Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Just Like Paradise"

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Friday, July 26, 2013
70s
80s
Van Halen
David Lee Roth
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Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Just Like Paradise"

Who knows why David Lee Roth left Van Halen?

Somehow, back then, Dave seemed to think he was bigger than the group, he STILL believes he's bigger than the group!

And the EP seemed like a lark, with the covers of "California Girls" and "Just A Gigolo" and their incessantly aired cheeky videos.

But then he had to do originals, he had to do an album, and if you don't think "Eat 'Em and Smile" is a disappointment...you never heard anything before. "Yankee Rose"? Imitation Van Halen, without the special sauce. And the follow-up, "Skyscraper," was even worse, despite the continued inclusion of all star players like Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan, who left the band shortly thereafter. Like I said, Dave's hard to get along with, his ego can barely be contained by the room. But an even bigger problem with this incarnation was...lack of songwriting chops. Oh, Dave's great with words, but someone's got to write the melodies and riffs, and as great a player as Steve Vai is...writing is not his forte. But having said all that, I love, love, LOVE "Just Like Paradise"!

Huh?

Oh, believe me, by this point I'd given up on Dave, my allegiance was to Eddie. And after hearing "Yankee Rose," there was no way I was going to buy the LP. But then suddenly this video appeared on MTV of Dave mountain climbing and prancing and posturing on stage with his band and I was hooked!

Not that it had anything to do with the video, that was just extra sauce. You see the song, "Just Like Paradise," is the essence of rock and roll.

Oh, talk about energy and attitude, say you've got to strip it down, it's got to be punk, but the greats are much more than that, they've got enthusiasm, they blast you beyond the humdrum to the very best night of your life. You remember that? Vividly, I'm sure. The essence of being alive... "Just Like Paradise" SOUNDS LIKE THAT!

That's what we're looking for every night...

"This must be just like living in paradise And I don't want to go home!"

Oh, it starts with quiet thunder, and then Vai provides lightning, and you get an instrumental rendering of the chorus and Dave starts to sing...

And I'd quote the words, but you know them, they're typical Dave, girls, cars and...

Then you get the pre-chorus.

"Girl, we've been meant for this
Since we were born
No problems now (the coast is clear)
It's just the calm before the storm"

It's like cresting the roller coaster peak, it's the moment of ecstasy before you come, and then...it's pure release!

"This must be just like living in paradise And I don't want to go home!"

Come on, throw off your inhibitions, embrace your memories, your fantasies, COME ALIVE!

That's what MTV was...alive, even in the middle of the night, but mostly in the afternoon, when you saw Dave hanging on that mountain...you told yourself...I WANT ME SOME OF THAT!

Yes, we all want to embrace life, live it to its limits, and when rock is done right, it inspires us to do so.

And at this point, you might think Dave is a joke, and he's over the top in the video. But he's winking at the camera all the while, if you're living in the midwest you're ready to line up backstage for your opportunity. As for the guys...this music makes you feel powerful, it emboldens you to take a chance!

And there's every cliche but the kitchen sink in this video. All the posing, all the jumping, all the stuff you can't get away with today...but this was the original hedonistic era, when sex was still free and everybody had not gone to rehab for cocaine. Come on, if you don't smile when they walk the deck, swaggering at 3:50 in the clip, you're not alive. It's Bon Jovi, but with roots and a sense of humor.

And MTV was so powerful that "Just Like Paradise" went to number six on the pop chart, that's how infectious it was.

And I've not only never burned out on it, it still inspires me to this day.

And what more could you ask for from rock and roll!