TylerDFC #CBR4 Review 15 Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar with Joel Selvin
Your favorite band sucks. But that’s ok, mine does, too. No other type of entertainment in the world is more divisive than music. And everyone thinks they are right. Which really means that no one is. Music, by and large, is an entertainment whose entire purpose is to elicit an emotional response. There is rarely a story, rarely a lesson. Music is what it is and doesn’t usually require a great deal of introspection. You either like a song or you don’t and that opinion comes from a combination of personal factors more vast than you can quantify. Music is gut reaction entertainment.
My taste in music is, I think, pretty damn eclectic. I tend to lean more on the hard rock/rock side of things but I also like rap, dance, college rock (whatever that is anymore) even show tunes. The difference with me is I tend to like good music, regardless of the genre. I’m drawn to quality music and I respect musicians that get out there and do their thing night after night and album after album. I have to have a good melody, and I’ve always been a guy that can give a song a pass if the lyrics are bringing something interesting to an otherwise mundane song. There are bands I like that my friends write off as generic. Why do I like them? Hard to say, I have different reasons for each instance. Something in the sound or the lyrics speak to me. One particular moment stands out. A guitar riff moves me. Sometimes that is all it takes.
I’m a Sammy Hagar fan, but not necessarily because he’s a musician. I do think he was the best front man for Van Halen but his solo music always struck me as good, not great. I love his voice, always have. Just sometimes the music left me a bit cold. It comes down to this, I think he’s a cool cat that looks like he’s having a blast with life, has a good attitude, and seems like an all around great guy.
Red is Sammy’s autobiography, co-written with Joel Selvin. In the book, Sammy takes us through his hard-luck childhood in Los Angeles all the way through the various on-again off-again Van Halen tours and ending with the formation of Chickenfoot. Like I said, I liked Sammy but didn’t love all his stuff. The book opened my eyes to just how prolific this guy is. Not only is he a tireless musician and touring artist, he’s a damn good businessman and the book goes in to his various business ventures including the Cabo Wabo cantina, his tequila, and others such as a mountain bike company and even an overhead fire sprinkler business. He demonstrates over and over again the old adage “Money makes money.”, which ends up being both inspiring and disheartening. Ultimately the book is inspiring, and he ends it with a beautiful “I did it, you can do it, I’m no more special than you are.” that is really the perfect way to close.
The “Uncensored” in the title is dead on, too. Sammy tells the story like it happened, and doesn’t mind that there are times he doesn’t come off the best. He details sexual escapades, casual drug use, the breakdown of his first marriage, and his love/hate experiences with Van Halen. His honesty is unflinching, and it makes for interesting reading.
The tone all the way through matches Sammy’s personality; matter of fact, upbeat, and always looking forward. It is an enjoyable read whether you are an acolyte of Hagar or not. I’m writing this while listening to Sammy’s solo work on Spotify and I can see I may be picking up some of his albums shortly. It’s good, well made rock & roll that’s fun to listen to.
Sometimes that’s all I want from my music.