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Thread: Driving With Your Eyes Closed

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    Default Driving With Your Eyes Closed

    Hello I'm aware from interviews Don Henley doesn't like explaining in thorough detail the meaning of his songs; especially in regards to 'Hotel California'.

    However I've been attempting to locate any old audio and/or print interviews with Henley discussing the meaning behind 'Driving With Your Eyes Closed'.

    I anticipated Henley's old 'In The Studio with Redbeard' interview would provide me answers, but that wasn't the case.

    So far, I've come up with nothing.

    I also typed the song title on here, but it's a timely process to wade through the results of whether my answer will appear.

    I also learned from the 'Building The Perfect Beast' credits on discogs.com that Stan Lynch wrote the song.

    I wasn't sure whether this forum has questions posted about this topic or if it's forbidden.

    I'd like to find out what the song means but don't require a lengthy explanation. A synopsis is good enough for me.

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: Driving With Your Eyes Closed

    Quote Originally Posted by RushFanForever View Post
    Hello I'm aware from interviews Don Henley doesn't like explaining in thorough detail the meaning of his songs; especially in regards to 'Hotel California'.

    However I've been attempting to locate any old audio and/or print interviews with Henley discussing the meaning behind 'Driving With Your Eyes Closed'.

    I anticipated Henley's old 'In The Studio with Redbeard' interview would provide me answers, but that wasn't the case.

    So far, I've come up with nothing.

    I also typed the song title on here, but it's a timely process to wade through the results of whether my answer will appear.

    I also learned from the 'Building The Perfect Beast' credits on discogs.com that Stan Lynch wrote the song.

    I wasn't sure whether this forum has questions posted about this topic or if it's forbidden.

    I'd like to find out what the song means but don't require a lengthy explanation. A synopsis is good enough for me.

    Thank you.
    It's perfectly fine to post such questions in here, but all I can offer is speculation, as I haven't read anything about it. If someone else has, they can of course let us know.

    It was actually written by Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar, and Stan Lynch, not just Lynch.

    For those unfamiliar with the lyrics who want to take a stab:
    I met a Frenchman in a field last night
    He was out there with an easel, painting carnival light
    He said, "I used to paint the princess; I used the paint the frogs
    Now I paint mustaches on dangerous dogs"

    He said, "Sometimes it's a country; sometimes it's a girl
    You know, everybody got to have a purpose in this world
    You Yankees are so silly about matters of the heart
    Don't you know that women are the only works of art


    And you're drivin' with your eyes closed
    You're drivin' with your eyes closed
    You're drivin' with your eyes closed
    And you're gonna hit somethin'
    But that's the way it goes"


    Some guys were born to Rimbaud
    Some guys breathe Baudelaire
    Some guys just got to go and put their rockets everywhere
    You can breed 'em by the thousands
    You can trick and you can train
    Just look at all those poor dogs that are dragged down by the Seine

    How many arrows must I shoot into the blue?
    Ah, you little maniac, I'm crazy over you
    Before The Death of Lovers and The Punishment of Pride
    Let's go scrape across the terrazzo
    It's just too hot outside


    "You're drivin' with your eyes closed
    You're drivin' with your eyes closed
    You're drivin' with your eyes closed
    And you're gonna hit somethin'
    But that's the way it goes"


    Talk talk, talk and talk
    Talk talk, sweet talk
    Talk talk, tough talk
    Talk talk, dirty talk
    Talk talk, walk and talk
    Talk talk, big talk
    Talk talk, baby talk
    Kiss kiss kiss
    Talk talk, talk and talk
    Talk talk, smooth talk
    Talk talk, body talk
    Talk talk, back talk
    Talk talk, small talk
    Talk talk, baby talk
    Talk talk, peace talk
    Talk talk, bullshit



    My theory:

    The overall idea, taken from the title line and the chorus, is about pretentious people who are going through life without any meaningful direction or purpose, and that they're bound to hurt themselves and others.

    The Frenchman used to be someone who did traditionally acceptable work (the traditional legend of the princess who kissed the frog, which then turned into a prince), but now he only paints absurdities. It seems to be a fall from grace and yet he is presented as a sage to whom we should listen (he, after all, is the one who originates the chorus), so perhaps he represents someone who does his own thing no matter what other people think.

    The Frenchman emphasizes the importance of purpose; his statement about women being the only works of art is perhaps ironic as Don certainly creates art about more than women, but this is an album that has a lot of focus on romantic relationships with the exception of the title track and arguably this one ("Month of Sundays" was relegated to a B-side originally). It does, however, make an argument against pretension, because the pretentious artist believes that art about love is beneath him. Perhaps this might even be a justification of BTPB's thematic bent. Using a Frenchman to decry pretension is effective, I think, because they are stereotyped as arrogant and elitist in the United States and elsewhere.

    The second verse starts out saying "some guys were born to Rimbaud." I think, from the tone of the song, we can take this as mockery of these types. As brittanica.com states, Arthur Rimbaud's poems "won renown in the Symbolist movement and markedly influenced modern poetry." His work certainly has merit, but citing him is also a favorite activity of pretentious types. However, Don might also be referring to him as a type of person who squanders his promise because of his inability to stay focused on a meaningful purpose. Rimbaud abruptly stopped writing at 21 to go traveling and live a rather wild lifestyle. He died almost twenty years later without doing anything else of note.

    "Some guys breathe Baudelaire." Rimbaud was influenced by another French poet, Baudelaire. While most famous for Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), he also wrote Petits poèmes en prose (Little Prose Poems) which was more experimental and highly influential as well. Baudelaire was an accomplished writer of criticism and other prose works, but I get the feeling Don is ribbing those who go around quoting his poetry all the time and fancying themselves quite sophisticated.

    As for the "guys who have to go and put their rockets everywhere," my most straightforward interpretation is that they are the type of self-important, obnoxious people who feel they have to make a lot of noise and leave an "impression" everywhere they go, even if it's negative and destructive. There's not any purpose to their actions other than attention-seeking and arrogance. It could also be a subtle reference to Rimbaud's failed arms dealings overseas, but I doubt it.

    Going back to the dog metaphor, it isn't unusual to refer to people who aren't very impressive as dogs, and I think Don is doing so here. The irony is that these are "artists" who think quite highly of themselves; some of them may be born into it, some of them may be trained, but they can still wind up dragged down by their attitude to their doom (the Seine is a river in France).

    The next verse seems to shift to the singer addressing his lover. He's telling her all of this, but he doesn't think it's doing any good. Shooting arrows into the sky is futile; like a person, an arrow should be aimed and have a purpose. This speech isn't going anywhere, apparently. He ironically cites Baudelaire's "Death of Lovers" himself next to Whitman's "Punishment of Pride" , and decides to just give up and go inside. (Note: Whitman was highly influenced by Transcendentalism, Don's favorite poetic movement.)

    What I'm a little unclear on is whether he's trying to get his little "maniac" to be less pretentious and purposeless and he's given up, or he's whether he's self-aware about the fact that he's pretentious and purposeless, but he's stopped caring and is going to take his mind off of it with his "maniac."

    But regardless, in the end it's all talking, some kissing, some more talking... BS.

    Any thoughts, especially about whether he's talking about himself or the girl at the end? Or both? Or neither because I'm completely off-base?

    Always in our hearts, Never forgotten

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