Song Lyric Sunday | “The End of the Innocence” – Don Henley

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

This week’s theme is  Different/Same.


 The lead single and title track from Don Henley’s third solo studio album of the same name, The End of the Innocence was 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.

Henley waxes poetic near the end of the song when he sings no matter how far we go or how fast we get there, we all have somewhere back there in the dust that same small town in each of us.

The official black and white music video for the song was directed by future film director David Fincher (Alien 3, Seven, Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and earned Henley an MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video in 1990.


  • In the song lyrics, “this tired old man that we elected king” is a reference to US president Ronald Reagan. There are a lot of political overtones in the song, as Henley strongly opposed Reagan’s agenda. “Armchair warriors often fail” is a reference to former U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North during the Iran-Contra Affair.
  • Co-writer Bruce Hornsby had a US #1 hit with The Way It Is in 1986.
  • When the Eagles broke up in 1980, Joe Walsh and Glenn Frey also launched solo careers. They all did fairly well, but Henley was the most successful. The Eagles re-formed in 1994 for their Hell Freezes Over tour.

Don Henley turned 73-years-old last week and currently lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife, Sharon, and their three children.

Everyone knows how the Eagles felt about YouTube, especially Henley, and their videos are far and few between, but I did find a live Henley performance of The End of the Innocence.


See my Song Lyric Sunday selection for


Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

The End of the Innocence

Compiled from Genius Lyrics, Google, Wikipedia,, and YouTube.

15 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday | “The End of the Innocence” – Don Henley

  1. The Eagles can do no wrong by me, especially Don Henley. Love this song so much. I didn’t know it was a reference to Reagan. Great line … could apply today!
    I lived in Dallas for a long time and rumor was that Don Henley attended UNT and their mascot was an eagle and that’s where the name for the band came from. Maybe true, maybe not. Fun factoid 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Still untouched by man”, who is known to take away innocence. I see this song as being an anthem for the environment as well as being political, because they are deeply entwined. Great choice Felicia, I could listen to this song every day.

    Liked by 1 person

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