Sammy Hagar Says This Song Is One of His Greatest Collaborations With Eddie Van Halen
For him, it all hinges on the chorus and "that iconic piano part" — written by Eddie, of course. "It was in the bag," Hagar recalled before joking, "The song would have been great if I sang about cat food."
So which Van Halen song is it?
It's "Right Now," from Van Halen's ninth studio album, 1992's For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, their third with Hagar as lead vocalist.
Last week (March 3), Hagar told Guitar Player that "Right Now" represents "a really great example of how Eddie Van Halen and I could collaborate. He had it musically, and I had it lyrically."
He continued, "It's a song that's had some real resonance. Sometimes you're able to write a song that expresses how you feel, and it strikes a nerve with other people and they say, 'Yes. That's exactly how I feel, too.' For a songwriter, that's an incredible response."
The tune certainly made an impact, and it became a cultural touchstone with its inclusions in Crystal Pepsi ads and as a campaign anthem for politicians. It hit No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1992.
But looking back on the initial writing sessions for the song, Hagar remembered, "We tried to get it going, but nothing felt right. We just sort of left it, and he played me something else, and that became [the album's opening track] 'Poundcake.'"
Yet, oddly, it might have been procrastination that led to the ultimate lyrical creation of "Right Now." That's because Hagar didn't want to leave the beach.
"It was such a beautiful day," he said, "and I thought to myself, I don't want to go anywhere else. I just want to be right here, right now."
Alas, "Eddie kept playing me the piano part," the singer illustrated. "I heard him play it probably 100 times. Then one day I started singing to it, and I had it. Everything fit and made sense. The lyrics came to me, and I told Eddie, 'This thing's written. Let's record.'"
Hagar would go on to make only one more album with Van Halen, 1995's Balance, before parting ways with them the next year. He reunited with the act in 2003 for two years. After Eddie's death at age 65, however, Hagar is skeptical about issuing unreleased Van Halen material with his contributions.
Two years ago, Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie's son, said it would be "a while" before he went through his father's vault, as Ultimate Classic Rock reported. "I can't put a timeline on it," he said then. "Not in the immediate future would we be going through it."