As far as I’m concerned, Van Halen’s 1984 only has three songs.
I added it this week to an amazon dot com order, realizing that I did not have the disc on hand and feeling nostalgic following the weird reunion news of this week. I debated internally for several moments before I decided that I am too old and balding to attend a Van Halen performance and that the risk of purchasing tickets is simply too great. I am certain that before they reach the D.A.R., Eddie will be so sick of Dave’s fits over brown M&Ms that he’ll be swilling soco and screaming “Bah bammit bave, you a fucking aahho. You fiah. Fucker.”
I won’t even get into the now hackneyed argument that it just isn’t Van Halen without Mike. If I hear one more guy say “the vocals just won’t sound right without Mike,” I swear, I’ll just bo-zee-bo-zee-bop. Not that it isn’t true. It’s just, geez. Find a new tack already. He’s a bass player who sings like a girl really good. He’ll be missed on the tour. Thumbs up.
There’s a fall day in seventh grade I’ll never forget. I rode my bike across town to visit my buddy. I’d been listening to Diver Down for a really long time at that point. I know it wasn’t my introduction to Van Halen, that my first actual introduction to them was several years earlier, the first time I heard “Dance the Night Away” on the radio. But I hadn’t yet made the connection. As far as I knew, that red, white-striped cover was the first time I’d ever plugged in. I had recorded the album to tape and had popped it into my little mono boom box, which I had stuffed into a backpack and had it blasting behind me as I rode the 20 minutes or so from Holden Land to Longcoy World. It was fucking awesome. Without a doubt, to me, Diver Down, not 1984, is the most incredible Van Halen recording, with Women and Children First and Fair Warning following.
So, listening to 1984 now, I understand that it really only has three songs on it, “Panama,” “Top Jimmy,” and the heavenly, sloppy wet “Drop Dead Legs.” The rest, I think, ought to have served as harbingers, should have warned of the weird yet to come. I admit that I enjoyed 5150 and also that I actually went to see Van Hagar live, but I am generally a VH purist. Wolfgang could play “Flight of the Bumblebee” on that bass with his dong and his left pinkie and the lineup would not impress me.
All I know is that you, me, and every teenage boy at that age at that time was convinced he was Top Jimmy, or at least always wanted to be.
He’s the king.