makes this song special. In this song, Don sings this song to himself about a woman who has broken up with someone and Don feels he can fill the void in the woman's life. The best part of the song is the bridge in the middle of the song that goes "Time Time Ticking...". This song is a classic.

"New York Minute" was written in 1989 by Henley, Kortchmar, and Jai Winding. It is a truly great song that features Toto's Jeff Porcaro on drums and Toto's David Paich on piano. This song has a terrific haunting quality. What nobody would realize is how this song would almost become a soundtrack for the state of New York City following the World Trade Center attack. Lyrics such as "Harry Got Up....Went Down to the Station; And He Never Came Back" and "Lying here in darkness; I hear the Sirens Wail" are examples of this. Paich also contributes piano on "Little Tin God". "Little Tin God" deals with Evangelists and Healers. This best way to describe this song's sound is a folk-like quality applied with a harder Rock edge.

Edie Brickell and Melissa Etheridge contribute background vocals on "Gimme What You Got". Because of Kotchmar's guitar, this song has almost a John Fogerty sound to it - much like you hear on "Centerfield". Sheryl Crow contributes background vocals on "If Dirt Were Dollars". This song also has a Fogerty like quality. Both songs may have a Fogerty sound, but they also explore Fogerty-like topics of materialism and greed.

The collection wraps up with "The Heart of the Matter". This song almost seems like a perfect "wrap-up" like song. Mike Campbell plays guitar and keyboards and is a co-writer and producer with Henley on this track (also Kortchmar co-produces). Don sings about a lost love and he explores to see what went wrong by getting to "The Heart of the Matter". Campbell's work on guitar and keyboards will really be the foundation to this song.

The liner notes of this collection contain the lyrics to all of the songs. The production and songwriting credits are also included. The collection also does a nice job at listing the studio musicians. Overall, this is a solid effort by Don Henley - highly recommended.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2001
"Remember when the days were long and rolled beneath a deep blue sky" ... remember Paradise Lost and the Last Resort? At the end of the 1980s, his awareness of society and what's wrong with it more acute than ever, on his third solo album Don Henley took up the theme of the closing song of the Eagles' classic "Hotel California" even more forcefully than on his two prior releases. Now, however, it was not just "somebody" any longer who "laid the mountains low while the town got high." Now the enemy had a face; he was "the tired old man that we elected king;" that cowboy whose name was Jingo, and who "heard that there was trouble, so in a blaze of glory he rode out of the west - nobody was ever certain what it was that he was sayin' but they loved it when he told them they were better than the rest." ("Little Tin God.")

By the time he published "The End of the Innocence," Don Henley's name was as firmly established as that of a successful solo artist as it had previously come to be known as one of the driving forces behind the Eagles' almost decade-long success. Commercially his most successful album and critically his most acclaimed, his third solo release garnered a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocalist (for the title track) and produced several more hit singles besides "The End of the Innocence:" "The Heart of the Matter," "New York Minute," "How Bad Do You Want It?" and "Last Worthless Evening." Stylistically, the album ranges from ballads like the piano-driven title song (co-written by Bruce Hornsby, whose fingerprints are all over its instrumentation; not just in the keyboards but also in the saxophone solo, performed by Wayne Shorter, and in the song's main theme), "The Last Worthless Evening," and Don Henley's variation on the theme of forgiveness, "The Heart of the Matter" (a song that took him "42 years to write," as he explained during the opening show of the Eagles' "Hell Freezes Over" tour) - all the way to hard-rocking tunes like "I Will Not Go Quietly," featuring background vocals by Axl Rose. In between are the jazzy, introspective "New York Minute," yet another (percussion- and rhythm-driven) warning that the world "ain't no Shangri-La," the deceptively light-footed "Little Tin God," and no less than three hard, edgy songs rounding up Henley's damning verdict on Reaganomics ("How Bad Do You Want It?," "Gimme What You Got" and "If Dirt Were Dollars").

As were his previous solo albums, "The End of the Innocence" was co-produced and largely co-written by Danny Kortchmar, and likewise as on the previous albums, Henley enlisted the cooperation of a number of other outstanding musicians - in addition to Kortchmar, Hornsby, Shorter and Rose, Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Julia and Maxine Waters, Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Stan Lynch, Toto's David Paich and Jeff Porcaro, "inofficial Eagle" J.D. Souther, and many others. Except for his greatest hits album, 1995's "Actual Miles," this was also to be the last record Don Henley would publish on Geffen; a label he did not leave without a fight (which alongside the Eagles' reunion, his marriage and his preoccupation with the Walden Woods Project, he would later list as one of the reasons why he did not produce another new album in all of eleven years).

Henley is well-known to be a perfectionist and is sometimes criticized for allegedly overly "slick" productions; a statement usually going hand in hand with accusations of superficiality and occasionally even hypocrisy (his records did, after all, earn him millions; so how serious can he be about his social criticism?). But it doesn't even take a look at his efforts to preserve the environment (in the Walden Woods Project and elsewhere), his recently formed coalition for artists' rights, and his testimony before Congress on a variety of related topics to doubt the accuracy of that assessment. This guy means every word he writes; just listen to his lyrics - and as long as "we got the bully pulpit and the poisoned pen" and "this brave new world [is] gone bad again" ("If Dirt Were Dollars [we'd all be in the black]"), he'll be around to hold up a mirror before our eyes.

Also recommended:
Don Henley Live - Inside Job
The Eagles - Hell Freezes Over
Selected Works: 1972-1999
Hotel California
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2004
Why do I say that? It's because it encapsulates the decade better than any other did both musically and lyrically. The 80s were, indeed, the end of the innocence for many, many of us. In my case I got married, had kids, got divorced and changed careers at least 4 or 5 times. The music fits every niche and cranny, from the metal edge of "I will not go quietly" to the satire of religion in "Little Tin God" and the failed materialism of "Gimme what you got." All summed up in the overture of the brilliant title cut and ending with the heartbreaking "Heart of the matter." To me there simply is no argument to make. This is the best album of the 80s.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 30, 2007
Forty percent of this CD is really top-notch stuff. "The End of the Innocence," "The Last Worthless Evening," "New York Minute" and "The Heart of the Matter" are as good and poignant as pop rock music gets; no wonder they were released as singles. Don Henley is one heck of a lyricist, and he knows how to write a catchy tune. The title track leads off the album, piano laden, sentimental and beautiful. Like all the aforementioned songs, there's a sadness to the lyrics, in this case the loss of childhood and teenage innocence. "The Last Worthless Evening" is an easygoing Eagles-like ditty that, through its lyrics, perfectly captures the hardships of romance and remaining alone as one grows older. "New York Minute" is even more woeful. It begins with a starry-eyed string section and keyboards, which lead to Henley's grizzled voice singing about suicide, street violence and the precarious shortness of life. The somewhat haunting chorus of "New York Minute" is as beautifully harmonic as it gets, and ultimately, the song ends on a positive note, lyrically. Truly, it's one of the best songs Henley has ever been associated with, and that includes his work with The Eagles.

Henley is also defiant and angry in spots. "How Bad do You Want it?," despite a cheesy sax, overly loud drums, hymnallike background vocals and a dark lingering synth, possesses genuine spirit that is commendable. Meanwhile, it's priceless to hear the thin voice of Axl Rose performing backing vocals on the somewhat forced "I Will Not Go Quietly," a song in which the pseudo-sounding metal bite is less than its valiantly attempted bark.

Besides the gritty "If Dirt Were Dollars," the forced tunes leading up to the album's last track, "The Heart of the Matter," don't do a lot for me. But that's OK -- "Heart of the Matter" contains some of the best breakup lyrics ever written. Henley couldn't have written a better, more astute song, or chosen a more perfect tune to close out the CD.

"The End of the Innocence" may have a touch of radio-ready, late-1980s AOR gloss to it, but the songs are admittedly immediate and memorable. And, as mentioned, the four good songs on this album are better than just good; they're excellent.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
After the Eagles' acrimonious break-up at the beginning of the decade, the individual members couldn't have pursued more different solo careers. Glenn Frey tried his best, but his success came mostly with soundtrack songs like "The Heat Is On" (from BEVERLY HILLS COP) and "You Belong To The City" (from MIAMI VICE). Joe Walsh had already had a considerable career before joining the Eagles as a solo artist and leader of the James Gang. But even his solo career was a bit less than satisfying in the '80s. Don Henley, on the other hand, who was probably the least vocal of the Eagles (at least musically), had only just begun. I CAN'T STAND STILL (1982) was a good start for a solo career, but was immediately overtaken by the sheer flawlessness of BUILDING THE PERFECT BEAST (1984). Dated as it sounds today, it was still an excellent example of Don's cynical look at society of the time. With Reaganomics at their height, Don was probably one of the few people brave enough to claim that all things may look good on the surface, but could cost us dearly in the long run. By 1989, with Reagan gone, and Bush the elder starting out, it was time to look back at our progress and regress of the decade, and ever the unofficial political pundit, Don Henley contributed his viewpoint with END OF THE INNOCENCE. In a decade where pop music was so much geared towards the youth market, a near-middle-age guy like Don Henley having hits was quite an anomaly. But it showed that adult wisdom was still very much appreciated among the din of prefabricated pop music. END OF THE INNOCENCE proved that Don had learned a whole lot more in the 5 years since BEAST. Opening with the immediately recognizable piano chords of Bruce Hornsby, the title track on the surface sounds like end of a love affair. But when you dig deeper, that's only part of the story, for the song has Don claiming that after an age of tax cuts, recessions, and government deregulations, we're facing an uncertain future as to how those things would soon affect us. Some truly wise words for a song that became a top 10 hit in 1989. While BEAST captured the '80s at their materialistic peak, INNOCENCE had Don examining the fallout. Other songs like "How Bad Do You Want It?" (another social commentary masked as a song about a lovers' quarrel), "Shangri-La", "If Dirt Were Dollars" and "Gimme What You Got" further examine the idea that in an age of "free money", we were too busy reaping the benefits while not looking close enough at the side effects. This may be considered a little hypocritical coming from an artist like Don, whose albums always bring him plenty of money. But for a man who's also gotten involved with environmental causes like the Walden Woods Project (which he helped found), perhaps he really is putting his money where his mouth is by calling it a corruptor of society. Not every song on INNOCENCE is social commentary, though. The more personal statements of INSIDE JOB are foreshadowed on the album's other two hits singles "The Last Worthless Evening" and "The Heart Of The Matter". With most love songs not surpassing the old "I love you, I can't live without you" standard, those two songs on INNOCENCE have Don looking at a different side of love that is more honest and adult than what you'd normally hear in constant rotation on the radio. And with many middle-aged artists trying their best to be young and hip, Don wasn't afraid to act his age. After END OF THE INNOCENCE did its time on the charts, Don Henley fell silent for most of the 1990s. But that's not to say he was taking a load off. With the Eagles reunion we thought we'd never see, Don getting married and starting a family, and his record company trying Don's patience, no wonder we wouldn't hear from him until the new millennium. While INSIDE JOB took a long time to appear more because of life itself and not Don's legendary perfectionism, that was actually good. A whole different era would take its time unfolding Don had a chance to put in his two cents about it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2007
For me this album was Henley's high water mark as a solo artist. The album was another huge hit that spawned several big singles and propelled the album well beyond platinum status. This is one disc that deserved the sales in my opinion as every song on it is a winner. Henley's social, religious and political commentary has never been more prevalent, and whether you agree with his points of view or not, the subject matter is always thought provoking. Highlights of the disc include the opening title track which was co-written with Bruce Hornsby. Bruce's signature piano is the main instrument of this tale of lost innocence in the Regan years of the U.S. "I Will Not Go Quietly" is a rocking duet with Axle Rose from Guns And Roses. "The Last Worthless Evening" is a cool ballad that was a big hit. "New York Minute" was another big hit with great lyrics. "Little Tin God" is Henley's reggae-ish take on religion. "If Dirt Were Dollars" is another great lyric and one of the heavier rocking tunes on the disc. The last track "The Heart Of The Matter" is one of those relationship songs that came along at just the right time in my life. This song always brings me back to my turbulent 20's, and relationships gone badly. The lyrics pretty much reflected exactly what I was going through at the time, and it was like Henley got in my head and ripped this right out of my brain. He does this type of song as well as anybody in my opinion. Henley is once again supported by an all star cast of players. The music is never overly adventurous, but fits exactly what Henley was trying to get across in most cases. There are a few weak tracks here "How Bad Do You Want It?", "Shangri-LA", and "Gimmie What You Got" are all ok, but not up to the rest of the disc. Overall though this is a very enjoyable album and the best of Henley's solo career.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2001
Though Sunset Grill is the best Don Henley Song in my opinion, the title track is a darn close second. The piano riff and the great lyrics make it a classic. I like how he switches from acousitc guitar to organs and then electric guitar in his songs. This album contains his best collection of songs of his four solo albums and it is the best produced. It is easily one of the best albums of the eightites becuase of the way Henley encapsulizes the feeling of the late eightites. The withering economy and the realization "of the tired man we elected king" comes full circle. He has beautiful love songs that have a message and unlike his new album, every song is written well and is cohesive to the album as a unit. Henley's voice is his greatest asset and I hope he will revert back to the songwriting displayed here and forget the scholck he wrote for Inside Job.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2000
What can you say about an album like this? Finely crafted, painstakingly original and influential, this should be a part of the 1980s timecapsule. The title track is a masterpiece about the Reagan era and the values it represented. This is the real thing, unlike the revisionism which has been happening in recent times. It is easy to see why Henley won the Grammy for best vocal performance by a male. It should have won song of the year as well. The original 3" CD and vinyl 45 of this song are prized collector's items and if you have them keep them under lock and key. For the rest of us we can keep the dream alive by listening to this CD. It truly is a once in a lifetime event.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2004
Without going off the deep end, this is truly one of the greatest albums ever...definitely one of the top albums of its decade. Henley was able to craft some great songs while lamenting the loss of innocence. He was able to powerfully compare the loss of virginity to the loss of our country's innocence. "Just lay your head back on the ground, And let your hair spill all around me, Offer up your best defense, But this is the end, This is the end of the innocence" is incredibly moving stuff. There are some wise, mature themes and lyrics on this album...one of the most powerful "breakup songs" I think I've ever heard...But I think it's about forgiveness...Forgiveness...Even if, even if you don't love me anymore...
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