So now I’m letting my mind focus on writing music, and that inevitably leads me to think about what other people have already written that I want to aspire to and emulate…and what I don’t. And that obviously starts with Sammy Hagar.
I keep an MP3 CD of all the VH studio albums in the car and generally listen to it in order. In the great Dave/Sammy debate, I don’t really choose sides. I prefer Dave but that doesn’t mean I don’t like Sammy; I’ve seen VH live with both of them now and I enjoyed both. I think Sammy has a more dynamic range, he’s a good performer, “I Can’t Drive 55” is just plain awesome, he’s a straight-shooter in interviews, and he makes the best tequila I’ve ever tasted. Seriously — since my 30th birthday, I have had a bottle of Cabo Wabo blanco in the house at all times. But what the man cannot do is write lyrics.
Sometimes they’re just cliche. Sometimes they’re just…stunning. Let’s start with “Why Can’t This Be Love” from 5150, one of VH’s best albums:
I tell myself, hey only fools rush in
Only time will tell if we stand the test of time.
That’s so dumb it’s smart — practically a Zen koan.
Then there was OU812, which was actually the album that introduced me to the band, featuring such songs as “Black and Blue”:
Slip ‘n slide, push it in
Bitch sure got the rhythm
I’m holding back, oh yeah, I got control
Hooked into her system
Don’t draw the line
Honey I ain’t through with you
The harder the better
Let’s do it ’til we’re black and blue.
Now, thinking about the stuff I want to do, some of it is going to be vulgar. I’m planning on it. I think vulgarity is funny. But that? That’s a single-entendre.
And then, later in the album, I caught “Sucker in a 3 Piece”:
She’s so fine, about a nine on a ten scale
With long legs, straight on up to her lunch pail
Sweet little wishbone, oh yeah, don’t wanna break her in half
Lick up one side and down the other, always make her laugh
Let’s forget for a moment that he’s referencing his own 1976 album title and focus on….um, did he just call a woman’s crotch a “lunch pail”? The rest of the song is mostly less-than-clever plays on the word “sucker.”
I’m not even going to list lyrics from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, but I will note that it features songs called “Pleasure Dome,” “In ‘N Out,” “Spanked,” and of course, the lead single, “Poundcake,” which is just one of Sammy’s weird analogies for “tasty woman.”
This doesn’t even address his schmaltzy love songs, which are too numerous — and in every sense of the word, too obvious — to mention. His songs just seem to take the easy, vague route. The last track on Sammy’s last VH album is “Feelin'”:
Feelin’, no, I don’t like what I’ve been told I’m feelin’
I’m bleedin’, like no one else will ever know I’m bleedin’
Dealin’, I’m dealin’ with these things I’m feelin’
I’m dreamin’, I’m dreamin’, I’m dreamin’ things that show me what
Seein’… I’m seein’ things that I don’t know I’m feelin’
I’ve been feelin’, I’m feelin’, I’m feelin’ things that I don’t know
I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m seein’
Hey, I don’t understand
And then there’s the he-said/he-said thing about Sammy’s lyrics to “Humans Being” — were they or were they not about tornadoes? — which is rather well chronicled by Guitar World and reprinted here.
Again, I like Sammy. He’s a hell of a performer and I am really looking forward to Chickenfoot. But as a lyricist, I think he’s one of the worst examples out there.
If any of my stuff sounds like Sammy, it will be intentional, and it will be as a joke. I hope,