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

Oh, 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 waves 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 they've been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers clean up all details
Since daddy had to lie

Oh, but I know a place where we can go
And wash away this sin
We'll sit and watch the clouds roll by
The tall grass waves 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 Lyrics as written by Don Henley Bruce Hornsby

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The End of the Innocence song meanings
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  • +8
    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
  • +5
    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 April 01, 2005   Link
  • +4
    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
  • +2
    General CommentOMG...I love this song. It's about how things aren't always going to be the same forever...and you just have to live with it, however it turns out to be. Great song. "Offer up your best defense, but this is the end, this is the end of the innocence."
    zacsteron March 20, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentMy favorite line in this song is "Offer up you best defence" It infers that the taking of innocence is not wholly consensual making it somewhat bitter.
    KangarooCryon January 02, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFirst verse is the child's perspecticve, second verse Is while it could be construed as political it's the father's perspective hes either in the military or high end buisness or involved in politics where he feels he has a higher duty than his personal happiness though he reflexs on his and the womans happest moments. The saxophone is pure emotion of beauty and sadness, third is a more personal realistic verse on the father's perspective in regards to the woman he loves and knowing there's no fixing it or returning to what they once were but he loves her and wants literally just a last kiss and a last night of love one last time to recapture their selves at their best moments a last night of being in love. Before the forever goodbye. The song refreshes armchair warriors (divorce attorneys
    achillescubelon May 22, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBruce Hornsby plays the piano on this song-think he cowrote it too but dont hold me to that. If you havn't heard of him (as i seem to be the only one who has) you should get hold of a copy of his cds or something becausehe's very talented and his musics all similar to this song.
    Katherine7486on April 29, 2003   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 21, 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 23, 2005   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 19, 2006   Link

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