Album: Stormy Weather
. . .
On July 27, 1980, Craig from across the street and I hopped into his blue Volkswagen Beetle — the “Cannonball” — and drove up to the Alameda County Coliseum Stadium in Oakland to see on of Bill Graham Presents “Day on the Green” concerts, which was a thing that happened a few times a year back then.
On that day, we saw Shakin Street, Molly Hatchet, Cheap Trick, and Black Sabbath (with Ronnie James Dio), and then got back in his Beetle and headed back home before the headliner could take the stage. That headliner, Journey, of course, whom we both despised. It was only the second time I’d been out of Fresno for a concert — the first time being The Who just a month before — so all of it was new to me, and I don’t even think I had a drink, much less weed or anything else.
Which I think accounted for my astonishment at the fact that there was a guy on the other side of a row of seats who basically slept through the whole thing. And now I look back, and there is no doubt in my mind that that guy was in the middle of a Sammy Hagar weekend.
Well, it’s a Sammy Hagar weekend
It’s a Sammy Hagar state of mind
It’s a Sammy Hagar weekend
It’s a Sammy Hagar way of life
Now, my first exposure to Sammy Hagar was, of course, on the first Montrose album, as essential of a piece of American hard rock as the mid-1970’s produced featuring jams like “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Space Station #5.” Which is why every time we pass the Montrose exit on the 210, I make the devil horns and yell out “Mon-troooose” in my fake metal voice, totally annoying Rox. Anyways, Montrose broke up after their second album, and Sammy Hagar went solo, and soon enough, his songs started showing up on the radio: things like “I’ve Done Everything For You,” (a later hit for Rick Springfield), “Plain Jane” and “I’ll Fall in Love Again” were songs I listened to while waiting for something I liked a lot more to show up.
Then he put out the punk-fearing “There’s Only One Way to Rock,” a song I hated with the passion of 1000 white-hot suns. Fuck that song, even now. I’m literally listening to it on YouTube right this second wondering if it’s the wrongest song ever or the stupidest song ever. The answer, of course, remains “both.” After that, I had no use for Sammy Hagar, and even if I agreed with him about the national speed limit — I was in my 20s, I wasn’t driving under 55 either — the fact that he replaced my beloved David Lee Roth in Van Halen and they got even bigger, well fuck that.
All of which is to say that I wasn’t quite sure what to make of “Sammy Hagar Weekend” when it came out in 1989. At that point, of course, I was still deep into my alt-rock hipster douchebaggery, basically rejecting pretty much everything that came down from the mainstream, and still treating my hard-rock teenage years as a phase more than a foundation. Though not entirely: Scott & I saw Aerosmith in 1988 — scandalizing many of our friends — and Zeppelin & Sabbath (and Deep Purple) still reigned eternal, because they were Zeppelin & Sabbath (and Deep Purple).
We’re gonna drink some beer
Smoke some pot
Snort some coke
And then drive, drive over 55, yeah
‘Cause it’s a Sammy Hagar weekend
It’s a big man’s day
The thing about “Sammy Hagar Weekend” is that it starts off like a perfectly proper alt-rock song, and as it progresses it gets bigger and metaler as it goes one, and at some point it crosses the line from satire & parody to sincerity & fuck it this is too much fun let’s go for it. Like the poet J. Neo said, the first time you play “Free Bird” it’s a joke, but it will be a tribute before you’re through.
We got a Metallica T-shirt
Got a little tiny baby mustache
Got a jacked-up Camaro
We’re sittin’ in the parking lot at Anaheim Stadium
After the second chorus, there is a perfectly-executed triplets over and over and over and over and over guitar solo, and after that all hell breaks loose, Bob Forrest screaming “Sammy Hagar weekend” as about thousand guitar solos poke through, with the whole thing crashing into backwards drum beats because why not.
In an interview in The Big Takeover, Bob Forrest talks about how Sammy Hagar at first didn’t like it, but came around on it after Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers set him right. Me, I still don’t care all that much for Sammy Hagar, but I love “Sammy Hagar Weekend.”
“Sammy Hagar Weekend”
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