Sunday, September 28, 2008


An uneventful day leads to a night on the prairie with Van Halen. After rejecting a couple other bootleg recordings due to poor quality, I chose the high quality recording Bazooka in Action. January 27, 1995, Luxor, Arnhem in Holland. As vhboots correctly notes "This is a great soundboard recording of the balance tour before it started. Once again it is the same as Secret Gig. It is a plain generic production unlike the KTS Secret Gig disc. Overall, it is a small set list, but excellent Balance Tour addition to your collection."

You can tell that both the band and crowd are pumped for this impromptu show at some small venue. The boys are performing at their best and Sammy clearly has fun with the audience, promising their return later in the year. Sammy says "Well I guess you all know we're comin' back to do the outdoor show and all that. We are gonna fuckin' be onstage for a full show, on a stage in front of like seventy thou, like forty thousand people, whatever. And if those people are one tenth as loud as you people, we'll never hear again. You people will blow our fuckin' ears out."

Flush with tequila
Standing on top of the world
Nothing brings him down

Hearts filled with passion
Have something each of them need
Ain't talkin bout love

To a fevered pitch
Shouting, cheering and stomping
The crowd begs for more

Feels so beautiful
Wants it to last forever
Knows it never can

Lives for the moment
Tomorrow is far away
Time stops for no one

Lost in the music
His guitar a diversion
Relief from life's pain

Saturday, September 27, 2008


A sad week in that the woman who I had hoped to see while in New York died of her pancreatic cancer within a week of my return to Denver. It is perhaps fortunate that she passed away because she was suffering terribly, both physically and mentally, from the disease, her physical condition rapidly deteriorating. Many, many people were sad to see her go.

What made her so special to me was that she was the first woman friend I had who was not associated in some way with the family. I'd visit with her and her family often during the summer of 1979, the bonds of friendship growing, introducing me to her best friend whom I dated for a couple years. As is often the case in life, we grow up and follow different paths in life, mine taking me out west and away from friends I had back home in New York. I will remember her forever, the picture in my mind coming from those fun-filled summer days in 1979, a bunch of which were also spent at Smith's Point beach. My world has grown a little bit smaller with her departure.

An everyday life
Interrupted by the news
It's never the same

Lying there in bed
A bright moon's light filters in
Seen for the last time

Life held by a thread
Cut free with the final breath
Soul released its grip

Death of an old friend
Young, joyous lives intertwined
Piece of him is gone

The final exhale
Spirit departs to the heavens
Leaves our tears behind

Tired eyes have closed
Pain and suffering over
Time has come to sleep

The last breath escapes
An emptiness in his heart
Fills it with warm tears

A soul departed
Ponder the starry heavens
Streaks across the sky

Death in its black robe
Sharp scythe in its bony hands
Stands besides us all

I wanted this night's show to be special so I chose one from the 1998 Van Halen III tour with Gary Cherone in the lead. October 23, 1998 at Castle Hall in Osaka, Japan. I especially love the mournful Year To The Day / Eddie's Solo combo, the two beautifully interwoven into a seamless song. This 2 CD set is an outstanding audience recording with minimal crowd noise, allowing the band to dominate the recording. The individual that recorded this was seated in just the right area because you can hear every word Gary says to the audience without any distortion.

The III tour shows are a great mix of new songs, Sammy era songs and DLR era songs. Unfortunately Gary's voice has a fairly limited range, leading to a somewhat monochromatic stage sound. This may be one reason why he did not get a second opportunity to make an album with Van Halen. Even with this limitation, I still like the 1998 shows because Eddie's playing is hot, probably because his drinking was under control and he was sober. Speaking about the past and the present, Eddie said "I was in a different place. I was in a bottle. I wasn't clear. I have a glass of wine every now and then, but I don't get fucking hammered like I used to. I don't have the reasons that I used to."
The sound is long gone
Many year to the day pass
Seems like yesterday

A sound so soothing
Enter the souls cathedral
He is the maestro

Babe in a hot rod
Shows us sexy style and ease
Coming home with me

He's a magician
Quick movements of Eddie's hands
Hearts are swept away

Sunday, September 21, 2008


When I went outside to prepare for my trip to the prairie, I learned that it was raining lightly under overcast skies. A change of plan was needed. I pulled out the portable CD player, earphones and sat under the overhang outside the front door. After last nights booze fest, I went real lite on the tequila, just enough to add to the concert experience.

This nights concert took place at The Paradiso in Amsterdam on May 6, 1978. An excellent audience recording from their first world tour. Dave comments on the fact that its his first trip to Amsterdam, a return trip for the Van Halen brothers. This is classic Van Halen, the band sounding really tight. That's probably because they were just beginning their rise with the release of their first album and they were "hunger" for more fame, making them play at their best. By the time they make it to 1984 they are already on the top, feel invincible and it shows in their performance, which is often sloppy and tired sounding, especially Dave's singing. The '78 show was a great performance that makes me appreciate the work of DLR to boost the band to fame.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


The vacation comes to an end. I had brunch with a friend who reported that our scheduled visit with another friend suffering with cancer was not to happen due to her recent hospitalization. The news was very grim. It probably was my only opportunity to see her ever again.

Our last day on the beach was spent dodging the big waves that were crashing on the shore. They built up during the course of the day and were coming in such that even riding them proved to be difficult, unless you didn't mind getting ground into the sand. A few such crashes and my bum shoulder experienced a twinge of pain. Stayed until sunset (the sun falling behind the dunes), at which time we witnessed the rise of a full moon out of the sea. Greasy pizza that night!

The following day we returned to Denver. We were able to get in a couple hours at the beach. A gray, mournful morning with the waves having completely vanished. Got a ride to the airport with a limo driver who spoke endlessly about his mail order bride in the Philippines that he was going to visit later in the month. Wished he spent more time paying attention to the road and not his cell phone. The flight back was uneventful.

Drifting row by row
Ragged clouds on the deep blue
Dark shadows on the sea

Deep ocean rollers
Rise as they cross the shoal
Explode on the sand
Wall of foam flecked green
Rises high and rolls over
Pounds shells and gravel
Black neoprene dots
Sit beyond the breaking surf
Wait for the big ones
The pain of deaths grip
Makes it feel like forever
While time slips away
Medicines failed cure
Bedridden and just waiting
An end too certain

Mind so crystal clear
Abandoned by the body
Ghost in the mirror
Farewells have been said
Limo to LaGuardia
Exits through Gate B
Cool morning sea air
Stood in gently lapping surf
Distant memory
Although I returned to "reality" after a week of relaxing vacation, that did not mean I was denied the opportunity to plunge back into a tequila induced fantasy. Friday night found me back on the prairie, truck door swung wide open and loud music playing. I was in the mood for more 1995, picking "Random Shot", a soundboard recording of Van Halen playing in Pensacola, Florida on March 11, 1995. A great recording that shows the band at their best. Earlier in the evening I was downloading their 1984 Montreal concert with David Lee Roth. Listening to this DLR era recording emphasized how good Sammy was when compared to the original front man. I can understand why Eddie and Alex were ready for something new when they let Dave go in early 1985, re-energizing the band with new vocals the following year.

Although I stuck to my single flask of tequila, consuming it all really messed me up this evening. Got home at midnight and just fell in bed with my cloths on and went to sleep.
Hands at lightning speed
Eddie makes his guitar sing
Thunder to the crowd

Play Where Eagles Fly
Soft melody prepares us
Strike with Ed's hammer

Weekend has arrived
Cigar, tequila, CD
Friday night fuck up

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The vacation continues. Drive out to visit the whaling museum and shops in Sag Harbor, the nature center just north of Bridgehampton and Shinacock Inlet on Fire Island. A long day trip to New York City. Visited the Empire State Building, standing in endless lines to get through security, buy tickets and get to an elevator to reach the 80th floor where they allowed us the option of walking the remaining flights up to the observation deck on the 86th floor. A show at the Hayden Planetarium. Visiting every exhibit in the Museum of Natural History. A leisurely dinner at Stouts, NYC, where they served delicious beers. Bought a cigar in a cubby hole shop and smoked it outside Madison Square Garden, enjoying the people and lights. A long trip back by train to return home for the evening. And naturally, more beach time to lounge on the sand and play in the water. Got to taste greasy New York style pizza and eat more Carvel ice cream.

"Keep the line moving!"
Miles of post and rope, waiting
Like cattle, obey

Rain drenched pavement
Puddles reflect city lights
Cool night air washed clean

Water on the tracks
Hot wind marks the trains advance
Floors coated with grime

People stand waiting
Sweat in stifling hot air
Loud sounds fill the ears

They move to and fro
Many, with separate lives
"He's out to get me"

Busy city street
A multitude of stories
Lives walk right on by

Wave crests rushing by
Flashing the late days sunlight
Curling, then it roars

Green wall approaching
Shoot over peaking waves crest
Glimpse of those to come

Shock of the first plunge
Bathed in a sea so alive
Waves of dancing light

A person so small
Dances in unceasing waves
His turn to come next

The spirit hangs on
When the body says let go
The tears are flowing
Sitting on the sandy beach of Lake Panamoka at 10 PM, I took a swig of tequila, lit the cigar and popped in the first disc of a two CD bootleg recording taped during Van Halen's show at the Yokohama Arena in Japan on November 2, 1998. This was the second to last show Gary Cherone played while employed by the band, the last on the Japan leg of the tour. A decent audience recording, with a lot of clapping from the audience in the foreground, particularly early in the show. Considering how many of the songs they played from the VH I and VH II eras, I was struck by how this show felt like a "reunion" concert, a preview of Van Halen's real reunion tours that came next in 2004 and 2007/2008. Little rapping with the audience, burn through the set list. But it was still an enjoyable experience, my favorite part being the Year To The Day/ Eddie's Guitar Solo combo.
Plucked from distant lands
Dragged across a continent
Sand through my fingers

Sound of perfection
Delicate movement of hands
Master of the strings

Fingers so nimble
A master of the guitar
Ed blows fans away


More days on the beach and sightseeing around the Island. One lazy day of relaxing turns into another. The surf moderated to the degree that riding waves was fun and safe. Knowledge that a friend is dieing. Time with my sisters. And of course, time with Van Halen.
The deep blue sparkles
Sun's reflected points of light
Countless waves marching in

Sun flecked ocean blue
Surface churning, crossed by waves
Rides the breaking crest

Dark clouds race above
The sea a menacing gray
The surf is untouched

The long green wall nears
Push into the curling spray
Rush of sandy foam

Youths bonds of friendship
Years of independence pass
Time to say goodbye

Thursday night's concert took place during the Right Here, Right Now Tour in Paris, France on April 21, 1993, the first of two nights at Le Zenith. This tour followed their release of the live concert album of the same name. The Paris show was a good audience bootleg recording. I was rock'in on the shore of Lake Panamoka for a couple of hours.

According to the Van Halen Encyclopedia, the following occurred during this tour: "Before an outdoor show in Boston, a Junebug managed to lodge itself in one of Eddie's ears, nearly damaging his eardrum. While staying at the Four Seasons Hotel, the guitarist awoke several times throughout the night experiencing excruciating pain. Not knowing just what may be in his ear, Ed sprayed saline solution into the ear canal, and after whacking himself in the head several times, the one-inch insect fell out into the sink."