So tonight's the night. I'm going with my cousin Aaron and his teenage sons to Orlando to see Van Halen in concert. It was sixteen or so years ago that he and I camped out for tickets to see the Sammy Hagar version during the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge tour. David Lee Roth returns as the lead singer, wearing spandex Depends I imagine, and all of the memories of my youth are beginning to flood back to me.
Remember when you used to tape songs off the radio? You didn't even know what song was going to come on, but you recorded anyway, gambling. And usually the DJ talked the song up, over the beginning part of the music, and then it took you four or five times of pressing the record button, hating the David Bowie crap song that came on, then rewinding, finding the end to your last song, then setting up all over again. Who needs iTunes? That's for cheaters. By the end of a three-hour wasted evening, you finally had a tape with eight chopped up songs, each with a partial word from a DJ sprinkled in -- but you listened to it for weeks. We're talking the lives of an 80s teen. My older brothers used to listen to the Van Halen and Van Halen II records (bought from Columbia House of course) religiously while I was a 9-10 year old, and I grew to appreciate it. Granted, they also had a "Cat Scratch Fever" Ted Nugent album ... I'll pass.
Not only was the music different back then (not necessarily better, although there are very few true rock bands left in this world, but different), and obviously the medium of which we listen to the music is much different (CDs, iTunes, satellite radios -- has anyone bitten on HD Radio yet? That has to be the biggest scam since the cabbage soup diet.) When I was a teenager, walking around the neighborhood, listening to a tape in a boombox the size of a compact car, we used to listen to the whole side of a tape/album. A CD doesn't even have different sides on it. What the heck is that? The fact that you would sit and listen -- and memorize -- the crap songs in between the hits, made you appreciate the hits even more! Plus, back in the day, an album was sometimes created as an entire piece of work (Pink Floyd's The Wall for instance) that was meant to be listened to in its entirety. Have you been in the car with someone born after 1980 when they are in charge of the CDs? I swear, they change the CD after every other song! They don't even know what the other songs are.
My boss, Peter Madden, went to see Van Halen in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday. He asked if I wanted to check out the set list, and I told him to not tell me anything about the show. I like to see a concert -- then try to come up with which random songs they didn't sing and complain about it! For example, after tonight's show, I imagine myself turning to Aaron and yelling, "I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY DIDN'T PLAY 'TOP JIMMY!'" For the record, that's one of the crap songs from a fantastic "1984" album ... I just realized, I'm going to see Van Halen with his two sons, who were born NINE YEARS after 1984.
Thankfully, the video game "Rock Band" has done the world some justice by getting today's kids listening to classic rock again. The fact that they are playing games to songs like The Stones' "Gimme Shelter," Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," and CCR's "Fortunate Son," makes me feel like the world might be in good hands again someday. Now where the hell is my pipe and tobackky!?!
This version of Van Halen will have Wolfgang Van Halen playing bass, not Michael Anthony, and David Lee Roth is back behind the mic, without Sammy Hagar around. The '91 concert had Hagar and Anthony, and to be honest, I'm more upset about the Michael Anthony dissing than the fact they haven't brought Hagar to sing the 90s songs. At some point this evening, I plan on shouting my displeasure about the absence of Anthony, to which I'm sure the people around me will voice their love for young Wolfgang. Alex and Eddie, to me at least, have always seemed like the prima donas that refuse to bend and make allowances for the betterment of their music and their fans' love. They do what THEY want, we buy the tickets, they cash the checks. I don't know what my point is though, other than, it ticks me off ...
I'm not one of these people that hates getting old. I have no problem with it to be honest. Some things never change though. I still think fat Valerie Bertinelli is hot. I still lose my voice screaming to songs on the radio on the way home from work. I still scream the wrong words. Although, as Fazal said, my 1984 Van Halen t-shirt now looks like a half-shirt ... and I just made all my readers throw up in their mouth a little bit.
My cousin mentioned that his teenage sons won't be into this concert as much as we were 16 or so years ago, and they'll mostly just be hoping some chicks flash the stage. But the joke's on them, since the chicks that flash the stage will likely be ones that were also breastfeeding back before they were even born ... I'll be smiling though.
My Top 15 Van Halen (pre-Hagar) Songs (AKA "The -- They better play this -- List") in no order
- Running With the Devil
- Jamie's Cryin'
- Ain't Talking Bout Love
- And the Cradle Will Rock
- Everybody Wants Some
- Where Have All the Good Times Gone
- Dance the Night Away
- Beautiful Girls
- Hot For Teacher
- Bottoms Up
- You're No Good
- Ice Cream Man