Writer(s): Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar (see lyrics here)
First Charted: September 11, 1982
Peak: 3 US, 5 CB, 5 RR, 13 AR, 59 UK, 11 CN, 51 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 28.99 video, 41.48 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
While “Dirty Laundry” was not Don Henley’s first solo outing, it is probably the one most people associate with the beginning of his post-Eagles career. After a decade with the Eagles and fronting #1 hits like “Hotel California,” “One of the These Nights,” and “Best of My Love,” Henley had first ventured out of the Eagles’ spotlight as Stevie Nicks’ duet partner on the top-10 hit “Leather and Lace.” He then had a minor solo hit (#42 on the Billboard Hot 100) with the new-wavish “Johnny Can’t Read,” the first single from his 1982 I Can’t Stand Still solo album.
The second single, however, crawled its way up to #3 on the pop charts and reached the pinnacle on the album rock chart. “Dirty Laundry” removed any doubt that Henley could survive without his Eagles’ bandmates. He also made it clear he could craft a song with something to say that was also as catchy as hell. The song lambasted mass media sensationalism from the point of view of a jaded TV news anchor. It was inspired by the tabloid coverage of celebrity deaths such as John Belushi and Natalie Wood as well as Henley’s 1980 arrest for drug possession and delinquency of a minor. WK Interestingly, many local news stations have acknowledged the “superficial and vapid product they create” SF by using the song for blooper reels “tucked away in the dark corners of newsrooms.” SF
Henley hadn’t completely severed ties with the Eagles as Joe Waslh performed the first guitar solo and Timothy B. Schmit also appeared on the record playing bass and performing backing vocals. The song also featured three members of the band Toto – Steve Lukather playing the second guitar solo, Steve Porcaro on keyboards, and Jeff Porcaro on drums. Danny Kortchmar, who co-wrote the song and had previously played on albums by James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne, also contributes guitar.
On a personal note, the song was an early favorite of mine when I started doing my own weekly chart, beginning on September 18, 1982. By year’s end, the song hit #1 for me, dethroning Toto’s “Africa,” which had debuted in the pole position six weeks earlier.
First posted 6/30/2022; last updated 10/28/2022.
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