The Van Halen song Sammy Hagar called painful to make

Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen

Not every album cycle is intended to be the most pleasurable experience on the planet. For all of the inspiration that may flow from every musician working in the studio, there are times when the artist can’t think of anything. It resulted in long hours with nothing accomplished. Any album can be damaging to an artist’s ego. But Sammy Hagar was on the verge of self-harm while working on The Van Halen project.

Before Hagar joined the band, the studio often experienced tumultuous times with Van Halen. Creative disagreements between Eddie Van Halen and Roth marred several of the group’s studio sessions with David Lee Roth. It included the massive compromises made on their blockbuster album 1984.

Even though Roth would not be around for the rest of the 1980s, Hagar fit right in when called in for a jam session. Hagar, who was recommended by Eddie’s mechanic, would be responsible for ushering in the next era of Van Halen including chart-topping songs on his debut with the band 5150.

Hagar’s musical style was more similar to Van Halen’s. The next album would be a more difficult beast to tackle. With keyboards becoming a primary focus in the studio, OU812 would become one of Van Halen’s more fractured releases. It was with the band producing the majority of the album themselves for the first time.

Eddie worked with his engineer Donn Landee to fine-tune several albums. However much of the project suffered from bloat. It resulted in songs that were far longer than they should have been. Despite ‘When It’s Love‘ getting a prime spot on MTV at the time, the opener ‘Mine All Mine’ would become one of Hagar’s most difficult tracks to nail.

The vocal makes up the majority of the song.  Sammy Hagar would spend weeks trying to get the lyrics to fit perfectly with Eddie’s riffs, only to rewrite them when he thought they didn’t. Eddie was churning out riffs left and right. But Hagar was on the verge of a nervous breakdown when he began writing.

“That wasn’t a magical moment. I beat myself up, hurt myself, punished myself, and practically threw things through windows while trying to write the lyrics. Hagar said that getting ‘Mine All Mine’ correct was torturous. I went through it and rewrote the lyrics to that song seven times. And it was the last song I sang on for the album.”

By the time he entered the vocal booth, Hagar was still not convinced of the song. He even refused to sing it on some occasions due to his dissatisfaction with his lyrics. Regardless of his feelings towards the tracks, the melodies he created for the final track were perfect. It stacked multiple harmonies on top of each other with bassist Michael Anthony’s soaring falsetto.

Hagar was unsure how to approach this new era of Van Halen. But it wouldn’t be until For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge that the band would return to the top with the hit single ‘Right Now’. Hagar may have suffered for his art more than once. But it takes that extra effort to produce a song for the ages.

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