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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why the Daleks Don’t Like Van Halen: Part 2

Some day, I'd like to visit the Royal Albert Hall.
Perhaps for a concert by Van Halen?

It’s fitting that we never hear music played in the first Doctor story “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.”  Those humans who have survived the Dalek bombardment, and thus far managed to evade capture, join the resistance movement.  Yet no one smiles or laughs: the Daleks have driven all joy from their lives.  When their attack on the Dalek spaceport fails, Barbara and Jenny push Dorman’s wheelchair through London in a mad dash to escape the city.  They travel across Westminster Bridge and through Trafalgar Square.  One of the buildings that lay in their path is the Royal Albert Hall.  Barbara, Jenny, and Dortman skirt the far side of the royal Hall to avoid the Daleks surrounding the Prince Albert Memorial. 

I don’t know if Van Halen has ever played at the Royal Albert Hall.  I don’t know that they ever will.  Yet the concert hall has hosted similar rock music acts, and continues to do so.  And it is this building, built to commemorate a prince who promoted the arts, that helps them survive.  While these soulless aliens have robbed the humans of everything that lightened their spirits, two members of this desperate human trio will ultimately go on to defeat the Daleks.  I find a delicious irony in that.

With the release of "A Different Kind of Truth,"
Van Halen (and my life) come full circle.

Since we’ve returned from England, the original lineup of Van Halen, apart from Michael Anthony, has reunited and released a new album.  I’ll admit it: I wondered if they could create the same magic they had once found together.  I needn’t have worried.  Their new songs resonate in me today, just as fully as the ones they recorded in the 1970s and 80s.  I had not realized I had missed them so.  The original lineup’s breakup had left a void inside me.  Perhaps it had even ceased to ache.  More likely, their absence had been covered over by all the other little knocks we receive, from so many sources, over the decades.  But now, hearing their distinctive sound, energy and thoughts again, I am torn.  Part of me aches at what has been lost: all the great music these incredibly talented men could have created, had they stayed together.  But another part of me rejoices.  For they have returned and filled the void inside me. 

New songs such as “Tattoo,” “China Town,” and “Stay Frosty” merge with older favorites like “Jaime’s Cryin’,” “Dance the Night Away,” and ”Pretty Woman.”  In doing so, they have inscribed themselves into the soundtrack of my life. 

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