Friday, February 2, 2007

Van Halen Reunites!

Van Halen is finally getting the respect they deserve. Nearly three decades after the release of their debut album, they are going to be inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. David Lee Roth, Edward Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony will share the stage for the first time since 1996. The band is preparing for a tour this summer, with Eddie’s 15-year old son Wolfgang on bass.

There was a time where I would not have missed this show for the world. When I was 13, Van Halen ruled my life. I remember my friend Jeremy coming over to my house with his dad’s copy of Van Halen I. I could not believe what I was hearing. I had never heard anyone play guitar like that before. I had never heard a frontman with such personality, and I had never heard such a tight rhythm section. The band was perfect in every way. I bought a copy immediately.

The music was great, but it wasn’t the reason Van Halen became my favorite band. Van Halen was my favorite band because of the image they projected. To me, they came across as gods on Mount Olympus. Life was a giant wet t-shirt contest, and I went along for the ride. David Lee Roth was everything I wanted to be: He had long blond hair, he had abs, he looked awesome in leather pants, and most importantly he could get any woman on earth.

I listened to Van Halen I every week for about three years, supplemented with liberal amounts of 1984 and Women and Children First. Then I started to grow up, and my image of Van Halen as the perfect band began to break apart. David Lee Roth’s blond mane started to thin, and the spandex pants didn’t fit as well. Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen’s rhythm section wasn’t as exciting compared to Pantera’s wrecking crew of Rex Brown and Vinnie Paul. I watched Eddie destroy himself with alcohol and cigarettes. I listened to them less and less, until I barely listened to them at all.

A decade after I bought Van Halen I, my dream has come true. The band is going on tour with Roth. So why am I on the fence? I think it’s because a small part of me holds onto the image I once had. I’m afraid that if I go see them, the image of the conquering heroes of 1984 will fade forever. I really don’t want to lose that image.

Yes, Van Halen will take the stage once again this summer. They will look older, and they might not be as energetic as they were 23 years ago. But they will delve into their catalog of classic songs: “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love,” “Unchained,” “Hot For Teacher.” The crowd will be rabid, and Dave will say “Look at all the people here tonniiiigggttt!”

This time, I will be one of them.

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