Henley’s “A Month of Sundays?

I have a habit of loading single songs into my iTune‘s shopping cart and not downloading them until I have the equivalent of at least one album. Today I downloaded a New Age album by Deuter, Buddha Nature, and four songs apparently added right after my last buying binge, “Dream a Little Dream of Me? by Big Crosby, and three songs from Don Henley’s Building the Perfect Beast, including this one, which I have no memory of ever hearing or choosing:


I used to work for Harvester
I used to use my hands
I used to make the tractors and the
combines that plowed and harvested this great land
Now I see my handiwork on the block everywhere I turn
And I see the clouds cross the weathered
faces and I watch the harvest burn

I quit the plant in ’57
Had some time for farmin’ then
Banks back then was lendin’ money
The banker was the farmer’s friend
And I’ve seen dog days and dusty days;
Late spring snow and early fall sleet;
I’ve held the leather reins in my hands
and I’ve felt the soft ground under my feet
Between the hot, dry weather and the taxes
and the Cold War it’s been hard to make ends meet
But I always kept the clothes on out backs;
I always put the shoes on our feet

My grandson, he comes home from college
He says, “We get the government we deserve.”
Son-in-law just shakes his head and says,
“That little punk, he never had to serve.”
And I sit here in the shadow of suburbia
and look out across these empty fields
I sit here in earshot of the bypass and all
night I listen to the rushin’ of the wheels

The big boys, they all got computers:
got incorporated, too
Me, I just know how to raise things
That was all I ever knew
Now, it all comes down to numbers
Now I’m glad that I have quit
Folks these days just don’t do nothin’
simply for the love of it

I went into town on the Fourth of July
Watched ’em parade past the Union Jack
Watched ’em break out the brass and beat on the drum
One step forward and two steps back
And I saw a sign on Easy Street,
said “Be Prepared to Stop.”
Pray for the Independent, little man
I don’t see next year’s crop
And I sit here on the back porch in the
And I hear the crickets hum
I sit and watch the lightning in the distance
but the showers never come
I sit here and listen to the wind blow
I sit here and rub my hands
I it here and listen to the clock strike,
and I wonder when I’ll see my
companion again

I’m a believer in synchronicity, so I wonder if reading Berry’s Another Turn of the Crank subconsciously convinced me to download the song. It’s not the kind of song I’d usually buy, though it reminds me of Springsteen‘s Nebraska, a personal favorite.

If you were making a documentary film based on Berry’s book, you’d be hard pressed to find a better soundtrack than this, particularly the lines “Folks these days just don’t do nothin’/simply for the love of it.? Though it’s implied rather than stated in Henley’s song, there’s a sense of collusion between the government and the “big boys? who “got computers? to drive the small farmer out of business.

3 thoughts on “Henley’s “A Month of Sundays?”

  1. Saw Henley sing this on one of the broadcasts of Willie’s FARM AID concerts. Worked then too.

    Ted Kooser’s prose book on the Bohemian Alps in Nebraska creates a sense of concern for the land in an indirect way. A fast and enjoyable read.

  2. I’ve loved this song for a long time, even though I was but a young teenager when I first heard it. Being an extreme Henleyist, I believe this song is more about the plight of the farmer. His last line, “I wonder when I’ll see my companion again” correlates with a line from TEOTI “give me just one last kiss before we say goodbye”. Don henley also sings a song called “Damn it Rose” in his “Inside Job” album. I wonder if Don lost someone very close to him to death and still feels it.

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