Album: Women and Children First
In was 1985, and I was seeing a matinee (probably ditching class) of Better Off Dead, a teen comedy starring John Cusak as a guy who was suicidal after a breakup, and who kept failing to kill himself in a variety of funny ways, the impetus for a film that was an hour of dark comic genius followed by a half-hour of Hollywood ending. (And spawned the “I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS” meme that probably nobody remembered until I just now reminded them of it.)
There were two things I remember from that actual showing: 1) that the audience laughed hardest a a joke that had been in the trailer (“Now that’s a real shame when folks be throwing away a perfectly good white boy like that.”) and 2) the sequence involving Cusak’s character imagining a claymation hamburger playing an Eddie Van Halen guitar to what is Van Halen’s horniest, thirstiest song, “Everybody Wants Some!”
It was silly as fuck, of course, but it reminded me in the deepest part of my lizard brain that even while I was at my alt-rockiest, I just love this dumb-ass song. And I’ve never stopped.
Lyrically, “Everybody Wants Some!” is a deeply stupid song: all of the entendres are single, or maybe even half, and hell, outside of the chorus — which they repeat approximately 7,366,884 times — pretty much unintelligible. I mean in the second verse, Roth literally sings “ah seek ah mookoo laga looka for a moopy” and it wasn’t until this morning when I looked at the lyrics on Genius that I even knew that there were supposed to be real words there. Because it just doesn’t matter. All that matters is the volumes of attitude and the utterly insane rhythm guitar. And that’s why “Everybody Wants Some!” also happens to be my favorite Van Halen song. Because the utter genius that is Eddie Van Halen’s rhythm guitar playing turns it into a transcendent thirst song.
Indeed, sirs, you are correct: everybody does want some! (Unless they don’t, of course, and that’s OK too.)
Opening with a tom-filled beat by Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth’s screaming over some feedback, suddenly out of nowhere, Eddie (with Michael Anthony for support) comes swooping — wham! wham! ………. wham!wham! And it’s the infinite space between the second and third whams that makes it so amazing. After a little while, he comes in with the main riff, and it’s a doozy, like a fucking mountain moving towards you and featuring the usual EVH trick where the second half of the riff is answering the first.
He backs off during the verses, providing screeches and squirps and sqourches around whatever it is that Roth is singing, then piledriving back into the main riff as they sing “everybody wants some! / I want some too!” while Alex and Michael Anthony effortlessly swing back into the main beat.
After the second chorus, it’s solo time! And after double-time go round with Alex, Eddie kicks out a solo that climbs on the back of his riff and dances openly and joyously on top of it, all the while shooting rounds of artillery in the air.
Then of course, there’s the breakdown, which is basically a repeat of the opening, but of course David Lee Roth needs to get a sex rap in there, because he’s David Lee Roth. And it is awesome. Not the rap itself, but the fuck up at the beginning.
Basically Roth is supposed to work the rap around the rhythm guitar, but he doesn’t quite have timing down.
So when he starts with “I like–“, he’s totally cut off by Eddies “wham! wham! . . . . . wham!wham!” and he just stops dead. Maybe the only time ever anybody got David Lee Roth to shut up. And they left it in! I love that they left it in. Kids, leave in the mistakes. (We have a song on our album where I missed a cymbal crash after one chorus and dropped a drumstick after the second.)
In any event, Roth rights himself almost immediately and squeezes the rest of his rap in between Eddie’s thunder.
After that, it’s just a lot of shouting about how everybody wants some and needs some and how that includes Roth — who is also screaming his patented screams — and at some point Alex starts double-timing, and Michael Anthony is playing disco basslines, until the whole just collapses underneath its own delirium. Whereupon, at the fade, Roth provides the spoken-word kicker: “Look, I’ll pay you for it. What the fuck.”
Which is the kind of piss-taking I always loved about David Lee Roth.
“Everybody Wants Some!” was the b-side of “And The Cradle Will Rock…” but I’m pretty sure it was an instant FM staple, and it was clearly a song that was utterly made for live performances. Sheer stupid genius. Which is pretty much my favorite kind.
“Everybody Wants Some!”
“Everybody Wants Some” live at the US Festival, 1983
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