“Little Guitars (Intro)”
“Best of Both Worlds”
– Van Halen
Every summer, around this time, I spend an afternoon listening to Van Halen’s Diver Down and 5150 albums. Those two albums, representing the DLR and Hagar sides of classic VH, have always screamed summer to me. I didn’t get Diver Down until the summer of ’84, months after buying 1984 and nearly two years after its initial release. So it was a big part of the greatest music summer of my life. I bought 5150 while in St. Louis in July, 1986. Soon after I bought every Van Halen album I didn’t already own and spent the month of August listening to all the band’s albums over-and-over, with 5150 getting a little extra attention since it was the new album. Thursday was my Van Halen day for this summer. It was a good day.
Here are a couple fine songs from each album. For all the Sammy haters out there, “Best of Both Worlds” has a strong claim to best VH song ever. It’s not better than “Panama,” but it’s not too far down the list.
“Strangest Thing” – The War on Drugs
Back in mid-June, music writer Steven Hyden teased his Twitter followers, saying his favorite song of 2017 was on an album that wasn’t coming out for a few months, and that he hoped it was released as a single so he could Tweet about it 27 times. Tuesday at 2:00 I got an email from Warner Brothers Music saying that since I had pre-ordered the next War on Drugs album, I could download their new single, “Strangest Thing.” Moments later Hyden tweeted that this was the song he was talking about. He didn’t quite hit the 27-Tweet threshold, but he did carry on for a bit.
Preceded by two epic singles and arriving with the label of best song of the year by my favorite music writer, there was no pressure on this track when I listened to it for the first time. None at all.
Honestly I think Hyden undersold it. Holy-freaking-good-lord is this a great song! The War on Drugs has made some incredible songs over the years. This very well might be the greatest thing they’ve ever done. It’s a solid four-star song up until the 4:25 mark. When the drums beat a little louder, you know something huge is about to happen. And then Adam Granduciel drops the biggest goddam guitar solo of the last 20 years and it turns into something legendary. I’ve only listened to this about 500 times over the past three days. I could write 3000 words about it, but I think I’ll save the rest for December.
Yeah, go ahead and slot this in as my favorite song of the year. Unless they have something even more incredible tucked away on the album.
“Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash.
My man E$ and his family are coming to visit this weekend, so this is in honor of him. Perhaps if I get him to drink enough beers he’ll stand on a chair and dance to this song at some point.
“Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats.
Speaking of E$ favorites…