In 1980, at Henley's home, a 16 year old girl died of an overdose. He was eventually cleared of wrongdoing but was hounded by press an paparazzi. This song speaks to the sensationalism of television...
I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something-something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry

Well, I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don't have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear
Give us dirty laundry

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em all around

We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blond
Who comes on at five
She can tell you 'bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
It's interesting when people die
Give us dirty laundry

Can we film the operation?
Is the head dead yet?
You know, the boys in the newsroom got a running bet
Get the widow on the set!
We need dirty laundry

You don't really need to find out what's going on
You don't really want to know just how far it's gone
Just leave well enough alone
Eat your dirty laundry

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're stiff
Kick 'em all around

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're stiff
Kick 'em all around

Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry

We can do "The Innuendo"
We can dance and sing
When it's said and done we haven't told you a thing
We all know that Kraft is king
Give us dirty laundry!

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

"Dirty Laundry" as written by Danny Kortchmar Don Henley

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Cass County Music / Wisteria Music / Privet Music

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Dirty Laundry song meanings
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17 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commentthis song is so amazing. It nails the news situation in America perfectly and it came out WHEN??
    The phrase Kick when they are up/ down means.. When someone is a hero.. you do everything to bring them down... when they are down you STILL keep after them you beat them up more and humiliate them more..
    It's pathetic and whats more disgusting is how easy the people (Lemmings) still follow the news and swallow what the news people do...
    CaniusSwisson December 29, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOne of those classic pop songs that just get more relevant and affecting every passing year,what with the world collapsing around us: economies circle the crapper, enviromental disasters of biblical proportions, wars and rumors of & the general feeling of despair no one dares bring up but which seems apparent everywhere you LOOK, etc. etc. ETC.
    Crap still reigns supreme

    I can't think of another tune in fact that so elequently expresses utter disgust with the failure of Fourth Estate & what its been reduced to, a coporate dirge of tabloid trash, celebrity worship & general mind control, contributing leaps & bounds to the de-evolution of the human race. Course, the stink of *rot* is eye-wateringly palpable from all quarters of society, but there is mommy MEDIA, everywhere at once to bring us each single second & angle of eye witness footage just to twist that knife in a little deeper still, fiddling while it all burns. I award Her special position in my heart as being the worst of a deplorable lot, if only for eximplifying the western world's perverse obsession with voyeurism & how it makes spectator-slaves of us all.


    ....Truly guys, we coulnd't do it without you


    Hungryforalynchinon June 14, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAt an obvious level this song is about tabloid journalism and TV news anchors (more accurately called "newsreaders" in the UK).

    At an only slightly less obvious level the song/rant expresses Henley's frustration with music critics, most of whom were very in favor of punk and underground music in the early 80's and viewed Henley, and everybody else from the dinosaur 70's bands, as washed up has-beens.

    Well Don showed them, didn't he? You know, all those mopey hits he scored in the 80's and the 90's -- the Boys of Summer, The Heart of the Matter, The End of the Innocence. Henley certainly showed endurance as a songwriter both with the Eagles and on his own. Any critic who wrote off Henley after the Long Run, well, they just needed to sit back, wait, and see who was going to make it ...... in the long run.
    roaddog73on September 30, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt is so true about the news. It is all trash and gossip. The reporters are pretty and ditsy. There is no real news, just crap and "We all know that Crap is King"
    LAbabeon June 17, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentRight, Thats all this song is about is the worthless tabloids, shit like People Magazine and all that, that love to make someone look bad, and martyr them, just so they can sell that trash. Sad Really.
    gorefiston March 31, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit means taking cheap shots on people...hitting someone when there already down is an insult because they are basically defenseless. In this song it means taking cheap shots on someone in a gossip way when they are not there to defend themself or say their side of the story.
    enjoicocacolaon December 02, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYellow journalism will never die.
    Fluffyinsanityon December 14, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love this song by Don Henley, never knew the meaning till now. It's true the media loves to cover tragedies, because people are sick and twisted and that is what they want to see. If it's too hardcore for you, than watch the damn weather channel.
    Zeusofmusicon July 20, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentScrew being a celebrity when you have a song this good that makes common people understand the darker side of fame. Love the printing press noise!
    bkat004on August 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song came on Sirius the other day and with all this huge news reporting after the tragedy at Virginia Tech I feel this song fits that mold perfectly. These national news channels are looking for ratings and stories not to report on the situation. Its a very sad situation.
    JPiLL902on April 19, 2007   Link

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