For The Love of Weather & Van Halen

I write a lot about the weather. It is something that I am very passionate about. I have spent more than 25 years studying Pacific NW weather and now I get to share my passion with all of you. But let’s forget about weather for just a moment. Instead, I would like to take you on a trip back in time. Back to a time when we were all young and life seemed much simpler. The same childhood innocence I see when I look into my 5 year olds eyes. When I look at him it takes me back to a time I can relate to when I was a child. Perhaps that simple childhood innocence is something we all long for as we age? The longing to return to that time long ago. I would like to dedicate this article to my good friend Tracy. For she and I now share something in common that can never be replaced again and no words can ease the pain of her loss. Only time can mend a heavy heart. Your loved one is at peace now. The sadness you feel now will soon lift and be replaced with sweet memories of your childhood. It will be these sweet memories that you will carry on for the rest of your life. Rejoice in the time you spent together. You will meet again in another time and place.

Whether we talk about it or not, we all have that one band that takes us back to our childhood, to a time when life seemed simpler than it does today. A time when all we had was our youthful indiscretions and the memories of our friends we lost along the way. We all have a song or a band that “moved” us unlike any other band could. For my father and his generation (now pushing 75+ yrs old) it was Buddy Holly. For my wife it was Duran Duran. For me it was Van Halen! For some of you youngsters right now it could be Adele’s album “21.” It is a “moving” album for sure, very much worthy of all six Grammy awards. You all know what I mean. The bands that we all had pasted all over our bedroom walls at 14 yrs old in which we worshiped or idolized the members. The one band where when you turned on that one favorite song and closed your eyes you could picture yourself right there on stage with them. Again, for me it was Van Halen. After all, they were the “people’s band” who played music that transcended its listeners on many different levels. We all have our own “Van Halen” type of band, and if we put their music back into the CD player for just a moment it will take us back to that time and place that we enjoyed in our youth.

Fast forward to February 15th 2012. Kristin (my wife) bought me the brand new Van Halen album yesterday entitled, “A Different Kind of Truth” for my very soon-to-be 39th birthday. It is the first Van Halen album with “Diamond” David Lee Roth back behind the microphone in 28 long years. Van Halen’s last DLR fronted album was entitled “1984” and it went on to sell 11 million copies. All Van Halen fans loved the songs “Jump,” “Panama,” and “Hot For Teacher.” Believe it or not, MTV actually played music videos too! Go figure! Had a little known guy by the name of Michael Jackson not released a little known album called “Thriller” (pun intended), which sold an insane 40 million copies by the way, Van Halen’s single entitled “Jump” would have gone #1 that year. But, MJ’s “Thriller” stayed in the #1 spot for nearly an entire year. Again, insane for any song to do by any standard in music, both past or present! It seems hard to fathom that it has been 28 yrs since the last Van Halen studio album featuring David Lee Roth! But in retrospect, Alex Van Halen will be 60 yrs old next year (2013). Eddie and Dave are both 57 yrs old right now. Long gone are the days of being a teen-aged Van Halen fan back in 1980, right? Well, maybe not! Keep reading.

I grew up on VH and so did my older brothers who are all in their 40’s and 50’s now! I enjoyed the Sammy Hagar fronted Van Halen years (1985-1996) as much as I did the DLR years (1976-1985), but something happened to me yesterday that has not happened in 28 yrs. I put the new Van Halen album in my CD player and was blown away! Their latest album is perhaps in the “top 2 or 3” of best VH albums ever made, in my view. Record sales figures won’t reflect this as people don’t buy CD’s like they used to. If a band can sell 5 million copies today, it is the same as 10+ million 25 yrs ago. Everything gets downloaded and shared nowadays via the internet. Anyway, if you are a “TRUE” Van Halen fan (either Sammy or Dave) this is a must buy for your VH collection! From the moment I put the CD in, I knew it was going to be big! I personally like my Van Halen more on the rockin’ side and less on the fluffy side. Hence, the difference between the Hagar years and the DLR years. From the moment you pop this disk in you will appreciate it! Songs like “China Town,” “Blood and Fire,” “She’s The Woman” and the guitar work at the 2:08 mark of the song “As Is” are work’s of pure musical genius! For goodness sakes, these guys will be 60 yrs old soon and they are sounding like they are 25 yrs old again! Eddie’s guitar work is amazing! Folks, this new album is what I would expect to hear from a band that has sold nearly 80 million albums. As the younger kids would say nowadays, Eddie’s guitar work is, “sick.” A sober Eddie Van Halen made all the difference this time folks. 1998’s album entitled, “Van Halen III” featuring Gary Cherone sold a whopping 575,000 copies, where as “1984” sold 11 million along with Van Halen I (1978) selling about 10.9 million. I wonder how Gary is doing nowadays, knowing he was just a blip on the radar screen when Eddie was “under the influence” and the Van Halen train was falling off the rails, to put it nicely? When Eddie Van Halen is long gone someday, the music world will only then truly understand that it just lost one of the most talented musicians of modern time.

Ok, back to the new album. If you close your eyes and listen to the new album, you can almost imagine Michael Anthony (original bass player 1976-2006) on this album as well. But Eddie’s son Wolfgang does a great job instead. Clearly the sweet rhythm sounds that Michael Anthony’s voice brought to the VH table in the old days is gone, but this album has plenty more to offer. It is a shame that they can not create that magic with Mike one more time, for the fans. I was not quite old enough to see them in concert back in their prime with David Lee Roth in the 1970’s and early 80’s. My first concert was the 5150 tour in 1986 in Portland. For those who did see them in their prime and with the original lineup, you witnessed something back then that will never likely happen again. The hands of time have taken their physical toll on the band, as it will for all of us, but their music is stronger than ever. Mark my words, this album will be Grammy material for best rock album of the year this coming year! Spend the money for this new album. If you truly enjoy Van Halen this is a must have! It is heavy, fast and it rocks! The bonus DVD that comes with it is pretty awesome as well. David Lee Roth can’t hit those high notes anymore, but who cares! This new album is about as heavy as it gets for Van Halen. I equate it most to their 1980 release of “Women and Children First” with its fast speed and fast guitar riffs. The national tour this year will sell out at every single stop, guaranteed! How Portland got left off the first leg of the tour I have no idea. They will likely add more dates later on.

As I did when I was a teenager three decades ago, I sat back and listened to the brand new album last night and it was as if 28 years of time had never passed by. If I could meet the band right now, I would say — thank you Van Halen for “taking me back” one more time! You evoke emotion in your fans and that is a testament to your talent as a band. Now if you guys can just put up with each other long enough to tour the world one more time, you might realize just how special your music is to the 80 million people who have purchased your albums over the past 35 years and the millions more who have seen you live in concert. Not many bands get a fourth chance at life in the music business (David Lee Roth Part 1, Sammy Hagar Part 2, Gary Cherone Part 3, David Lee Roth Returns Part 4) especially after nearly 30 years have elapsed. Think about it, the last time David Lee Roth was behind the microphone on a full length Van Halen studio album, communism had yet to fall, Ronald Reagan was in his first term as President and we were all nearly 30 years younger than we are today! Maybe this time they will capture an entirely new generation with their musical magic? I sure hope they don’t screw it up this time. As for the rest of us, go out and get the new Van Halen album, “A Different Kind of Truth.” You will not be disappointed!

Stay Tuned!
Steve Pierce

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Steve Pierce

Steve Pierce

Steve Pierce is widely known as Oregon and Washington's "go-to-guy" when it comes to fast, accurate historical meteorological research and forecasts. Steve is currently the President of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Steve is also recognized as a regional weather commentator and blogger who can be heard on local radio stations and seen in print media outlets across the Pacific Northwest. His Weather Blog is hosted by the Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Check it out! He is a third generation resident of Vancouver, Washington and holds a degree in Communications. Both sets of Steve's grandparents migrated to Vancouver during World War II. One set traveled from Lenox, Iowa to work in the Kaiser Shipyards supporting the war effort. The other set came to Vancouver from Olympia, Washington to work as educators for the rapidly expanding Vancouver School District. When the war was over, both sets of grandparents decided to stay in Vancouver and continue raising their families, as did thousands of other families at the time. Those who are most familiar with Steve can attest to the fact that weather is his true passion. His love for "all things weather" began at the age of 7 when Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980. He was fascinated with which direction the ash plumes were headed. Then came the very powerful windstorm of Friday, November 13, 1981, also referred to as the "Friday the 13th" storm. This was the strongest storm to hit the Portland / Vancouver area since the great Columbus Day Storm of 1962! At age 11, he was asked to publish an extended weather forecast for his elementary school's weekly newsletter. In the 1980's, at age 14, Steve was the youngest of KGW-TV's local "weather watchers" and would phone in his daily Vancouver weather stats to then television meteorologist Jim Little for use on-air. Steve has lived through all of the major Pacific Northwest weather events of the past 30 years, and then some. The most notable events include; the bitterly cold winter of 1978-1979, the record setting snow storms of January 1980, the summer heat wave of August 1981, the windstorms of November 1981 and December 1995, the severe arctic blast of February 1989, the record flood of February 1996, the historic ice storm of January 2004, the Vancouver tornado of January 2008 and the record setting snow storm of Christmas 2008. Not to mention every Mt. St. Helens volcanic eruption in between. With access to the most extensive set of historical weather records available to date, Steve has personally designed and integrated a proprietary system that gives him the ability to quickly locate and manipulate weather data as far back as the 1800's. As one local Meteorologist put it, "Steve has fast access to historical weather data that is needed for media, agriculture, business, personal, historical and other climatological needs. He can quickly manipulate the data in many different ways. His forecasts are also quite accurate, especially at longer lead times." Steve also provides local storm assessments, narratives and weather presentations to the general public, as requested. In his spare time, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, the outdoors, vacationing at his family's coastal cabin and just relaxing! By the way, do you like your weather on the "extreme" side? So does Steve! Whether it is collecting damage assessment data & photos after record setting 125 mph winds at the coast in December 2007, being one of the first on the scene after the January 2008 Vancouver tornado, or feeling (literally) the awesome power of 100 mph wind gusts at Oregon's Crown Point in January 2010, Steve has experienced it all! As Steve says, "don't just love weather, live weather!" Check out Steve's personal weather website at:

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