Days before Heart served the GOP campaign with a cease-and-desist letter for playing their 1977 hit “Barracuda” to introduce VP pick Sarah Palin (high school alias: “Sarah Barracuda”) at the August 31st Republican convention, Van Halen sounded off against McCain and Co. for blasting their tune “Right Now” at a rally in Dayton, Ohio. “Permission was not sought or granted nor would it have been given [to use the song],” Alex and Eddie Van Halen said in a statement. But not every VH member agreed.
“I got goosebumps from it — my fur went up,” says the band’s ex-frontman, Sammy Hagar, who co-wrote and sang the song — and said he’d be “just as happy” if Obama played it. “I was honored that a potential president of the United States used those words in a positive sense, like, ‘We gotta act now!’ “
Hagar, who’s tight-lipped on his presidential endorsement (“I vote for the man, not the party,” he says) heard that McCain used the tune via a deluge of phone calls. “I got calls from relatives, friends, doctors, lawyers… everyone thought it was so cool,” he says. “Then I started getting excited. Those words are an old Zen philosophy — it’s totally cool that they’re timeless.” Even former bandmate Eddie rang Hagar up.
“I got a message on my cell phone and it was Eddie’s voice,” Hagar recalls. “He goes, ‘Sam? This don’t sound like you. I got the wrong number.’ And he hangs up! So I hit redial. He didn’t answer, but I left a message: ‘Ed, it’s me. If you would like to talk about the ‘Right Now’ situation I’d love to speak to you about it.’ “
The two never connected, which raises some lingering questions. “Why didn’t [Van Halen] say no when Pepsi Cola gave us a million dollars to use the song in a Pepsi Light commercial?” asks Hagar. “That’s when you say no. That isn’t the message of this song.” But when a potential future president is using it to bring a message to the world, he says, “I’m going, ‘Hell, yes!'”
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