There aren’t many people who can honestly claim that they experienced Van Halen live at the impressionable age of seven! Fortunately, my parents were “cool” enough to expose me to Rock & Roll early on, and allowed me to experience the concert scene during Van Halen’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Tour in 1991. After expressing an interest in music, I was given a guitar at the age of four and encouraged by my parents to become a talented musician. Dispite parental fears of rebellion and delinquency, I was naturally exposed to- and given limitless education about- the adult world around me. It is because of this exposure, to Van Halen in particular, that I have chosen Van Halen as my favorite artist.
Van Halen’s rise to fame initially began by nabbing a gig at a popular nightclub in L.A., where they were “discovered” by Kiss bassist Gene Simmons in 1977. In the same year, after impressing Ted Templeman during a gig in Hollywood, Warner Bros. offered Van Halen a recording contract within a week after the show. For over the next 30 years, Van Halen would rock the entire world and, as a result, win a Grammy for the “Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal”, be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and hold the Guinness World Record for the most #1 hits on Bill Board’s Main Stream charts.
Below are the top 10 Van Halen songs, from a guitarist’s perspective.
10.) Top Of The World
Released in 1991 on the album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, this Van Halen tune fits the album’s title perfectly. Top of the World is not so much about the successes of life, but sheer hormonal
indulgence. The song’s opening riff literally gives me goosebumps, and I can easily relate to this song as a whole. Who needs Barry Manilow? I put this song on my top ten because it puts me in the mood!
Request a Van Halen song from just about any guitar player, and this it what he’ll play first. One of
Van Halen’s most widely recognized songs, Panama is not simply one of the first songs that I learned on the guitar, it’s one of the first songs that most rock enthusiasts learn on to play the guitar! Panama is heard on the album 1984, and was actually written about a car, believe it or not!
8.) Dance the Night Away
Van Halen’s first Top 20 U.S. hit, Dance the Night Away is a reletively mellow song that is sure to evoke the dancing spirit in everyone. Bring along a lady, and you’ll care not of your non-existent dance moves! For the guitarist, this song will make you realize that being cool isn’t all about hard and heavy!
7.) Runnin’ With the Devil
Heard on Van Halen’s self titled debut, Runnin’ with the Devil is a song that is synonomous with the term Guilty Pleasure! It brings out the Bad Boy/Girl in all of us, and we love it! Runnin’ With the Devil’s pulsing bassline is guaranteed to charge you up, bump by bump, and it’s guitar solos will have you rocking your air guitar in a matter of minutes.
6.) Beautiful Girls
Ah yeah, Beautiful Girls! This hormone dripping Van Halen tune, from Van Halen II, celebrates the basic necessity for every man on earth. David Lee Roth goes even further into the plot to make you envision yourself as the ultimate girl magnet at the beach, complete with a drink in your hand, and your toes in the sand!
I can already hear the sighs of guitarists from every corner of the world. Any guitarist would put Eruption, also from Van Halen’s self-titled debut, at the very top of their top ten list. It’s been done so many times,and as far as guitar solos are concerned, it is the best- even after 30 years! So, why did I put Eruption smack dab in the middle? Well, because it’s not so much a song as it is the the best guitar solo on Earth. I honestly didn’t know where to place it. Below five would be an insult, and above five would push one of my top four songs back. Eruption rocks, no doubt, but if you can’t sing to it…
4.) Summer Nights
From the album 5150, Summer Nights is the song to be played on a hot, humid night. Add some booze, and everyone will dance to this addictive and masterfully written song. Van Halen’s mid-years featured some of Eddie Van Halen’s best playing as well as epic songs that attract the attention of men and women alike. This song keeps me warm in the winter, and hot in the summer!
3.) Hot For Teacher
Who hasn’t had a crush on at least one of their teachers? Guys and gals alike can relate to this hit from Van Halen’s top selling record 1984! The video for this song is a hoot as well, featuring a dorky Waldo, as well as appropriately matched minitures for each of the band’s members! This is a must-hear tune, you’ll never be the same again!
2.) Little Guitars
Little Guitars, along with it’s mind numbing 42 second intro, is one of the few original songs featured on the album Diver Down. Don’t let that dissuade you from buying the album though, becuase when Van Halen covers a song, they do it well! Everyone can appreciate the sounds of a spanish guitar, and Eddie Van Halen nails it in the intro. The main song was inspired by- you guessed it- a little guitar, and in the early days of Van Halen Eddie would rarely play this song with anything but! Little Guitar’s is catchy, a brute to play and simply a blast to listen to!
1.) Best of Both Worlds
Best of Both Worlds was released on the album 5150, and features singer Sammy Hagar. It’s important to note here that Van Halen has gone through a few singers throughout the years. David Lee Roth is Van Halen’s original singer, and since they’ve recently reunited, is also the current singer. However, after the album 1984 was released, Roth left for a time and was replaced by Sammy Hagar. Fans have been divided for over two decades because of this; some love only the original Van Halen, and some love Van Hagar as well. I, for one, love both variations. Hagar put a twist in the music of Van Halen, but also kept the party vibe that they are renouned for. Best of Both Worlds is not only an audible masterpiece with Eddie being at his peak, but it’s a song that keeps me motivated. Call it the soundtrack of my life, but don’t we all want the best of both worlds? Get out there and live it!
Van Halen News Desk – Official Press Release 3.29.04
Classic Van Halen.com- Biography