The legendary rock band Van Halen wasn’t known for many cosmically-themed songs, but its influence on millions can certainly be described as “out of this world.”
The passing of the band’s legendary guitarist and songwriter Edward Lodewijk “Eddie” Van Halen is heartbreaking, though I keep thinking back to a line from the movie “Almost Famous” where the character Penny Lane says, “If you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.”
Since hearing of Eddie’s passing on Tuesday (Oct. 6), I’ve been going to my 21st-century version of a record store — aka Spotify — to celebrate the music of Van Halen. Perusing through their catalog, which includes 12 studio albums with three different singers, I recalled that outer space played a small part in their music through the years.
For example, the last studio album, 2012’s “A Different Kind of Truth,” has a song called “Outta Space,” with songwriting credits going to the entire band, which include three-quarters of the band’s original lineup: David Lee Roth, Edward Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and Wolfgang Van Halen. Wolfgang, Eddie’s son, replaced the bassist and backing vocalist Micheal Anthony for several tours starting in 2006.
The song’s lyrics — “Counter blast, interstellar facial full/ Bumper sticker on my rocket’s ass/ Go home. The earth is full/ Outta Space, Outta Space” — bring a smile to my space-enthusiast face, and Eddie’s incendiary guitar play truly brings David Lee Roth’s lyrics to life.
A song from the group’s “5150” album, “Love Walks In,” is about aliens according to their singer at the time, Sammy Hagar. The ballad is keyboard heavy, another avenue of Eddie Van Halen’s remarkable talent. He and his brother Alex, who is Van Halen’s incredible drummer, were taught to play piano at an early age. Watch a live version of “Love Walks In” here:
Although it is not exactly space-related, the music video for the song “Dreams” from “5150” was in essence a U.S. Navy Blue Angels promo and very fitting for the theme of the song, which includes the lyrics: “We’ll get higher and higher/ Straight up we’ll climb/ We’ll get higher and higher/ Leave it all behind.” Watch below:
I’ll certainly be looking to the sky while listening to ‘Dreams’ from now on to give Eddie a nod.
As the tributes pour in from musicians all over the world, I’ve been truly touched by some impromptu performances:
Multi-talented musician Jason Achilles Mezilis’ beautiful piano rendition of “316” is truly cosmic. The song is from the Van Halen record “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” and was a fixture in Eddie’s live guitar solos through the years. Take a listen here:
Amazing guitarist and singer Kenny Hohman from the Troy Music Academy and rock band Super 400 induces chills as he rips through the legendary guitar solo “Eruption” from Van Halen’s 1978 debut self-titled record for his tribute to Eddie.
The combination of innovation and mastery of his art, truly makes me believe that Eddie Van Halen’s talent was not of this Earth. Thanks Eddie, you left an incredible mark on this world for all to enjoy, forever.