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Flashback Video: 'The Boys of Summer' by Don Henley

Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another.

This issue we will cover "The Boys of Summer" by Don Henley. It was released in October of 1984 as the lead single from Henley's second solo album Building the Perfect Beast. "The Boys of Summer" would peak at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February of 1985. It remains one of my favorite songs from that year. Henley won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the song n 1986.

The music video for "The Boys of Summer" was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, a French graphic designer/photographer who had previously only made a couple French music videos. An executive at Geffen Records had seen his video for the song "Cargo de Nuit" by a French singer named Axel Bauer and convinced Henley to go with him. He definitely created something different than what else was on MTV at the time. After that, Mondino went on to direct more U.S. videos with Madonna's "Open Your Heart" in 1986 as the most prominent. Shot in black-and-white, "The Boys of Summer" shows the main character of the song at three different stages of life (as a young boy, a young adult and middle-aged) each reminiscing about a past relationship. Interspersed with these scenes are segments of a close-up of Henley singing the words of the song while riding in a pickup truck. Henley would later comment that Mondino and his crew made "Southern California look like the South of France." Here is the music video for "The Boys of Summer" by Don Henley...

The video for "The Boys of Summer" was the big winner at the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards, just the second year the VMAs were held. It won for Video of the Year as well as Best Director, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography. I can understand Cinematography, but never really thought this video deserved the top award. Even Henley himself was a little surprised winning the award for just "riding around in the back of a pickup". Other music videos that lost out to "The Boys of Summer" that year included David Lee Roth "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody", Tina Turner "What's Love Got to Do With It", Glenn Frey "Smuggler's Blues", Madonna "Material Girl", USA for Africa "We Are the World", Huey Lewis & the News "If This Is It" and Tom Petty "Don't Come Around Here No More" among others.

MTV exposure from "The Boys of Summer" music video raised Don Henley's profile but cost him a degree of anonymity. Henley usually shied away from too much attention. Even with the Eagles, he was often tucked away behind a drum kit, and rarely on TV. Only one video was made for his first solo album ("Johnny Can't Read") and that was rarely played on MTV. After "The Boys of Summer" got in heavy rotation, Henley became much more recognizable and this reportedly often made him uncomfortable. I guess that is the downside to rock stardom.

Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!



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