The song, which Hagar hasn’t sung in 25 years, originally appeared on Balance and was partially inspired by the death of Kurt Cobain.
“When I heard that Kurt Cobain had taken his own life, the first thing I thought of was I wish I were there and could have tried to save him,” Hagar writes of the song. “The original title for these lyrics were ‘I want to show you what love can do’ but because it was such a dark horrible thing I just couldn’t shine a light on it. So I changed the final line to, ‘Don’t tell me what love can do.'”
“It was also the time of the breaking up of Van Halen,” he continues, “our last album and tour so it added a lot of emotion, negativity and pain in the original vocal performance that surfaced the second I started singing this song for the first time since 1995.”
Hagar and the Circle were originally supposed to be on the road this summer with Whitesnake and Night Ranger, but those plans were derailed by the pandemic. They haven’t played in public since February, but on September 18th they plan on returning to the stage at the Rockin’ Fore the Kids charity concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The money raised that night will benefit Akron’s Children’s Hospital, MusiCares and local food banks. (According to organizers, the event will be “be produced according to all COVID-19 guidelines.”)
This new rendition of “Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do)” is one of several lockdown videos that Hagar and the Circle (which also includes former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, drummer Jason Bonham and guitarist Vic Johnson) have shared with fans in recent months. Previous videos have tackled everything from Van Halen’s “Right Now” to the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”
“I’m just having a blast with this,” Hagar told Rolling Stone in May. “It’s the most creative fun I’ve had musically in a long time. It’s right up there with, I don’t know, Van Halen.”