Monday, June 14, 2010

Right Now by Van Halen

[conversation between me (K) and the person I was sitting next to at a recent wedding reception (J)]

J – So do you think the introduction of the bridal party will be edgy or classy? K – Well, let’s check out the music and see.
J – Wait a second, what song is this?
K- RIGHT NOW BY VAN HALEN!!!! They are definitely going edgy . . .
 J – Woah, since when was Van Halen edgy?
K – um . . . ever since David Lee Roth left the group and Hagar joined.

Okay, I’m not going to get into the great “David Lee Roth vs. Sammy Hagar” debate. There are songs by Van Halen with both of these lead singers that I like a lot. The thing is that my favorite song by Van Halen with Hagar “Right Now" . . . 

is a little bit more edgy than my favorite David Lee Roth Van Halen hit “Jump.”

“Jump” along with many other earlier Van Halen works that deserve their own examinations as they are currently on my blog to do list, however right now we are going to take a look at Hagar’s most memorable contribution to the group.

Released in 1992, “Right Now” is both a commentary on modern life and a celebration of the life. The verse with a darker, more minor harmonies questions the way that we approach our lives. The first verse questions to us “why put it off another day?” urging us to embrace life to the fullest immediately while the second verse comments on the way that commercialism motivates us “the more things you get the more you want.” At the end of the end of each verse Hagar implores us to “turn this thing around,” to change the way we are viewing life and live life for the moment, right now.

The chorus opens up to an anthem, with a major tonality and a call and response form.  As the band and the crowd sings “right now,” the response calls “it’s your tomorrow . . . it’s everything . . . catch that magic moment.”  This beautifully designed chorus quickly involves the audience and provides exactly what this song is talking about. Van Halen is encouraging us to stay in the moment and embrace life and through music "Right Now" let’s us do just that.

When you’re rocking out to the chorus of this song don’t think about the verses or what’s coming up, just rock out in the moment. It’s the best way to enjoy this song that let’s you do exactly what Hagar preaches.

While Van Halen is known for Eddie’s simply ridiculous guitar playing, the keyboard work immediately takes center stage in this song. The piano line demonstrates that the piano is truly a percussion instrument (musical instruments are classified by how sound is produced and the piano strings are struck by a hammer like a drum). Not only is harmony produced but a rocking and vicious groove that provides a sense of urgency in the verse and celebratory euphoria in the chorus.

I’m someone who spends a lot of time reflecting on the past (duh . . . have you READ this blog?) and I often take the whole “always be prepared” a little far.” The thing that I sometimes forget and is that we think about the past and the future as a means to have a better present. If we do not all this planning but don’t let ourselves enjoy the moments in our lives than we’re kind of missing the point.

“Turn that thing around. What are you waiting for?”

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