Voices

Van you understand what I’m saying?

By the

April 19, 2001


I hate starting with a quote.

Now, that that’s taken care of, here’s the story of something I like a whole lot.

(Hint: love, family, friendship and obsession with Macintosh computers are subjects too personal for this space.)

“I am Bill S. Preston, Esquire.”

“And I’m Ted Theodore Logan”

“And we’re Wild Stallions.”

“Dude,we’re never going to have a hit video if we don’t get Eddie Van Halen on guitar.”

And so, at age 10, a seed was planted in my subconscious.

More than eight years later, with high school behind me, my brother stumbled on the album that would ultimately terrorize every single one of my college roommates and countless fellow Voicers … Van Halen’s Best of … Volume 1.

As a fourth grader, I wasn’t exactly familiar with music … any music. I knew my dad always played the Doobie Brothers as the first selection when the family went on road trips. Steely Dan was my dad’s favorite, and my mom really liked these guys called The Beatles. (Was I sheltered? Not really, I just didn’t have a radio or jam box or stereo to listen to, and I was kind of a nerd?I have a Mighty in Math cup, frisbee and hat to prove it.) To my credit, I knew that Cream was the coolest thing to listen to on headphones when I tired of the family music selections.

Suddenly I knew Eddie Van Halen was cool. Thank you Bill and Ted.

By the time I was in eighth grade (now able to listen to the radio on my boom box, but still a bit too nerdy to want to on a regular basis) and “Right Now” became famous in that Crystal Pepsi commercial, I had forgotten that Eddie was the guitar player. One of my friends, being more involved in music said that “Right Now” was by Van Hagar not true Van Halen (whatever that meant), as I had heard on the radio.

So when I went to the CD store, I disappointingly discovered that this Sammy Hagar guy, whom Eddie must have been the singer for, didn’t have any songs named “Right Now,” just some album titled Standing Hampton. I went home with AC/DC Back in Black, which was pretty cool but not life changing.

During high school, my collection of loud music gradually grew to include several selections stolen from my dad. First was Boston’s self-titled.

Then I got Led Zeppelin II, that Stevie Ray Vaughn album he had tried to give me in sixth grade and ZZ Top. In 11th grade when I tired of Green Day and The Offspring, I went out and bought my first CD that dad would eventually steal from me: The Baddest of George Thorogood.

I quickly discovered the cover of John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” was the baddest of the baddest. It didn’t make me start drinking (alone or otherwise), but it did make me realize that this classic rock station that I had been listening to was worth my time. I gave my friend back the Gn’R Appetite for Destruction tape that I had been playing whenever I drove around.

In 12th grade, I noticed this awesome song, “Running with the Devil” by Van Halen. I kept getting mad when I went to the store and found so many Van Halen albums, 5150, Diver Down, Women and Children First, Balance, 1984 and none of them had “Running with the Devil.” (Later I figured out it wasn’t a conspiracy: The album I needed just wasn’t there. That’s normal for a band with more than 10 multi-platinum albums.)

Then my brother intervened and found what I needed. The black disc of hits had “Run With the Devil,” and 16 other songs that I still can’t stop listening to. It was all music to my ears.

My brother eventually reclaimed that disc, but I got by with an ample collection of the original albums. Less than four years later, I own all 13 Van Halen albums, four Sammy Hagar solo albums and even a collection of David Lee Roth’s greatest. If Alex (Eddie’s brother, the drummer) had a solo album of nothing but drums, I’d buy it too.

Nothing sounds the same any more. I can’t even listen to normal conversation without hearing the Van Halen song titles. Even the “Panama” Canal sends my brain back to Van Halen. My brain knows that in the grand scheme a band is not a big deal. My ears just aren’t listening. They only hear Van Halen.

I still love the trail of classic rock that led me to Van Halen, but it’s not the same thing. The Beatles is the best band, Cream is amazing and Zeppelin is the most talented, but Van Halen is my band. Their sound is on my frequency.

Note to reader:

As surely as Bill and Ted needed Eddie on guitar, I need to pick the right law school. I’ve got four to choose from and I have no idea how to pick. As I think about them, they’re all great bands, but I need my song. I want my school.

I’ve got to get beyond Sammy’s question, “Why can’t this be love?” and find the school that makes me hear the beat to “So This is Love.” (Don’t worry I’m not going to choose based on song titles; it’s just an analogy.)

None of these schools is playing the song I need. Hopefully, I’ll see (or hear) which ones are great and which one is mine. If I can’t hear the music, I guess it’s back to fairy tales …

“Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.”



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