14 Best Don Henley Songs

Don Henley’s music captivates with its distinct blend of rock and storytelling. His songs often explore themes of love, regret, and social commentary, leaving listeners both entertained and thoughtful. From his solo hits to his unforgettable work with the Eagles, Henley’s talent shines through each track.

Collaborations with icons like Stevie Nicks and Bruce Hornsby add an extra layer of brilliance to his music. These partnerships highlight his versatility and knack for creating timeless pieces. Henley’s unique voice and lyrical prowess make his songs stand out in the crowded landscape of rock music.

1. The Boys Of Summer – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: The Boys Of Summer
Release Year: 1984
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The Boys of Summer by Don Henley, released in 1984, is a nostalgic anthem that marries rock with a touch of new-wave synth. The track paints vivid imagery of lost youth and fleeting moments, set against the backdrop of summer’s end. Henley’s haunting vocals, combined with a driving beat and atmospheric keyboards, create a poignant sense of longing and reflection.

Its reception was phenomenal, with the song resonating deeply with both critics and fans. It earned Henley a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and cemented his status as a solo artist after his tenure with the Eagles. The Boys of Summer remains an iconic piece, often cited in discussions about the best songs of the 1980s.

2. The End Of The Innocence – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: The End Of The Innocence
Release Year: 1989
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Don Henley’s The End of the Innocence from 1989 blends rock and folk, crafting a wistful atmosphere. Henley’s poignant lyrics reflect on lost youth and societal disillusionment, touching on themes of innocence lost and the harsh realities creeping into adult life. The song’s rich instrumental mix, featuring piano, saxophone, and layered harmonies, enhances its melancholic yet hopeful vibe.

The music video perfectly complements the song’s message, alternating between nostalgic childhood scenes and more troubled adult moments. Its visual narrative underscores the contrast between innocence and experience, leaving a lasting impact. Overall, this song remains a powerful commentary on personal and societal changes.

3. Dirty Laundry – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: Dirty Laundry
Release Year: 1982
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Don Henley’s Dirty Laundry from 1982 is a rock song dripping with biting satire and catchy rhythms. The track skewers the sensationalist tendencies of media, calling out the industry’s proclivity for airing others’ issues rather than focusing on relevant news. Laced with sardonic wit, the lyrics are unforgettable, making listeners hum along while pondering deeper messages.

The production quality stands out with its crisp sound and compelling mix of instruments. A steady drumbeat, sharp keyboard riffs, and interweaving guitar lines create a layered experience. The song’s polished yet gritty production mirrors its critique of polished but often gritty media personalities.

4. All She Wants To Do Is Dance – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: All She Wants To Do Is Dance
Release Year: 1984
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Don Henley’s song All She Wants to Do Is Dance from 1984 takes listeners on a journey through a fusion of rock and synth-pop. It features upbeat rhythms and catchy melodies, making it an instant earworm. The track blends energetic drum beats with groovy bass lines and funky synthesizer riffs, creating a lively and infectious sound.

Live performances of this song are nothing short of dynamic. Henley’s vocals, backed by his band’s vibrant instrumentation, bring the song to life on stage. The audience can’t help but be swept up in the infectious energy, often dancing right along with the beat.

5. The Heart Of The Matter – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: The Heart Of The Matter
Release Year: 1989
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Don Henley’s 1989 hit The Heart of the Matter resonates with a tender, reflective tone. It’s a beautifully crafted piece that delves into the complexities of forgiveness and the painful process of moving on from a broken relationship. With heartfelt lyrics and a soulful melody, the song effortlessly captures the emotional struggles and eventual acceptance that come with love lost.

The production quality of The Heart of the Matter is top-notch, showcasing Henley’s impressive vocal range over a lush arrangement of acoustic guitars, piano, and subtle percussion. The polished sound and intricate layering of instruments create a rich, immersive experience for listeners. It’s no surprise that this song remains a timeless classic, appreciated for its sincerity and impeccable craftsmanship.

6. New York Minute – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: New York Minute
Release Year: 1989
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Don Henley’s New York Minute, released in 1989, captures a poignant and somber mood wrapped in a soft rock genre. The song reflects on the fragility of life and how quickly circumstances can change, painted vividly through Henley’s evocative lyrics. His vocal delivery, paired with warm instrumentation and orchestral touches, creates an atmosphere that’s both melancholic and hopeful.

Unique about New York Minute is its exquisite blend of piano, strings, and a steady drum beat that builds the emotional depth of the piece. The lush arrangement highlights not just Henley’s voice but the intricate layers of the song’s composition. This attention to detail makes it a standout track, resonating deeply with listeners and critics alike.

7. The Last Worthless Evening – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: The Last Worthless Evening
Release Year: 1989
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Don Henley’s 1989 track The Last Worthless Evening is a soulful blend of soft rock and pop, characteristic of his post-Eagles solo work. The song is steeped in rich, emotive lyrics that speak to themes of heartache and the quest for new beginnings, resonating with listeners who’ve faced similar life situations. Henley’s poignant vocals are complemented by smooth guitar melodies and subtle synth layers, creating a deeply atmospheric listening experience.

The impeccable production quality stands out, using a mix of analog warmth and crystal-clear digital sound that was emerging in the late ’80s. Glossier yet intimate, the song showcases Henley’s attention to sonic detail. Fans and critics praised its polished sound, and it remains a staple in his discography.

8. Sunset Grill – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: Sunset Grill
Release Year: 1984
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Don Henley’s 1984 song Sunset Grill captures the melancholy yet hopeful essence of urban life. The track is a reflective piece anchored in the rock genre, with Henley’s signature blend of heartfelt lyrics and evocative storytelling. It paints a vivid picture of a quaint eatery on Sunset Boulevard, serving as a metaphor for moments of quiet reflection amidst the chaos of city living.

The song features an eclectic mix of instruments, weaving together synthesizers, saxophones, and traditional rock elements. This varied arrangement adds depth and texture, creating a soundscape that enhances the song’s introspective mood. The production quality, led by Don Henley and producer Danny Kortchmar, ensures that every instrument shines, providing a polished yet nostalgic sonic experience.

9. Taking You Home – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: Taking You Home
Release Year: 2000
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Taking You Home by Don Henley from 2000 is a heartfelt ballad that tugs at your emotions. It beautifully combines elements of rock and soft pop with Henley’s distinctive vocal delivery. The song is a tender serenade focused on themes of love, commitment, and sanctuary, capturing a sense of longing and reassurance.

The production quality is exceptional, with a lush arrangement that includes strings, gentle percussion, and soulful guitar riffs, creating an intimate atmosphere. Jeff Lynne’s contributions as a producer elevate the overall sound, giving it a polished and warm feeling. The finely-crafted layers of instrumentation complement Henley’s earnest lyrics, making for a memorable listening experience.

10. Not Enough Love In The World – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: Not Enough Love In The World
Release Year: 1984
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Not Enough Love in the World is a poignant ballad by Don Henley from his 1984 album, Building the Perfect Beast. The song captures the somber realization that love is often inadequate in a complex world. Its melody, driven by softly played guitars and Henley’s soulful voice, imparts a deep emotional resonance to the listener.

In the studio, Henley teamed up with producer Danny Kortchmar and other seasoned session musicians. Their expertise shines through in the song’s crisp production quality, ensuring each instrument is distinct yet harmonious. From the reverb in the background vocals to the clarity of the drums, every sound element is meticulously polished, making the track timeless.

11. Johnny Can’t Read – Don Henley

Artist: Don Henley
Track Name: Johnny Can’t Read
Release Year: 1982
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Don Henley’s Johnny Can’t Read from 1982 critiques the American education system. It tells the story of a young boy, Johnny, who struggles with literacy despite modern society’s advancements. The song uses sharp, satirical lyrics to highlight the failures of schools in teaching essential skills.

Set in a rock genre with new wave influences, the sound mirrors the raw energy of the early ’80s. The composition features punchy guitars, steady drum beats, and energetic keyboards, creating a vibrant backdrop for the biting commentary. It’s produced with clarity, spotlighting Henley’s distinctive voice and sharpens the song’s critical edge.

12. Sacrifice – Don Henley, Vince Gill

Artist: Don Henley, Vince Gill
Track Name: Sacrifice
Release Year: 2018
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Don Henley’s and Vince Gill’s 2018 duet Sacrifice blends elements of country and soft rock, creating a harmonious yet poignant melody. The song’s heartfelt lyrics explore the pain and beauty of giving up something valuable for the sake of love. Acoustic guitars and gentle percussion provide a soothing backdrop, while their voices merge seamlessly, delivering an emotional punch.

Fans immediately resonated with the song, lauding it for its sincerity and soulful execution. Critics praised its lyrical depth and strong vocal performances, earning it accolades within the music community. The collaboration between these two iconic artists proved to be both a nostalgic and refreshing experience for listeners.

13. Bramble Rose – Don Henley, Mick Jagger, Miranda Lambert

Artist: Don Henley, Mick Jagger, Miranda Lambert
Track Name: Bramble Rose
Release Year: 2015
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Bramble Rose by Don Henley, Mick Jagger, and Miranda Lambert from 2015 is a hauntingly beautiful ballad. This country-infused track weaves elements of folk and rock with emotive storytelling. The raw, heartfelt lyrics explore themes of love, loss, and resilience, creating a tapestry of vivid imagery.

The song’s production quality stands out with its layered harmonies and rich textures. Acoustic guitars, soulful harmonica, and understated percussion elevate the emotional landscape. Critics praised the collaboration for its artistry, marking it as a memorable highlight in the artists’ careers.

14. The Cost of Living – Don Henley, Merle Haggard

Artist: Don Henley, Merle Haggard
Track Name: The Cost of Living
Release Year: 2015
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The Cost of Living by Don Henley and Merle Haggard, released in 2015, blends the soulful essence of country and rock. The song’s sorrowful harmonies accompanied by acoustic guitars create an atmosphere rich in reminiscence. Henley’s evocative voice melds seamlessly with Haggard’s grizzled tones, crafting a narrative of life’s hardships and perseverance.

Pulled from the heart of its lyrics, the song captures the struggle of maintaining dignity while facing life’s challenges. This exploration of the American working man’s plight is both poignant and relatable. The evocative lyrics, combined with intimate storytelling, give the song a timeless, enduring quality that resonates deeply with listeners.

John Godfrey

John Godfrey is a music fanatic, as well as the owner of Songpier.com which provides music guides. In high school, he learned how to play the drums which inspired him to learn about rock music. He began to write articles for various music magazines and during this period he realized he had a passion for writing music descriptions. He has a Master's degree in music education from the University of Redlands.