Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Johnny Can't Read" by Don Henley

Song#:  1151
Date:  08/21/1982
Debut:  80
Peak:  42
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Post-Eagle solo careers were in full swing for Randy Meisner and Glenn Frey. Next to join them was Henley. Having already hit the pop chart in a duet with Stevie Nicks ("Leather and Lace," #6), it came time to try it solo. Henley recorded his debut album "I Can't Stand Still" and released this first single. It didn't fully catch on peaking just outside the Top 40 and only reaching #29 on the Mainstream Rock chart. It wasn't a great start, but his next single would make up for it.

ReduxReview:  Henley really moves away from Eagles territory with this Farfisa-driven tune with a 60s flare. I have to be honest - I've never heard this song. As unreal as that sounds, except for "Dirty Laundry," I ignored Henley's debut album and this single was nowhere to be found on pop radio in my area. I remember being intrigued by the song's title and almost buying the single based on that, but I didn't. Now I'm glad I didn't as I really don't like this song. It's kind of annoying and it does not fit Henley at all. To me, it plays like a bad new wave experiment. And I think Henley later realized it doesn't fit well in his catalog as it has never appeared on any of his compilations. It's weird and odd - and not in a good way.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Henley was an avid reader and often used what he learned when writing lyrics. In this song, Henley comments on illiteracy, the education system, and the fact that kids were no longer reading thanks to more and more distractions. Oddly, it kind of foreshadowed where we are today with things like iPhones, apps, games, etc. occupying kids' time.  2) At the very end of the song, Henley sing "there's a new kid in town." This is in reference to the Eagles 1976 #1 song "New Kid in Town," which Henley co-wrote. The lyrics in that song are "Johnny come lately, the new kid in town."


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