Friday, March 25, 2011

I Can Do Better Than That, Don Henley

Way back in 1985, in the song "The Boys of Summer," Don Henley famously sang the line "Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac."  And it was supposed to make Baby Boomers feel all mopey and introspective (as if they needed help) because Cadillacs were driven by old people and Deadheads spent all their money on mushrooms and couldn't afford Cadlillacs, stickers, or Don Henley records.  Symbolically speaking, the line was the first recorded use of the phrase "Back in my day..." by the 60s generation.

Of course, within a few years, Led Zeppelin was shilling for Cadlillac, precisely to appeal to idealistic former flower children who had decided that money and conservative politics are ideals, too, kind of.  Also, the clear subtext is that, if John Paul Jones had had the 6.2L supercharged V8 engine and roomy cargo space of the CTS-V station wagon, maybe he could have gotten John Bonham to the hospital before he choked to death on his own vomit.  We'll never know, but Cadlillac stands ready to help prevent similar occurrences in your gated community.

The point is, a good many Cadlillac owners today surely appreciate the music of the Grateful Dead and regularly lie about having followed them around the Midwest in 1973.  The Don Henley line therefore has lost much of its self-absorbed emotional punch.  Even the 2003 remake of "The Boys of Summer" by the Ataris, which updated the reference to "a Black Flag sticker," doesn't really work, because said Black Flag fan was probably driving the Cadillac ironically, or was Henry Rollins' driver.

If I were going to record my own version of "The Boys of Summer," it would sound strange because Henley was singing to a chick.  But beyond that, I would need to change the "Deadhead sticker on a Cadlillac line" to something more personally meaningful.  Here are some examples:

"On the radio today, my local oldies station played a Madonna track."

"At the mall today, I saw a Tupac tattoo on a grandpa's back."

"Out on the road today, I heard Brittany Murphy died of a heart attack."

"Surfing the web today, I read that Green Day had become a Broadway act."

"On the TV today, I saw Dr. Dre in a soft drink ad."

"Watching the news today, I saw that Bono had surgery for his aching back."

"On TMZ today, I saw the kid from 'Full House' messed up on meth and crack."

"On my Facebook wall, I saw a Metallica 'like'...and it was from my dad."

I could go on and on, but I'm getting extremely depressed.  Not by all the bittersweet cultural references, but by the fact that I'm going to have "The Boys of Summer" in my head all damn day.  I need to listen to something more recent.  I hear there's a pretty cool Cadillac commercial...

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