Thursday, January 22, 2009


So, you know how in your life there are a few moments that you can clearly remember things changing for you forever? Like, from that moment on, you were different? I do, and that is what this post is all about. It's not funny so much as nostalgic, but for whatever reason it just seemed like something to write about.

6th grade, 1984.

Up to this point in my life, I didn't listen to much rock. I was a KISS fan, but they got a little out of control and my mom sort of put the kibosh on my membership to the KISS army. I would occasionally go over to this one guys house, and his older brother would be playing Led Zepplin or Black Sabbath or something, and I thought it was awesome, but those little snatches of radness just never took hold. Really, up to that point, I was more of a country fan, because that was what my folks listened to.

Then came a revelation: 1984 by Van Freaking Halen. Eddie Van Halen was the coolest guitar player ever, and for whatever reason, I was able to listen to Van Halen without getting any static from the parents. Man, I think I wore out 3 cassettes over the course of 1984 listening to 1984. A bunch of other cool records came out that year: Pyromania by Def Leppard, Metal Health by Quiet Riot, Tooth and Nail by Dokken. I listened to them all, but Van Halen ruled with an iron fist. I loved Van Halen. I still love Van Halen. I will die loving Van Halen.

Looking a little deeper, I can even pinpoint the exact song that changed everything. It was "Hot for Teacher". The second I heard "Hot for Teacher" I was hooked. Add to that the incredibly awesome video (Ms. PhysEd still haunts my dreams), and it becomes a little clearer why a bored 6th grader looking for an identity and something to latch on to found the best band in the world.

Thinking about it now, it surprises me a little that I can point not only to one particular band, but one individual song. Why did that song stick, where "Dancing on the Ceiling" or some song by Culture Club didn't? Why Van Halen? Why not Sabbath, or Aerosmith, or Foghat? I don't really know, but it did, and the result is me.

Enjoy watching a key turning point in my life!


Anonymous said...

Loving Van Halen when they were new is OK simply because back then you didn't know any better. Hammer on technique solos and ending every phrase with a screech is quite literally part A and B in the manual of "How to be an amplified annoyance". For more on this please consult ANY electric guitar magazine written ever. Chances are better than good that not only will EVH have written an article on the topic, several contemporaries will have written theirs as well. Despite the proclamations of radio stations, stagnating in your musical preferences is not an indication that something is "classic". Given the limited range and vacuous lyrics, VH is better classified as all old pop is: Oldies. Personally, I'd rather hear Little Richard.

Timbo said...

Right. Little Richard. He wasn't a gag performer in any way, shape or form.

There is a difference between going back to what you loved and still enjoying it and stagnating.

The Bumbles said...

Hahahahaha! I totally knew you were going to end up at "Hot For Teacher" - 6th grade boys - well, boys in general, were all drawn to that video like a tractor beam. Why wasn't Culture Club your genesis? Because they sucked - that's why! I don't know what Anonymous' problem is - VH rocked.

Anonymous said...

At the height of his popularity, Little Richard was considered to be a threat to main stream American values. Much like Elvis, Twisted Sister, 2Live Crew and Marylin Manson. In contrast Van Halen was/is little more than adding hammer-on's to hair metal. Pop music is overflowing with acts that slap one or two variations on a proven theme before being broadcast ad nauseaum. Such is the case with VH. The original point was that VH is pop, not rock. If forced to choose old pop (oldies) I'd rather listen to someone who actually created more than a short lived gimmick. Especially someone who could deliver just one lyric without screeching afterwords!