On That New Van Halen Thingy

Apropos this post I wanted to comment on something Eddie Van Halen said in the interview, here. David Lee Roth remarks late in the interview that Eddie’s guitar playing always reminded him of drumming. (Diamond Dave learned something from his radio gig: how to interview and when to shut up, thank gawd). This is a really trenchant remark on his part. Eddie’s use of finger-tapping and the harmonic tapping always fascinated me. I tried and tried to learn how to play the harmonics as he does many, many times. I just couldn’t do it as rapidly as Eddie did. But the finger-tapping? A short story.

At around 15 I was getting better playing the guitar and was listening to Eddie Van Halen all the time. I had no idea how to finger-tap. Heck, I was still memorizing scales and chords, trying to move from an open F to an E to a G and then run the pentatonic along the fret board without fouling it up. One night I got far too high on some of my Dad’s chronic. (He always had the good stuff and I raided his stash whenever I could. Of course, I am reformed now.) I fell asleep and dreamed. Yes, I dreamed Eddie Van Halen taught me to finger tap. And the next morning I woke up and to my surprise tried what I had dreamed. It was rough, but it was finger tapping.

I don’t ascribe this knowledge to any kind of divine inspiration or to dreams in general. I tend to see the mind as a giant computer and sleep as a large scale defragging session, a way of re-arranging the knowledge we accrue in daylight and process and synthesize it.

Sure, the new CD is lackluster; sure, it has its moments: Stay Frosty is a fun tune, worthy of late 70s Southern California with the best of David Lee Roth’s bullshit thrown in for good measure. Yes, Dave’s got the howl, but most of the time he sounds old ¬†and tired.

Eddie’s guitar shines–its that big Southern Cali sound and always will be. But get this: Eddie cannot read music? I never knew that.

Alex’s beats are great, hypnotic.

Eddie’s son Wolfgang holds down the fort with a steady bass line. The only thing missing is Michael’s Anthony harmonizing. Never realized how integral he was to the chorus line vocals.

Anyway, that’s totally random. I’m looking forward to the show in June. I missed the 1984 tour as I was grounded by my Dad. Not this year.

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