Saturday, November 1, 2008


The uneventfully week ended on Halloween, one of my favorite days in that dark facets of my personality are unchained and allowed to emerge for the public to see. The days of dressing up and going to late night parties are long gone. Instead I join others who bravely dress up to inject bizarre yet fun moments into the boringly normally business environment of the office. I'm fortunate that management is tolerant of this behavior. I did find it difficult to sit down and have serious conversations with other staff who had not dressed up for the occasion. I suspect the people sitting opposite me could say the same while having to look at the odd character I had become.

Knowing that I'd be playing a 2007 tour bootleg Saturday night, I chose a Van Halen III era recording for Friday night. The bootleg selected was recorded on May 24, 1998 at the CoreStates Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia honored the band's 22nd career performance there by declaring May 24 "Van Halen Day." All four members of the band received miniature replicas of the Liberty Bell.

This particular show was a fantastic recording that would be hard to beat. I suspect it was taped from a soundboard, with Gary's vocals and Eddie's guitar pushed up in the mix. I don't exactly know what it is about the 1998 shows that I love, but I think it's because a sober Eddie is playing some of the best guitar in his career. It's awe inspiring! Gary's vocals are good but are no match for Eddie's guitar. I had a rocking time this mild night out on the prairie, a cool wind blowing out of the south.

Ian Christe in his book The Van Halen Saga writes:
Eddie began mentioning a higher power for the first time in relation to his musical gifts. "I don't mean to get deep on you, but there's some force out there, and for me to come up with the whole thing in ten minutes - it was just given to me. Anyone who thinks that they're responsible for something like that can kiss my ass. God just picked me to do this. And you try to keep your chops up so whatever he gives you, you can execute."

Ever present wind
Blowing gently in his face
Breaths deeply nights air

Crowd breaks out in cheer
They know who the master is
Call in unison

Young gifted genius
Learns to play the piano
Masters the guitar

Spanning three decades
Fingers make the guitar sing
Still the reigning king

A sound so unique
Hammering the guitar's strings
Know when he's on stage

A wave of the hand
A temperamental god
Chooses what he shares

Plays oh so sweetly
He excites the audience
There can only be one

Years keeping the groove
Standing beside the giants
Lost in their shadows

He's ten years too late
Notes that can never be replayed
Saved by the downloads

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