Musical Notes — Don Henley
Voiceover by Lawrence Standifer Stevens / Written by Joseph E. Casanova
After rocking with the Eagles for nearly five decades, superstar Don Henley crosses musical genres with his first country album entitled Cass County, a tribute to his Texas hometown.
Henley’s foray into country music isn’t that much of a stretch, considering he sang lead on Best on My Love and Desperado.
Both tracks would fit perfectly on a radio format playing current hit-makers Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan.
Cass County marks the rocker’s first solo effort in 15 years and includes the opening single, a duet with vocal powerhouse Martina McBride called That Old Flame.
The collection also features collaborations with Dolly Parton on When I Stop Dreaming and Merle Haggard on The Cost of Living.
Even Rolling Stone Mick Jagger lent his talents to Bramble Rose. If Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler can score a country hit, why can’t Jagger?
Henley was born in Gilmer and later grew up in Linden in northeast Texas. Listening to Cass County sparked memories of my childhood in Atascosa County, about 45 minutes south of San Antonio.
Things were different growing up in a small town, especially with friends and cousins living in the same neighborhood.
We went to each other’s houses after breakfast and then came home long enough for lunch.
The summers didn’t seem as hot as they are now. The temperatures didn’t bother us. We just wanted to hang out and have fun.
After dinner, we’d make the most of the daylight and a bunch of us would gather at the empty lot behind my cousin’s house for a big game of either baseball or kickball.
We could walk to town which was only a few miles away. Our families knew everyone. We felt safe.
Nowadays, driving through those old streets, I only find remnants of a previous existence. The townspeople I used to know have been replaced with strangers only passing through.
With the oil boom, new hotels almost outnumber the abandoned buildings of our once thriving hamlet.
Don Henley once sang about the end of the innocence. I think this was it.