Panama (song)

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Van Halen - Panama (US).png
Single by Van Halen
from the album 1984
  • "Drop Dead Legs" (US)
  • "Girl Gone Bad" (UK)
ReleasedJune 18, 1984 (1984-06-18)[1]
Format7-inch single
Studio5150, Hollywood, California
LabelWarner Bros.
Producer(s)Ted Templeman
Van Halen singles chronology
"I'll Wait"
"Hot for Teacher"
"Panama" on YouTube
Music video
"Panama" on YouTube
Alternative cover art
European release
European release

"Panama" is a song from Van Halen's album 1984. It was the third single released from that record.


The song was reportedly written about a car.[4] In an interview with Howard Stern, lead singer David Lee Roth explained the meaning behind the trademark song. Although the song features some suggestive lyrics, it is about a car that Roth saw race in Las Vegas; its name was "Panama Express", hence the title of the song.[5] In the Stern interview, Roth did not explain why the song was about a car rather than the usual Van Halen material.

Panama was the name of Roth's car.[6] He had the hood and bumper mounted in his hallway, which can be seen in his video for "SHOOBop". He has a stuffed deer's behind crashing through the front windshield. A plaque underneath reads, "Your First deer, courtesy of PANAMA."

During the bridge of the song where Roth says "I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off it," guitarist Eddie Van Halen can be heard revving his 1972 Lamborghini Miura S in the background.[7] The car was backed up to the studio and microphones were attached to the exhaust pipe to record the sound for the song.[4]

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song, directed by Pete Angelus, features mostly on-stage performances by the band. The video was shot at Providence Civic Center in Providence during a soundcheck and concert.


Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1984–85) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[8] 74
Irish Singles Chart[9] 30
UK Singles Charts 64
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 13


  1. ^ "Eddie Van Halen Spotted in 1972 Lamborghini Used in "Panama"". VHND. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  2. ^ Bukszpan, Daniel; Dio, Ronnie James (2003). The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal. Barnes & Noble Publishing. ISBN 9780760742181. The album also featured plenty of guitar-dominated heavy metal, such as "Hot for Teacher" and "Panama." which became hits in their own right.
  3. ^ Jon Wiederhorn (January 9, 2016). "Van Halen 1984 anniversary". Loudwire. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  4. ^ a b - 1984
  5. ^ "The Super Book of Useless Information: The Most Powerfully Unnecessary Things You Never Need to Know". Amazon. A Pedigree Book. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  6. ^ The Super Book of Useless Information: The Most Powerfully Unnecessary Things You Never Need to Know. A Pedigree Book. October 4, 2011. ISBN 978-0399536960.
  7. ^ "Eddie Van Halen Smithsonian talk (full Interview, 2-12-2015) HD". Retrieved December 26, 2015.
  8. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  9. ^ "The Irish Charts". Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  10. ^ "Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Retrieved February 27, 2010.

External links[edit]