The End Of The Innocence

Don Henley

Geffen Records, 1989

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When I listen to a CD, I want a pleasant musical experience, not a lecture on human nature. I really wish that Don henley would realize this and get off his soapbox.

It's been a long time since I listened to his solo debut I Can't Stand Still, but he was up there back in 1982, mocking the media with "Dirty Laundry". (Too bad he didn't wait until the Jerry Springer-era of ooze we dare to call programming.) Building The Perfect Beast wasn't as preachy, but was just as pretentious.

In 1989, Henley was now pretentious, preachy, pompous and, worst of all, boring. The End Of The Innocence would have ended up packed away deep in the Pierce Archives were it not for two songs that make the trip somewhat worth it.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The title track, featuring Bruce Hornsby on keyboards, has lost little of its fire after almost a decade. It's not as rocky as I might have liked it, but it still provides lots of enjoyment every time I listen to it. And, although it is a bit preachy (and I've never been able to follow the advice Henley gives about letting go of anger against someone who's wronged you), "The Heart Of The Matter" remains undoubtedly his prettiest and most poignant moment as a solo artist. I have yet to grow tired of this particular song.

Too bad that's all on the album that's worth wasting time on. For the remainder of The End Of The Innocence, Henley is nothing more than a windbag with a stage to get his message across. "New York Minute" is about as interesting as watching C-SPAN; the tempo drags on and on, kind of like the Carpenters on Valium. Another single off the album, "The Last Worthless Evening," shows no originality at all, falling into the boredom trap.

And preachy? Geez, if I wanted to be taught a lesson, I'd go back to living with my parents! From "How Bad Do You Want It?" to "Little Tin God" to "If Dirt Were Dollars," Henley spurts his spiel ineffectively, serving only to anger the listener. (Song title begging for me to slam-dunk it: "I Will Not Go Quietly." You provide your own insult here.)

In a sense, I think Henley got confused; he must have thought he was a folk musician. If I wanted a lesson, I'd listen to Phil Ochs or The Kingston Trio - they might have preached, but at least they were interesting to listen to.

Is it really worth sludging through The End Of The Innocence for only two songs? Well, the songs are at the start and the end of the album, so you really don't have to wade through muck too much. But these two songs do partially redeem the whole listening experience, even if they don't support the rest of the album (as well they shouldn't have to).

The End Of The Innocence might be considered Henley's masterpiece, but if it weren't for two very special songs, this album would be worth next to nothing.

Rating: D

User Rating: B+



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Geffen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.