Bob Dylan’s Surprising Tribute To Don Henley You Probably Didn’t Notice

During his music career spanning over 60 years, Bob Dylan has become a popular cultural icon with songs featuring social and political references. Dylan’s career began long before the Eagles’ formation, but they crossed paths in the country-rock scene. Although the musician had never really expressed interest in the band’s music before, he performed ‘The End Of Innocence,’ written by Don Henley and Bruce Hornsby, nine times during his 2002 tour.

‘The End Of Innocence’ includes lyrics that refer to political and social issues, which might be why it appealed to Bob Dylan. As it later turned out, Dylan listened to the Eagles and had even picked his favorite songs from the band’s catalog, such as ‘New Kid in Town,’ ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ and ‘Pretty Maids All in a Row.’ He also urged his fans to listen to their music in one of his songs.

Titled ‘Murder Most Foul,’ the song appears as the tenth and final track of Bob Dylan’s 2020 ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ album. In the lyrics, Dylan addressed the assassination of John F. Kennedy using America’s political and cultural history. An interesting fact about ‘Murder Most Foul’ is that it’s 16 minutes and 56 seconds long, making it the longest work Dylan has released. However, the most interesting part of the song is that the singer alludes to the Eagles’ ‘Take It To The Limit.’

Toward the end of ‘Murder Most Foul,’ Bob Dylan calls out to Don Henley and Glenn Frey in the lines ‘Play Don Henley – play Glenn Frey / Take it to the limit and let it go by.’ ‘Take it to the limit’ refers to the Eagles song by the same name, written by Henley, Frey, and Randy Meisner and released in the 1975 album ‘One Of These Nights.’

Apart from Don Henley and Glen Frey, Bob Dylan referred to other artists as well, like the Beatles, Charlie Parker, Guitar Slim, Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Little Walter, Carl Wilson, Queen, and others. Following its release, ‘Murder Most Foul’ received great attention and commentary for its metaphors and references.

Bob Dylan started his professional music career during John F. Kennedy’s administration, and looking through the song’s lyrics; his assassination had significantly impacted him. However, some believed ‘Murder Most Foul’ had a cathartic effect on collective trauma and the ability to provide comfort during those times.

So, by referring to 74 songs in his lyrics, Bob Dylan used ‘Murder Most Foul’ to explore and discuss a historical event that greatly impacted America’s social, cultural, and political state. Moreover, it’s noteworthy that Dylan included Don Henley and Glenn Frey in this work of genius.