While Todd is busy listening to a new song by the Wusses, er, the Shins, yours truly was rockin’ out with his cock out (well, not really, fortunately for my work colleagues) to “Tattoo,” the new ditty from VAN FUCKING HALEN. If you dare, click the video below…
Um…well, I never said it was great.
“Tattoo” (which makes the bold move of including the word “dragon” within its chorus) is a bit benign. The video is sorta odd and boring at once. Odd because at times the vocals don’t sync with Diamond Dave’s mouth movements. Odd because Wolfgang is holding Michael Anthony’s place as the stocky guy on bass, but without the solid backing vocals. Odd because DLR dances around like he’s trapped in an old Jamiroquai video. And boring because the song just doesn’t blister like VH did during the heyday.
All the same, if Van Halen is going to try some new tunes with three classic members, it might as well be Dave, Eddie, and Alex (and the latter’s thousands of cymbals). Dave might not be able to bring the vocals like he used to, but his singing was never the main asset; being a frontman is in his DNA, and he still has charisma. And if nothing else, this new song brought back some fond memories that involve the Halen.
In no particular order, my favorite Van Halen moments from my life:
Finding a casette of 1984 and keeping it. Someone at St. Patrick’s Grade School must have dropped it on the playground. I spotted the white plastic rectangle, approached it hoping it was something like “People Are People” by Depeche Mode, saw it was that album with “Panama” (the greatest American rock song EVER), surveyed the area for any nosy nuns, and stuck the tape in my Super Denim pocket. (And I never said anything about it at confession. Ha!) And it was on. Phrases such as “I don’t feel tardy” and “Got an on-ramp going through my bedroom” entered that vast wasteland in my brain reserved for AWESOME SONG LYRICS. I played air guitar (behind my head, no less!) in my bedroom while “House of Pain” flew out of my JCPenney stereo speakers. I flaunted the air drums during the “Hot for Teacher” intro and the “Girl Gone Bad” outro. But even then I was a bit of a hipster snob: I never thought “Jump” was that great of a song.
A Microsoft Paint rendering of what The Cool Guys' Club sign looked like in 1986.
Painting the VH logo on our neighborhood clubhouse sign. A few “toughs” residing in northeast Waukon banded together to form a neighborhood gang called, fittingly, “The Cool Guys’ Club.” This was done without irony—it was 1986 and the gang’s members ranged in age of 8 to 12. We had a “clubhouse,” which was actually random planks of wood nailed haphazardly across some low-hanging tree branches. And we nailed a sign to the tree. The sign announced our group’s moniker. The word “The” started in the upper-left corner, and each word descended gradually toward the lower-right, where “Club” landed. I thought the sign was cool, but not cool enough. So I painted the legendary “VH” logo in the upper-right corner. Within days the sign was vandalized and The Cool Guys’ Club’s mojo never really returned. But for those 96 hours or whatever, it was the coolest thing going in the 200 block of Sixth Avenue NE.
Playing air guitar to the intro of “Panama” while driving, annoying the Brothers Schneden. On the way home from visiting Platteville, Wis., to see the Chicago Bears work out at training camp, my friends Travis and Corey Schneden and I listened to one of my infamous “This CD-R Sucks!” mixes. “Panama” was one of the standout tracks on Volume Three. The best part about air guitaring this song? The part where Eddie slides his fingers across the fretboard after the initial few notes, because you can extend that slide right out the driver’s side window if you’re REALLY into it. Which I was, although the Schnedens were not, based on their eye rolls and utterances of “God, you’re dumb.” They were not in The Cool Guys’ Club.
Joining BMG and getting the eponymous debut album as one of my introductory cassettes. Arriving along with stuff like Vixen’s self-titled debut and Bon Jovi’s New Jersey was this awesome collections of tunes, highlighted by “Atomic Punk,” “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love,” and “I’m the One,” songs I like quite a bit today, truth be told. (The same can’t be said about Vixen or Bon Jovi.) And the aforementioned Brothers Schneden and I would endless annoy their sister Jami by singing the song “Jamie’s Cryin'” to the point where she wanted to settle things with fisticuffs. The tale of the tape showed that I had all the advantages (age, height, weight, reach) but I knew I was deficient in the intangibles (the blind rage of someone teased mercilessly by her older brothers and their even older friend) so I gave it a rest and probably went back to playing Travis (a.k.a. “The Beast”) in some Nintendo game.
Blaring the opening of “Good Enough” (HELLO, BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABY! [guitar screech]) on my boom box. Always a crowd pleaser when you and your friends are 12.
Realizing the acronym of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Huh-huh! Huh-huh! (And feeling good about the decision made at OU812 not to buy any more new material by the band.)
And most recently, seeing Episode 9 of the show Yacht Rock. The story of how Doobies producer Ted Templeman decided to produce Van Halen albums. What they did with the doo-wop breakdown of “I’m the One” and the incorporation of Kenny Loggins’ keys are priceless comedy ingredients. (Big ups to Timothy Davis for bringing this to my attention.) Watch the episode below (you could skip to the 0:38 mark and not miss anything).
I’ve lived a good life, no? Thanks for random moments of joy, Dave, Eddie, Alex, and that other guy…and even Sammy.