|Single by Van Halen|
|from the album 1984|
|Released||June 18, 1984(US)|
|Studio||5150, Hollywood, California|
|Van Halen singles chronology|
|Alternative cover art|
The song was reportedly written about a car. In an interview with Howard Stern, lead singer David Lee Roth explained the meaning behind the 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.
Panama was also the name of Roth's Opel Kadett. He had the hood and bumper mounted in his hallway, which can be seen in his video for "SHOOBop". He has a taxidermized deer's behind crashing through the front windshield. A plaque underneath reads, "Your First Deer, courtesy of Panama."
Roth wrote the song after being accused by a reporter of singing about only women, partying, and fast cars. He realized he'd never written a song about fast cars, and decided to write one.
During the bridge of the song where Roth says "I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off," guitarist Eddie Van Halen can be heard revving his 1972 Lamborghini Miura S in the background. The car was backed up to the studio and microphones were attached to the exhaust pipe to record the sound for the song.
The music video for the song, directed by Pete Angelus, features mostly on-stage performances by the band. The bulk of the video was shot at The Spectrum in Philadelphia over two nights both during the show and at soundcheck. Portions of it were filmed at the tour dates prior during performances at the Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
The car shown in the music video is a heavily customized 1951 Mercury Eight convertible - notably not "Panama Express", the Opel or the Miura.
At 1'41" a pop poster by Milton Glaser (File:Milton Glaser WOR-1965.jpg) is featured on the wall by the left of the piano at which EVH is seated while blowing rings of smoke with his mouth. The poster resembled the art of Heinz Edelmann who was involved in the Yellow Submarine (film) and was the inspiration for the cover of the later 1989 LP Oranges & Lemons (album) by XTC.
In popular culture
The song was prominently featured in "Coma Guy," a 2020 episode of the animated TV series Family Guy, in which Peter mistakes the album 1984 for a book-on-CD of George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and becomes addicted to the song.
- David Lee Roth – lead vocals
- Eddie Van Halen – guitar, backing vocals
- Alex Van Halen – drums
- Michael Anthony – bass guitar, backing vocals
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||74|
|Canada Top Singles (RPM)||15|
|Irish Singles Chart||30|
|UK Singles Charts||64|
|US Billboard Hot 100||13|
|US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)||12|
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The album also featured plenty of guitar-dominated heavy metal, such as "Hot for Teacher" and "Panama." which became hits in their own right.
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|url=value (help). Retrieved February 28, 2021. Missing or empty
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