Right Now (Van Halen song)
|Single by Van Halen|
|from the album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge|
|Released||February 15, 1992|
|Recorded||March 1990 - April 1991 at 5150 Studios, Hollywood, CA|
|Van Halen singles chronology|
"Right Now" is a rock song written by the group Van Halen for their album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. The song reflects on living for the moment and not being afraid of making a change. Vocalist Sammy Hagar has said that he was writing the lyrics to this song at the studio very late one night, and he heard Eddie Van Halen in an adjacent room working on a piano melody. Hagar said he suddenly realized that "we were writing the same song," so he walked into the room and began singing his words over Van Halen's music. This story is debatable since a version of the melody appears in the 1984 movie The Wild Life which was scored by Eddie Van Halen.
Hagar says the lyrics for "Right Now" were the best he ever wrote for a Van Halen song. "I was tired of writing cheap sex songs," he recalled almost two decades later. "Eddie and I wanted to get serious and talk about world issues." He was one of the few not impressed with the song's music video, since he felt it took attention away from the song. It won Video of the Year at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, and served as the basis for a soda commercial. Different edits of the video have been used to make more explicitly political statements in later years.
The music video (directed by Mark Fenske and produced by Carolyn Beug) reflected on events that were occurring at the time, both within the band and social issues in the world around them. It used big block letters to display sentences such as "right now, people are having unprotected sex" and "right now, someone is working too hard for minimum wage", to describe the footage in the background. This concept was used previously in videos like Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise".
Hagar was opposed to the video's concept when it was first explained to him. He stated: "People ain't even going to be listening to what I'm saying because they'll be reading these subtitles". Despite Warner chairman Mo Ostin phoning him stating that it would be the biggest music video in the group's career, he was still so angry that he disappeared to South Carolina for a week with his then-girlfriend.
During the actual filming, he contracted pneumonia and was suffering from a fever, which intensified his anger over the video. Fenske says he did not notice, but allows that he was nervous and busy since it was the first video he had directed and he had many other things to pay attention to. According to Hagar, the scene where he folds his arms and refuses to sing, and the end of the video where he slams the dressing room door were not staged - he was genuinely angry.
"For the idea of the girl setting fire to a guy's photo", Fenske recalls, "I had a photo of me at 24 that I didn't mind burning." He says everyone in the video was either a crew member or band member, save one - his mother. He brought her to the Video Music Awards as his date.
The video won three awards at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, including the award for Video of the Year. Bassist Michael Anthony said in a 2011 book that he thought it was the best video Van Halen had ever done. Hagar was still disappointed with the result despite the accolades it received. "I don't think it's enough about the band." However Hagar would later reuse the video concept and the "right now" lyric for the title track of his 2008 solo album Cosmic Universal Fashion
It was later used in Crystal Pepsi commercials between 1992 and 1993, but not without enraging many longtime Van Halen fans. Eddie said that he accepted to license the song to PepsiCo because he knew that if he did not, the company would hire studio musicians to record a cover.
The song is used as the soundtrack for the Drop Tower: Scream Zone ride at the Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio. Notably, the ride drops immediately upon the start of the chorus. It was also used as the intro for The Mike Gallagher Show from 2001-2003 following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC.
The song has also been used a number of times by U.S. political candidates. On August 29, 2008 during a campaign rally in Ohio, after Senator John McCain's announcement of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate and her remarks, this song was played over the sound system. Band members reportedly disagreed about its use at the McCain rally—Alex and Eddie Van Halen (both of whom backed Barack Obama for president) issued a statement saying "Permission was not sought or granted nor would it have been given." Hagar, although he didn't specifically endorse McCain, said that he personally did not have any problem with the McCain campaign's use of the song, insisting that no matter which candidate used the song, the lyrics still had the same meaning.
The band has also used the song for political statements. Although Van Halen vocalist Sammy Hagar was a financial supporter of President George W. Bush in his 2004 re-election campaign, during the 2004 reunion tour, the band projected the "Right Now" music video, with a few extra modern scenes, on a large screen behind them while they performed the song. Some new modern scenes were, "Right now, someone is driving too fast for the last time" and "Right now, a 13-year-old is illegally downloading this song." Another of the updates was a new image of the U.S. President, George W. Bush, accompanied by the caption "Right now, nothing is more expensive than regret."
- Marks, Craig; Tannenbaum, Rob (2011). I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. New York, NY: Dutton. pp. 517–19. ISBN 978-0-525-95230-5.
- "Chuck Berry - "Roll over Beethoven"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
- Posted 6/17/91. "Right Now | Van Halen | Music Video". MTV. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
- “Cosmic Universal Fashion” – the new video from Sammy & Michael
- "football - Articles, Video and Image Galleries - UGO.com". Football.ugo.com. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
- "Crystal Pepsi ...Excuse me?! | Article". Retrojunk.com. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
- Eddie Van Halen: Prime Cuts
- MSNBC, video. Plays right after speech.
- By Nicole Frehsee (2008-09-12). "GOP's Use of Right Now Leads to Sammy Hagar-Eddie Van Halen Phone Tag | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
- "NEWSMEAT ▷ Sammy Hagar's Federal Campaign Contribution Report". Newsmeat.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- "Van Halen Review - 06/20/04". Afgrant.com. Retrieved 2012-01-19.