Friday, May 24, 2024

I still love you if you don't know Van Halen

 WE HAVE A lot of problems. War, greed, inept political leaders, crumbling streets, the high cost of snacks, even making a 6 when you are right beside the green in 2. Chaos! It's enough to get you down if you think about it too much.

But how do you cope when you hear a Lab Brat say, "I don't know who Van Halen is. What does he sing?"

Earlier this week I told some of the Lab Brats about a milestone birthday coming up. I won't tell you how old. It's .... old. I said, "I'm gonna have a party, and I'm hiring Van Halen."

One of the Lab Brats said, "Tough to do since he's dead." Another said, "You are really that old?"

But it was the third Lab Brat, and I won't embarrass her but her initials are Connor, who really stunned me when she admitted she'd never heard of Van Halen.

Momentarily stunned, I dropped my transport bag and fell on the floor. Somebody mopped my brow and got me some water. I ignored the caustic "You probably shouldn't drive" and "Are they from Germany?" comments from other Lab Brats.

I will give Connor a pass here. She is young and helps me carry heavy stuff into the lab. She also doles out excellent advice about dry skin care. So I won't diss her.

Eddie Van Halen is one of the greatest guitar players and musicians of all times. Ever. I like Van Halen AND Van Hagar. I even liked Gary Cherone's one failed bid to sing with the band. Van Halen wrote and played some great classic rock songs. Nobody sounded like them. Nobody played the guitar like Eddie. Sure, they were a walking rock and roll soap opera.

Maybe it's just a connection to a younger self.

When the album 1984 came out, we watched the premier of the "Jump" video at a friend's house in Grand Rapids, Mich. It was Jan. 1, 1984. We were amazed - Eddie is playing keyboards! Then the rest of the songs came out and soon we were cranking "Panama" and "Hot For Teacher" and even "Drop Dead Legs."

If you want to talk cultural significance, well ... there's a reason Eddie's guitar is in the Smithsonian Institute.

In the summer of 1983, a friend gave me the first Van Halen album, which I still think is one of the greatest rock and roll recordings. I was18 and rebelling from the whole Calvinist thing at the time and identified with "Running With the Devil." Hey baby, "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love!" Songs like "Atomic Punk" and "Erruption” careened off the rails and blew me away. Who was this guitar player and this crazy lead singer? It seared into my brain and I still get fired up hearing "Jamie's Crying."

So maybe it's more about identifying a simpler time, and rock and roll roots.

Other younger Lab Brats know Van Halen, or at least, "Jump." At 9th Street, Lead Lab Brat McKenzie started asking everybody who the man in black was, and that got some really interesting responses. And if you really think about it, not knowing Johnny Cash's nickname might be a bigger faux pas than not knowing Van Halen.

It's all good. Times have changed and kids these days are into different things, and I'm too old to disagree or get upset about it. Once I get off the floor when hearing they have no idea who Van Halen is, I'm okay. 

And I need all the dry skin care tips I can get from Connor.


No comments:

Post a Comment