Following Panama Five

The stereo in my wife's car is pretty lame.

In my youth I might have torn the whole thing out and spent a month's salary installing something with some serious backbone. Now, however, I wouldn't even know where to begin, and since NPR doesn't require 12" woofers or a five hundred watt amplifier, I've just left it as is.

Factory direct.

Sometimes though . . . a song comes on the radio that just needs to be cranked.

Sometimes it's cheesy and embarrassing (see: Pat Benetar, Kelly Clarkson and the occasional Taylor Swift) and the windows need to be rolled up and no eye contact is to be made.

Sometimes it's classic, something Motown, and you want to roll all the windows down and show that you're really not some incredibly white chick in a champaign colored SUV.

And sometimes . . .

Sometimes it's Van Halen.

Van Halen needs to be cranked.

Especially the David Lee Roth years.

It's a moral imperative.

"Jump", "Hot For Teacher", "Everybody Wants Some", hell even The Kinks cover "You Really Got Me" require full throttle on the decibel meter.

So when "Panama" comes on as I head to pick up my son from school, regardless of the insufficient system, I'm rolling that dial up.

. . . and the tree was happy.

But then something weird happened.

After the song was over, I had kind of forgotten that the sound was maxed and suddenly I've got Hootie and the Blowfish telling me to Let Her Cry at a very awkward volume.

Now, I totally get the fact that serious DJ work has been usurped by the ubiquitous and freakishly cheaper iTunes Shuffle, but how hard would it be to create a basic playlist?

It can't be that tough.

Or . . . and more probably . . . someone was just asleep at the wheel.

Someone young.

Someone who thinks anything produced before 2007 is all just the same.

Anything pre EDM is just nonsense.

(For those of you who have had hair on your unmentionables for longer than six months, EDM is a catchall term for Electronic Dance Music. House, Rave, Dubstep, somewhere between disco and industrial and The Grateful Dead. It's the new thing. Well . . . maybe not the NEW thing. It's just the stuff to take drugs to and make bad decisions with. Glow in the Dark Hula Hoops have replaced lava lamps and a new generation has a morning-after pill.)

But still?

Hootie and the Blowfish following Van Halen?

Now I'm not Hootie Hater. Any band that can streamline a bunch of pop hits for a few years and spend the rest of their careers at Celebrity Golf functions deserves an A+ in my book.

But Let Her Cry is just not the right tune to follow Panama.

Did QuestLove teach us nothing?

(Again for the over thirty crowd, QuestLove is the drummer for the experimental HipHop band 'The Roots' and is now the band leader for Jimmy Fallon's late night TV show. His book "Mo' Meta Blues" spends chapters talking about the art of DJing and is a must read for anyone who wants to learn how to put two songs back to back)

There are five directions you can go with following any song. Go harder, go softer, switch genres, go classic, go modern.

There may be others too, Questlove was all about tempo cause he's a drummer, I prefer to stay in key or because I have a terrible sense of humor, go super annoying, either way, this is a Five list, not a keep going until I run out of ideas list.

So since I spent the better part of my youth (when I wasn't replacing car stereos) doing what my generation did, making mix tapes, I think I am ultimately qualified to find songs that should follow this Van Halen masterpiece, and consider this my resume if you are looking for a DJ for your radio station.

Number One: Going Harder
That's pretty wild jump to go from Panama to something that screams louder, so my suggestion is to go with something in the alternative section from my native 90's era. Nirvana's "Smells Like Team Spirit" would fit nicely. It starts with the undistorted ultra recognizable F to Bflat to Gsharp to Csharp, then lights up your tweeters as Dave Grohl's drums kick in.

Number Two: Going Softer
David Lee Roth has just told you to reach down between his legs and ease the seat back. You can probably guess that although it will be quite the drive, it's probably not going to end well, so here I think we need to consider Cat Steven's "Wild World" It's soft, poignant, and kind of like a melancholy Jiminy Cricket on the shoulder of the girl who is riding shotgun.

Number Three: Switching Genre's
In the 80's Van Halen was clearly in the Heavy Metal category, but I didn't think they belonged there then, and I certainly don't think they belong there now. No, I think I would call them - maybe - something like - Power Pop. Somewhere between David Bowie's Glam Rock of the 70's and Warrant's Glam Rock of the 80's.  They definitely gave the late 80's hair bands their look and feel, but I think they deserve a little more cool credit than Nelson or Winger. Anyway, we're in party mode, so I things we need to jump straight to Black Eyed Peas' "Lets Get it Started" Yeah, that feels right. Ending David's yell of Panama and rolling smooth with Furgie's faux soulful "Let's get it started . . . in here ear ear ear." And the bass keeps running runnin and running runnin.

Number Four: Going Classic
If you want to go classic here, you've only got three options following Van Halen. Clapton, Hendrix, or Townsend. (Some people might wanna add Page . . . boo) A solid Clapton pairing would be "Sunshine of Your Love" instantly recognizable, and if you're Van Halen fan, you'll know that Clapton is the one guitar player Eddie stole the most from. I'm a Hendrix guy myself and am tempted to go with All Along the Watchtower (A Dylan tune, so a two-fur), but tinkering with my own playlist, Crosstown Traffic is a much better fit. I didn't find a Who tune that worked right sonically, but thematically, Behind Blue Eyes, cause if anyone know what it's like to be the bad man behind blues eyes, it's David Lee Roth.

Number Five: Go Modern.
I'm really really tempted here to go with Adelle's "Rollin in the Deep" That kick drum line is just so bad ass, but for some reason I just can't visualize an eighteen year old Adelle being the kind of girl Roth is singing about . . . however . . . Pink on the other hand . . . not only is she the kind of girl that's riding into the night with David, she's probably driving. "Blow Me (One last Kiss)" is both a sonic and thematic pairing of perfection.

*Bonus Track
Now remember, I've got cheap speakers cranked up, as would you, and it's as important to shock the listener just to make sure he's paying attention, and it's also important to recognize Panama as not just a girl gone wild, but also as a equatorial nation.

Is if you're gonna go nuts . . .

go with "The Girl From Ipanema."

And let hilarity ensue.

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