I've mentioned more than once in this series that I play instruments. I play piano and guitar. As poorly as I play them, these are not lies. I can sit down and play a tune on each instrument. Nothing spectacular, but a tune nonetheless. I say this only to introduce today's birthday, Eddie Van Halen, born Jan. 26, 1955.
Eddie Van Halen is a master of guitar. There are few that will challenge this. He is repeatedly put in a class with Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn in terms of his technical ability. But that leaves me with one question: why don't I like his music?
So far, this Birthday Blips segment has been praiseworthy of musicians I feel deserve respect. My hopes for this project are more than that, though. I'm no taste-maker, and don't expect anyone to feel I promote my preferences as superior than anyone else's. I write about my taste-influences because that's all I know. I want to hear how others agree and disagree with my thoughts. That's why I get into what makes us like the music we do, and that's why I want to get into how I never liked Van Halen.
I had many chances to be influenced to love Van Halen. My neighborhood used to play kick ball in the street when I was about eight years old. All ages played, and I clearly recall the boom box being brought out to provide us with some inspiration. One of the most played albums was Van Halen's 1984. I loved the obnoxious opening, "Hello Bayyyyyyyyybay!" and I loved the sound of the guitar throughout. "Jump", "Panama", and " Hot For Teacher" all stand out as memorable tunes from the disc, but I can't say I've ever had the desire to go back and listen to the album again. I've heard the songs I've mentioned since then and had a nostalgic moment for my past, but I can't say I've listened to them and respected how they've stood the test of time.
To put it simply, I prefer substance over style. And to me, Eddie Van Halen has a ton of style (and twenty tons of technical ability) over substance. As someone who has tried to play a guitar, I have to give eternal respect to Eddie Van Halen for what he accomplished with the same six strings I've struggled with. Still, I also must say that I've never found the respect for the excessive guitar showiness that I feel his music, along with a lot of other 80s metal music, thrived upon. After all, there's a reason why the simplicity of Nirvana and the rest of the early nineties' simple power chords caught on with fervor that they did. And maybe that's why I always favor passion over mastery. But I'm always willing to admit that I may have missed something, and that's why we have a comment section. So what do you think?
And always, listen to tunes I've referenced at: