I am a music snob, and I make no apologies for this. If you're going to pick up an instrument and bother my ears then you better mean something pal. My music is Lou Reed painting an audio picture of the ugliness of heroin addiction. My music is Iggy Pop shoving a flower up the ass of the happy hippies of the 60's. Rage Against The Machine not taking any shit from the man, now there's some music for you. You play air-headed meaningless pop noise around me and you will be mercilessly mocked. Music when done right is the most valid of art forms and art has meaning goddamn it.
The hair bands were not art. Ratt. Poison. Motley Crue. If you lived through the late 80's you know what I'm sayin'. These poofball pretenders dominated radio and MTV airplay during my youth, and I fought their power with all the weapons an oily faced awkward adolescent could muster. I wrote a column in my high school newspaper whose sole purpose was to attack the Van Halen song "Panama." In the alpha-male pack culture that is life in a freshman college dorm hall, I was probably branded a suspected homosexual for arguing that "Girls Girls Girls" was a bigger waste of audiotape than recording your own flatulence. I never wavered in this struggle, and when Kurt Cobain came in 1992 to liberate small town red state top 40 radio from the clutches of hairspray, it was like the Messiah himself had finally arrived to lift me upward for the rapture. The hair bands have since been relegated to the dustbin of music history, where they belong.
My friends, all the while, the entire time I was fighting this fight so successfully, I had something in my closet:
That is a picture of David Lee Roth, the lead singer of Van Halen during their glory days. I own 1984, the Van Halen album which contains the song I so viciously attacked in that high school newspaper column. I also own Van Halen I and II, and I listen to them, when no one else is around and the curtains are closed. I once saw David Lee Roth perform at the Ohio State Fair after Van Halen had kicked him out of the rock and roll fast lane and into the gutter. I attended the show alone, and there were maybe 50 other people there. It was a terrible performance, and afterwards I went on a corn dog eating bender to try and forget. I secretly cheered when I heard the news that Van Halen is soon to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I am hoping against hope they won't let Sammy Hagar, Roth's pathetic pale imitation of a replacement, into the induction ceremony. Only one person in the real world knows of this part of my life, and I live in constant fear they will use this information against me. I am a hypocrite, and I am not proud. Before you judge me however, I ask only that you listen to the opening drum solo of "Hot For Teacher," not on an iPod, but on a cherry piece of vinyl through a turntable connected to speakers as tall as you are, the way it was meant to be heard. Listen, then throw the first stone if you must.
The human soul has a need to confess, and that need is why I am posting this tonight. Talk to me on the street tomorrow though, and I'll tell you Van Halen sucks, and you'll walk away convinced that I mean it.
Might as well jump.