Prime Cuts: Eddie Van Halen Breaks Down 10 Van Halen Classics, from "Eruption" to "Right Now"
“And the Cradle Will Rock”
Women and Children First (1980)
“Al [Alex Van Halen, drums] and I jammed on the basic riff for ‘And the Cradle Will Rock’ two hours a day for two straight weeks. [laughs] We didn’t really know what to do with it, but we were having fun because it just sounded so wicked.
"Then, out of nowhere, the chorus came to us and it was finished. Sometimes you really have to work for inspiration. But ultimately, it’s not really work because my brother and I genuinely love to jam.
“The solo on that song is unusual. I do one short lick that’s very spontaneous. It came out because I had been listening to Allan Holdsworth, who I think is the baddest. This was a first take—a bunch of songs on that album were first takes.
“That was also the first time I played keyboards in the studio. A lot of people don’t know that because it doesn’t really sound like a keyboard. I had an old Wurlitzer electric piano and I pumped it through my Marshalls. I just pounded on the lower registers and put it through an MXR flanger to get that weird sound.
"Ted said, ‘Wow! What the hell is that?’ [laughs] ‘Oh, nothing, just me, screwing around.’ So we recorded it. That was my first encounter with the band not wanting me to play keyboards—when we did the song live, Mike played it. They didn’t want a guitar hero playing keyboards onstage.
“I thought Women and Children First would strike people as adventurous because of songs like this and ‘Could This Be Magic’ and ‘In a Simple Rhyme.’ Everybody says Fair Warning was a weird album, but I think this one is weirder. Maybe Fair Warning felt that way because the album cover was so bizarre. I think the music on it is actually very straightforward.”
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