Van Halen Versus Billie Eilish: Who Wins?

So today I saw Van Halen trending on Twitter. My first thoughts drifted to the recent disclosure that guitarist Edward Van Halen has been receiving treatment for throat cancer. Did something serious happen to the second greatest guitarist ever? Has the brilliant creator of numerous classic guitar riffs taken a turn for the worst?

Nope!

All the chatter centered around a single, simple confession. It seems the latest pop sensation doesn’t know who or what Van Halen is. But that’s to be expected, right? I mean, Billie Eilish, the pop singer in question here, is just 17 years old. She was born in 2001. Van Halen hasn’t released a successful album since 1995’s Balance, which sold 3 million copies (physical copies, no downloads back then) in the United States, and another couple million across the rest of the world.

Okay, I sort of get why some older people might be a little miffed that this kid doesn’t know who the once mighty Van Halen is or were. This is a band that has sold over 80 million albums worldwide. They’ve had two albums pass the ten million (Diamond) sales mark in the United States alone. They’ve been at it for 40-odd years. Their tours are legendary. They’ve more than paid their dues. But do these same angry Van Halen fans know who Billie Eilish is? Most have admitted they don’t.

As stated above, Miss Eilish is just 17 years old (though she’ll be 18 this month). She wasn’t even born when the VH machine made legit music and world-conquering tours. That’s excuse enough right there. Yes, she’s a singer and musician. She ought to know more of the history of who and what came before her. But that is not mandatory. It doesn’t disqualify her from being legit herself because she can’t pass a pop-culture trivia quiz.

Billie Eilish is making some seriously good music. She is touring the world in support of her first album. She’s also released an EP. I own every Van Halen album (including the Sammy Hagar stuff).

I also own both Eilish releases.

I am a music fan.

Period.

I cannot wrap my head around the animosity going back and forth on Twitter. Both sides dissing each other. One side accused of being old and out of touch, the other side dismissed as young and ignorant. I couldn’t ever imagine myself dumping on a band like Bill Haley and the Comets simply because they had their success long before I was born. I like the music. I own some of The Comets CD’s. In fact, my collection of nearly a thousand CD’s (and countless downloads) contains music that traverses a wide spectrum. I have music from Django Reinhardt, a French jazz guitarist popular in the 1930’s and 1940’s. I also have many 1940’s Big Band swing jazz albums. Billie Holiday—the original Billie? I possess lots of her music. I own many titles from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Grace VanderWaal, Pink, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Tupac, Eminem, and, of course, the aforementioned Van Halen and Billie Eilish.

It’s a collection befitting any true music fan. In my younger days, if it wasn’t metal, it sucked. Then I grew up and my love of music matured. Good musicians always look toward the future with an eye on the past. There aren’t many successful musicians who rise to the top by not knowing the past. But here’s the cool thing: the past is so vast and filled with tons of great music and musicians just waiting to be mined by a new generation. And by that same token, the world today is filled with some incredible new music and talented young musicians. Why would anybody choose to dismiss a band or singer based on age? Music unites, ignorance divides!

For those who may not be familiar with Billie Eilish, have a serious listen:

Are you too young to recall Van Halen’s glory days? Let this seep into your mind:

 

17 thoughts on “Van Halen Versus Billie Eilish: Who Wins?

  1. John W. Howell

    Excellent post, Beem. I do remember Bill Haley and the Comets and Rocked Around the Clock starting in 1955. Before that, I was a classical lover since my parents’ music seemed old fashioned (See the Pyramids along the Nile.) I think the vitriol on Twitter trending items is horrible. It is not just contained to the Van Halen/David Lee Roth subject. I like you enjoy all kinds of music and have been fortunate to live in a time which saw the birth of rock and roll and all the genres to date.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thanks for chiming in, John. I just scratch my head over all these arguments and the disrespect where music is concerned. I love music. Not a fan of opera, but I can honestly listen to some of it. There’s a young opera singer that competed on America’s Got Talented last season. She had me close to tears just from hearing her voice. Music has always been a great pathway to peace. But today, with the anonymity of the internet, it seems some would rather argue than find common ground.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. D.L. Finn, Author

    My response disappeared, but I love this post. I grew up loving rock and branched out to all genres later. My kids all know the greats because we are a house that loves all good music. You are right music does bring people together when they listen.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. Jan Sikes

    The animosity on Twitter is just a reflection of the pulse of the world in general. I too am a lover of all kinds of music. Eddie Van Halen is one of the most amazing musicians ever to breathe air! And, maybe the chatter will encourage Billie to look back at some of the legends and honor them. We were SO fortunate to get to grow up in the greatest era of music!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      I agree with you, Jan. And for the record, Billie is familiar with many older musicians and singers from earlier generations. She knows Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Green Day. She didn’t know Van Halen or Huey Lewis and the News. I think all musicians should be conscious of the history of music. What came before them is often inspirational and life changing. Yes, we truly are fortunate to have grown up in the eras we did. Music was and is vital to being a well-balanced human being.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. markbierman

    Some good points made here, Beem. I’m one of the older group who listened to Van Halen (once in concert) but I don’t expect my children to know who he is (of course, they are not musicians). My Mom used to talk about Red Skelton, when I was a child, and I was like, “Red Skelton, who?” Just a generational thing, nothing more. You should have seen my kid’s faces when I told them that I am older than Google! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thanks for adding to the conversation, Mark. Most young people of today’s generation won’t know Van Halen—though they may know some of the songs. You are correct, it is a generational thing. Being a huge music fan, I sought out great music from the past. My collection is filled with amazing sounds from decades long before I came into this world. But I was also exposed to a lot of different music as a child. My parents were country music fans, so I absorbed that genre. They also played a lot of the 1950’s and 1960’s rock and roll music of their childhood and teen years. These all made it into my own CD collection due to this early exposure. Because of my father, I own most of Bob Seger’s albums. But Django Reinhardt and Billie Holiday and Dave Brubeck are performers I sought for myself. I’d heard about them and their music and had to listen for myself. The same goes for today’s young singers and bands. I heard a lot about Adele and Billie Eilish and Greta Van Fleet, and I had to find out for myself. I guess it just depends on the individual. And for the record, I knew all about Red Skelton as a child, because he was still around back then. Older than Google! That’s funny. I remember the stone ages, back in the 1970’s, when a thing needed looking up, one went to the library at school. Google? That was just a silly name that might make a person laugh.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. markbierman

        Yes, and we actually had to wait for scheduled show times on television (LOL!) My parents listened to country, as well, but my Mom was more into Johnny Cash and religious music. Yesterday, I was playing Motley Crue on the car radio and my youngest asked me to change the station- the nerve! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. beemweeks Post author

        My dad was a Johnny Cash fan as well. My earliest memories—late 1960’s—are of him playing a Johnny and June Carter Cash album while painting the bedrooms at our old house. And I’ve seen Motley Crue in concert twice! Kids today! Oy vey!

        Like

  5. Shirley Harris-Slaughter

    Beem, I love what you are saying about music and appreciating it. My love of music crosses all kinds accept for heavy metal. But naturally my taste is not going to always mesh with everyone else’s. And like you said, music appreciation has no timeframe on it. I loved the big band music, and the motown sound. I didn’t like the blues (my dad loved it), I loved jazz, I loved Janis Joplin, and appreciated Jimmi Hendrix. I didn’t hear much Van Halen so can’t comment one way or the other. I love music and its history. It should transcend all generations.

    I love this discussion. Nice post Beem.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thank you for chiming in on this, Shirley. I agree with what you’ve said. I love all kinds of music from many different eras. It’s just in my soul. Music is the great meeting point in life. It should be where age and ethnicity and socioeconomics don’t even come into play. The love of music should bring us all together.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. Maryanne

    You make such excellent points. I’m 56 and was never a Van Halen fan (no disrespect, I just don’t get it), but now a true Billie Eilish fan. In my youth I went through the phases, if it’s not punk I don’t like it; and mocked my mother for listening to doo wop radio (and now I’m a fan and have seen many doo wop acts over the years). And I love going to vinyl stores and seeing the reactions of the cashiers when I’ll buy both a Gang of Four CD and a Billie Eilish CD. They seem so baffled that a person who’s not working in a record store can appreciate both.

    In a positive light, when I’m at concerts — say the last 15 years or so — it seems the generation gap is closer than ever. At a doo wop show I’d see children dancing. At a HIM concert, I’d see teens with their moms. Music fans of all ages are together at shows, which is charming and cool. I don’t pay attention to what idiots on social media say or do. People who get petty like that are ridiculous. I’m of the mindset, promote what you love, don’t trash what you hate. (Half the time I’m so excited writing about what I love than worrying about something I’m not crazy about, you know?)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Thanks for chiming in, Maryanne. I love the points you make. I am of the same mindset. Music should be a common ground that brings all people together. In my younger days, if it wasn’t metal, I didn’t want to hear it. But the truth is, I love all sorts of music. Even back then I was still listening–though I’d have denied it around my friends!

      I still buy physical copies of most of the music I listen to–though I do have iPods loaded with all sorts of music. I have a massive CD collection: Billie Eilish, Grace VanderWaal, Elvis Presley, Megadeth, Metallica, The Bee Gees, The Ramones, Rancid, The Clash, Loretta Lynn, and whatever else catches my ear. I love music. There’s not much I can say I hate. Not an opera fan–but I’d never say I hate it. I appreciate the discipline that singing opera requires. I’m just not a fan. If it excites another soul on this planet, then it is worth having around.

      Thanks for the input!

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.