Don Henley’s “Workin’ It” Lyrics Meaning

In more recent times, Don Henley looks like your standard matured musician. In other words, looking at him now and especially back when “Workin’ It” was dropped, you’d never know that he was once part of The Eagles, the shaggy rock band from the 1970s that dropped “Hotel California“, one of the unanimously deepest tracks in American music history. 

And let’s just say that it takes a certain type of mentality to not only co-write but also play a song like that. So we know that when Don wants to, he can take it there. And taking it there he does in “Workin’ It”.

“Workin’ It”

First, let’s start off with the titular phrase. Within context, what “working it” actually alludes to is pushing things beyond the limit of safety or logic. And such things being referred to in this song, most simply put, are the materialistic aspects of American society.

For instance, in the first verse, Americans are depicted as “partying fools”, who refuse to cease the revelry even though “we’re running out of everything”. And as further implied by the vocalist, we’re actually addicted to such behaviors. Or put differently, “we’re working it”. The next passage does confirm that what he is speaking to is in fact an idea like products running out due to overconsumption.

American Consumerism

So then by the time the second verse rolls around, it becomes more apparent that the intended purpose of this piece is by and large an attack on American-style materialism. Moreover, though put forth implicitly, Henley criticizes fellow celebrities, i.e. the types who have ‘agents, talk shows, book deals’ and what have you. 

But even those of us who are not as well-to-do can afford some of the other luxuries listed, like ‘gurus, trainers, pagers’, etc. So yes, this piece is in fact reminiscent in sentiment to “Hotel California”. And it can be said that the goal of the vocalist is to depict American consumerism as being wasteful and frivolous in nature.

But it’s like you can’t really damn somebody for copping, say a “cell phone” these days. And even as far as agents go for instance, certain types of celebrities actually need such professionals in their lives. So more to the point, as implied in the next stanza, is the relentless pursuit of those luxuries, where the American Dream dictates that the paper chase is more important than all other aspects of life.

Miss Liberty

So next we have a mention of Miss Liberty, i.e. the Statue of Liberty, which serves as a symbol of American freedom and diversity. But in an artistic way, in this pieces she’s rather depicted being akin to a prison warden. And reading in between the lines, what it appears Henley is actually putting forth is a notion like the pursuit of the American Dream is a form of self-imprisonment, if you will.

The Intoxication

To further get the above point across, well in the next verse he shows that his beef with the current state of society isn’t all about a reckless dash for cash. For instance, Don proceeds to allude to the prevalence of drug abuse, even namedropping “opiates” before such became a hot topic later on in the 21st century.

But it is possible that his mentioning of drugs is intended to be more of a symbolic device. And that’s because the point he’s really trying to get at is the masses being kept intoxicated, if you will, so that we won’t focus on more pressing issues, such as how large corporations and the elite are conducting themselves at the world’s expense. 

Meanwhile the destructively-capitalist nature of the system is passed off as “just the predatory nature of the beast” or, put more into layman’s terms, things just being how they are. Meanwhile, those at the top of the pyramid are looking down on us below and mocking us for having actually accepted such abuse, so to speak.

In Conclusion

And the rest of the song primarily buttresses what is obviously intended to be the thesis sentiment of this piece. This song isn’t so much about American materialism or exploitation by the powers that be as it is the complacency of the masses. As depicted, the reason the people are so is because they too, in their hearts, want to live like the elite.

So in a way, this song is even wilder than “Hotel California” or, in the very least, more direct. Yes, the vocalist does have a major beef with those who, in the name of profit and dominion, exploit and manipulate the masses. But in his eyes, it isn’t like we’re innocent either. Instead, we’re so caught up in living pleasurably or “working it” that abuses from up above are for the most part ignored. But as for the vocalist himself, he personally isn’t having it.

Lyrics of Don Henley’s “Workin' It”

Release of “Workin’ It”

“Workin’ It” is a song recorded and performed by Don Henley of the Eagles fame. It is the fifth track from the singer’s fourth studio album titled “Inside Job”. This rock song was officially released on May 23 of 2000. It and it’s album (“Inside Job”) came out on the same day.


Henley authored this song in conjunction with fellow American singers and songwriters, Frank Simes and Stan Lynch.

Dylan’s “Inside Job” Album

This album, which Henley and Lynch produced together, was officially made public via record label, Warner Records Inc.  

“Inside Job” performed moderately on various charts around the globe. It peaked at number 7 in the US. In Canada and the UK, the album reached number 8 and 25, respectively.

Workin' It

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