Hi, I’m Matt. Welcome to Steady Beats, a newsletter about chasing the good life at midlife: exercise, education, and eighties music.
And: Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!
It’s week 7 of 12 in my experiment switching from 3 upper body strength training sessions to two per week. Still picking up reps and weight each session on numerous lifts after months of stagnation:
This isn’t an experiment anymore. I’m not going back to three sessions. Recovery time is really important as we age. Who knew? (Many, many people other than me, evidently.)
I’ll Wait by Van Halen
When I was 11, I wanted to be David Lee Roth.
The charisma, the athleticism of his onstage martial arts moves, the stunningly irrational and unflappable self-belief. All traits grade-school me wanted, and lacked, in spades. I mean, the number of quotes on this one page …
By the way: The quotes in this article from an exasperated Sheriff Floyd Tidwell has me thinking.
I would absolutely watch a Dukes of Hazzard style show about Van Halen tormenting Sheriff Floyd and his sidekick hound dog each week.
Picture it. David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen’s 1969 Dodge Charger getaway car is painted like Eddie’s famous Frankenstrat guitar. Bassist Michael Anthony plays the role of Cooter, keeping the car running each week so Dave and Eddie can escape the law after their hijinks.
Each week, Sheriff Floyd would fume in the duo’s cloud of red dirt dust, as permed hair and handkerchief accoutrements flapped defiantly in the heavy Georgia air.
Imagine David Lee Roth scissor-kicking his way through the open window of the car as he and Eddie scramble to outrun Sheriff Floyd each week. It would have been magical.
It totally would have worked.
I wanted to be David Lee Roth but settled for inserting Van Halen’s “1984” cassette into my Sanyo boombox. “I’ll Wait,” the second single released off the album, is underrated—even if Chuck Klosterman disagrees in his ranking of all Van Halen songs:
Mammoth drums, mammoth synth, not much verve or panache.
The forty-third best Van Halen song? Come on, Chuck.
In any case, I’ll Wait eventually peaked at 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 US chart, but almost didn’t make it onto the record at all.
The band had the basic track down, but struggled with the melody and lyrics. Who, in the mid 1980s, did you call when your song needs fixing?
Michael McDonald, of course.
Michael sang backup on 48% of all 1980s hits (you can look it up). But Mac’s mighty golden baritone was not the salve needed for I’ll Wait. No. What was required was his unflappable instinct for writing hit songs.
Van Halen’s producer, Ted Templeman, signaled McDonald in from the bullpen. Michael Mac cleaned up the song, ran it by Roth, and the rest is history:
“Those guys sold so many records, for my 1/5 of the share of the record, I probably made more money from that song than I made from all the Doobie songs up to that point. They were selling crazy amounts of records.”
Honestly, the lyrics have a bit of a stalker-esque, “Centerfold” vibe, but worse. Unlike the J. Geils Band hit, the storyteller in I’ll Wait doesn’t have a past connection to the woman in the magazine photo he’s singing to. He’s just kind of obsessed.
Are you for real, it's so hard to tell
From just a magazine
Yeah, you just smile and the picture sells
Look what that does to me
That aside, I’ll Wait has great synth and a hard-driving beat that proved a worthy successor to the stratospheric hit Jump.
It would sound great through the stereo speakers of a ‘69 Dodge Charger, barreling down the back roads of Hazzard County. I’m sure of it.
Thank you for reading.
Honestly, this newsletter feels like it’s getting a bit weirder, and more fun to write, each week. Let’s keep the Steady Beats going. 💚
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