Today in The Music of New Coke, Don Henley’s “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” from Building the Perfect Beast which peaked at #9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 shortly after New Coke’s debut.

Unfortunately suffering from far too much 80’s keyboard schlock, (not to mention as seen in the video, keytars; the guitar/keyboard hybrid which were extremely popular during the New Coke era), Henley’s disco condemnation of people ignoring strife in favor of dancing and fun is probably his least sincere single from the album.  Even the Adult Contemporary hit, “Not Enough Love In the World” has more heart and soul than the much maligned lyric, “Molotov cocktail the local drink.”

(Which, it should be noted, I thought was a real drink and not a bottle of flaming gasoline so in my mind it was a cool the girl was checking out bars with Molotov cocktails.  Again, I was only through about 1/3 of my life during the time of New Coke and Grand Theft Auto hadn’t been invented yet to show me what a Molotov cocktail was, so you can understand my confusion.)

As weak as “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” may be musically, its themes of US imperialism and excess were not a completely unfair indictment of the New Coke Era.  Even though Iran-Contra wouldn’t break for another year after the release of New Coke, whenever the scandal is mentioned today I almost always hear this single in my head, the synapses in my brain wired at a young age to think of arms deals benefiting Nicaraguan rebels and keytars together. 

(Ed. Note: I had a chance to meet and talk with — and buy Visine for! — Don Henley while he was on a book tour supporting Heaven Is Under Our Feet: A Book for Walden Woods, while I was still in high school.  He really is a rock star, faded Eagles reunions and all.)

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