Being that it's Presidents' Day Weekend, one of the local classic rock stations did a survey of its listeners, asking them to name the iconic song of each president's term from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan. The survey was put out there by Greg Kihn, a local (and somewhat mildly nationally-recognized) guitarist and band-leader, who does the morning show on that radio station. Nixon's term was represented by Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" (appropriate for so many reasons), I forget Ford and Carter's representatives, but Reagan's was voted as....Van Halen's
This got me to thinking...was Van Halen the most representative rock band of the 80s? And what is it about "Panama" that is so cool?
For me, a kid born in the mid-70s, and an MTV kid, Van Halen was one of the coolest bands ever. Their videos set the tone for much of the goofy, silly, extravagant, party-inducing videos that would come later. But that wasn't the only reason you listened to them...Eddie Van Halen is a bona fide rock god. Seriously...listen to "Panama"...or better yet,
Sure, some of the other songs with funnier videos were iconic of the 80s, but if you took just the music...yeah, in many ways, Van Halen was truly iconic of the 80s. And even though I love me some Sammy Hagar, the band just wasn't the same without Diamond Dave wailing and growling away...videos and stage presence aside. Yes, there were many, many other acts of the 80s that could represent the decade--and for various reasons--but I can see the appeal of Van Halen being the representatives. I mean, when you think of Reagan and his crew, isn't the polar opposite Van Halen?
What's sad is to see that Eddie is such an epic rock star that he can't stay dry enough to regain his greatness...Michael decided that he didn't want to put up with Eddie's antics...Diamond Dave is washed up...and does anyone care about Alex? Meh, rock n roll greats aren't meant to go on for ever and ever in the same vein. It seems like the lifestyle and the mentality will destroy the weaker individuals, and make the stronger ones go to other avenues and arenas just to survive into middle age and beyond. Thankfully we have their recordings to remind us of how great they really were.