"The End Of The Innocence" as written by Bruce Hornsby and Don Henley....
Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn't have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standing by

When happily ever after fails
And we've been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers dwell on small details
Since daddy had to fly

But I know a place where we can go
Still untouched by man
We'll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind

You can lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end

This is the end of the innocence
O' beautiful, for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening
They're beating plowshares into swords

For this tired old man that we elected king
Armchair warriors often fail
And we've been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers clean up all details

Since daddy had to lie
But I know a place where we can go
And wash away this sin
We'll sit and watch the clouds roll by

And the tall grass wave in the wind
Just lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair spill all around me
Offer up your best defense

But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence
Who knows how long this will last
Now we've come so far, so fast

But, somewhere back there in the dust
That same small town in each of us
I need to remember this
So baby give me just one kiss

And let me take a long last look
Before we say good bye
Just lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me

Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

"The End of the Innocence" as written by Don Henley Bruce Hornsby

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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The End of the Innocence song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentWell, of course you can all have your theories about virginity and stuff, but oh man, I'm pretty sure that's not what Don Henley had in mind when he wrote it...if you haven't noticed, Mr. Henley is a very very politically and socially conscious activist.

    The song is about the Reagan era and the Iran-Contra Affair (Even the video for the song shows pictures of Reagan and Oliver North).

    The first verse is about the Innocence of America - the fairy tale America that we all live in, where things are perfect and picturesque, small town goodness and sweetness, the innocence of the American childhood, the American Dream.

    But that innocent picture is an illusion, shattered by the lies and misdealings of the leaders of our country. The lawyers had to "clean up all the details" of Oliver North and Reagan's misdealings, which smeared and tarnished America...

    "Oh beautiful, for spacious skies" (America the Beautiful)
    But now those skies are threatning - (This has nothing nothing to do with a woman's virginity)

    "They're beating plowshares into swords, for this Tired Old Man that we elected King" - Who makes up our soldiers? People from innocent small town America, the farmers, the mid-westerners...the Tired Old Man is Reagan

    And the last verse is a beautiful homage to regret, how we have to leave behind our Innocence and say goodbye to it, but that American Dream, that Innocence will always be in our hearts...

    Please trust me on this analysis - I first heard this song as a 9 year old girl visiting Texas - this song is my most favourite song in the whole wide world - I've spent the past 17 years thinking about this beautiful song...when I die, they'll be playing it at my funeral ;)

    I get a kick out of it too, because now I'm a lawyer ;)
    sthampion March 31, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song is made up of three major parts, connected by the theme of a place that's still pure and untainted by the harsh realities of the world (more likely than not, it's less of a real place than a theme used to underline the childlike innocence that disappears as we get older). The narrator can take the person he's singing to there, and they can lie there together in happiness... but it's just an illusion, and no matter what they do, they'll eventually have to accept that they'll have to deal with the real world.

    The first verse symbolizes the happy dream of a family, with a loving childhood and parents who stay together forever -- but "happily ever after fails" and the family falls apart, since "daddy had to fly." The narrator reflects that they've been "poisoned by these fairy tales" because it led them to believe that things would always be perfect, and the "lawyers dwell on small details" coldly, without regard for the happiness that should have been.

    In the second verse, the theme of innocence is shifted to the USA -- "O Beautiful, for spacious skies" evoking "America the Beautiful" -- but in the course of the Reagan Administration ("The tired old man we elected King") that goes wrong, and suddenly there are scandals, and harsh stances against the Soviets that seem to invite conflict. Once again, the illusion of America as the bastion of righteousness evaporates, and the "lawyers clean up all details" in the aftermath of the scandals, since "Daddy" (Reagan again) acted un-Presidential and "had to lie."

    The third and final verse takes the loss of innocence to a more personal level, as the narrator reflects back on his time with the girl he loves. They are both on the cusp of adulthood, having "come so far so fast." Though they share the "same small town in each of us" from their past, he realizes that their lives will take them along separate paths, so he wants to share one last pure, innocent moment with her ("I need to remember this"), "before we say goodbye."

    And so, childhood ideals, sincere patriotism, and pure first love give way to the harsh realities of the adult world.
    SaiyaJedion March 26, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBruce Hornsby co-wrote it,you can actually hear it-other then Don Henley singing,it sounds like a Bruce Hornsby song.
    emuInAmuumuuon March 15, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI really love this song. This song is really sad, or at least it is to me, because I can relate to it so much. I remember when "the days were long and rolled beneath a deep blue sky", but then as you get older you realize that "happily ever after fails" and life isn't as great as you used to think it was.
    joe123321on November 20, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm not sure about the virginity thing.. it can't be about lost childhood and virginity because then we're talking about a child character losing his virginity. I don't think it's about divorce either. I mean it could be, but it seems more apt to be a political statement. In that case, "daddy" and "the lawyers" would represent our president and the lawyers our government, which is made mostly of lawyers. The video for this song showed a picture of Ronald Reagen when "... for this tired old man that we elected king" played, so I really think it's a political statement about the world losing the innocence that it once had. "The lawyers clean up all details, cause daddy had to lie." The Reagen/Bush/Bush administrations kept going forward with dishonest and misleading policies, and their aides or political friends would hide their mistakes. When I hear the above line now, I think that "daddy" refers to George W. Bush who has lied to our country about reasons of going to war, but the conservative media and his political cronies (the lawyers) "clean it up" by misleading us into believing it's about moral values that they themselves don't even believe.

    However that said, the early line, "with mommy and daddy standing by", that COULD be an actual mom & dad, representing our parents and teachers and friends who sheltered us from the hardships and lies of real life, but now the end of innocence is here and they can't protect us anymore ("since daddy had to fly").

    But that's just my two cents.
    kupo75on January 22, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTHERE IS SIMPLE PROOF THAT THIS IS ABOUT REAGAN: Bruce Hornsby changed the lyrics when he sang the song after Janauary 20, 1989 to "to the tired old man that is no longer king".

    That said, I've never seen the video so it being about Iran Contra is different than my interpretation. I've always seen it and figured it out to be about the plight of the farmer under the policies of Reaganomics.

    Remember when the days were long
    And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
    ---farmers working their long days out in the fields

    Didn't have a care in the world
    With mommy and daddy standin' by
    ---family farms

    But "happily ever after" fails
    And we've been poisoned by these fairy tales
    ---failure of the American dream

    The lawyers dwell on small details
    ---eviction, etc.

    Since daddy had to fly
    ---leave the farm for work

    But I know a place where we can go
    That's still untouched by men
    We'll sit and watch the clouds roll by
    And the tall grass wave in the wind
    ---wanting to go back to the way things were before Reagan

    You can lay your head back on the ground
    And let your hair fall all around me
    ---this is really not sexual; it is just lying down on the farm thinking about
    how things used to be


    Offer up your best defense
    ---talking to Reagan about what happened on the farms

    But this is the end
    This is the end of the innocence
    ---loss of American innocence, especially on the farms

    O' beautiful, for spacious skies
    ---Well, this one is hard. Just kidding. The U.S.

    But now those skies are threatening
    ---Threatening the American dream.

    They're beating plowshares into swords
    ---No funding to farms but high defense spending

    For this tired old man that we elected king
    ---Um, Reagan

    Armchair warriors often fail
    ---Reagan and Reaganomics

    And we've been poisoned by these fairy tales
    ---The American Dream

    The lawyers clean up all details
    ---Coverups like Iran-Contra (FYI, I’m taking this from an email I sent, so I guess I lied when I said that I never thought about Iran-Contra in this song)

    Since daddy had to lie
    ---Um, Reagan

    But I know a place where we can go
    And wash away this sin
    ---Reagan's policy
    We'll sit and watch the clouds roll by
    And the tall grass wave in the wind
    ---Back to how it was

    Just lay your head back on the ground
    And let your hair spill all around me
    ---Remembering about what had happened; I think spill has to do with
    Exxon-Valdez, but I don't remember whether this was released before or after
    the accident (both were in 1989).

    Offer up your best defense
    ---Talking to Reagan

    But this is the end
    This is the end of the innocence
    ---Farmer's innocence

    Who knows how long this will last
    ---depression/recession for farmers, etc.

    Now we've come so far, so fast
    ---moving away and starting life elsewhere

    But, somewhere back there in the dust
    That same small town in each of us
    ---where they had their farm

    I need to remember this
    So baby give me just one kiss
    ---he is not talking about his wife; he is talking about his past; nothing is as
    memorable as a kiss (except a funeral, maybe).

    And let me take a long last look
    Before we say goodbye
    ---wanting to be back farming, wanting to look back and see his life again

    Just lay your head back on the ground
    And let your hair fall all around me
    Offer up your best defense
    But this is the end
    This is the end of the innocence
    ---need I explain this again
    ebowtheletteron March 04, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentActually I see that "Tired old King" as Reagan. This was written around 1988/9 and the Reagan era was closing as was "Iran-Contra." Oliver North lies to Congress and is convicted but his freed on a technicality. The America Henley knew from childhood was gone from Nixon to Reagan.
    Hatzon September 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is about how life is different as a child then as a adult when youre a kid your worries are simple a few examples does the girl i like like me back, will i get the video game i wanted for christmas but as a adult it becomes how many hours do i got to work today how will i explain this to my kids and since daddy had to lie means your parents have to lie to you to cover things up and as adult nothing can be covered up
    joe walsh ruleson June 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"I am in no way stating that my explanation represents Bryan Adams' true feelings on the subject; but rather my own personal interpretation of the lyrics. "

    What about Don Henley's feelings on the subject?
    Grengoron September 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song reminds me of The Wonder Years. He's looking back on childhood as an adult and lamenting on how much things have changed in life. He believes that if he could be with that special someone that makes him feel complete, that everything will be all right, regardless of how crappy the outside world is. I think it's stupid that he antagonized Reagan, but that's what the "tired old man" part was about. I love Don Henley's music, but hate his politics. I love this song too, but I choose to reappropriate the parts he originally intended for Reagan to King Obama. Obama's the real one who's screwing up the country now with his Communist policies, along with his Marxist shills like Rahm Emanuel and all of his "Czars." I feel like the America I'm living in now is the same Communist Russia that Ronald Reagan helped to abolish.... and I do feel like that if I can be with the girl I love, that things will be all right, despite how stressful and awful the world is today.
    speed114on August 31, 2009   Link

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