Top 10 Sammy Hagar ’00s + Beyond Songs
The Top 10 Sammy Hagar ’00s + Beyond Songs demonstrate quite clearly that the Red Rocker is now aware there is indeed more than ‘One Way to Rock.’ Although he was supposedly fired from Van Halen for a lack of work ethic, and even though he was now one of the richest rock stars in the world thanks to his tequila empire, Hagar toured constantly and released four solo albums and two records with his new group Chickenfoot during this time. (Meanwhile his former bandmates managed just one studio album and a greatest-hits compilation featuring three new songs — sung by none other than Hagar, who had temporarily reunited with the group.) As you’ll see on the fourth and final part of our Sammy Hagar: Four Decades of Rock series, there’s more to admire here than just quantity here — to this day, the Red Rocker continues to explore new genres and textures, often with highly rewarding results.
We’re not knocking the mellower, beach-party vibe that turned up on many of the Red Rocker’s solo albums during this decade, but as a classic rock-oriented website, our list of the top Sammy Hagar songs from this era is dominated by more rock-orientated efforts. Still, respect must be paid to the continually expanded range he demonstrated on songs like ‘Come Closer,’ a delightfully smooth and warm ballad featuring a gorgeous Joe Satriani guitar figure.
On his third post-Van Halen solo album — named after his birthday — Hagar proves he can still get serious swing with the big boys, unleashing a dramatic fire and brimstone warning about the dangers of environmental abuse over a nasty Morse code guitar riff.
Understandably, the first album by Hagar’s new supergroup Chickenfoot was a tentative “let’s meet on common ground” affair. Two years and a big tour later, the group confidently pushed its sound in several new directions on the second effort. One of the most rewarding results was this textured, rootsy song featuring a mature, restrained vocal performance.
In the early ’00s, Hagar and his former bandmate Michael Anthony announced plans to form a new group named Planet Us, which was also to feature Journey guitarist Neal Schon. Soon after, the duo decided to (temporarily) rejoin Van Halen instead, scuttling the project. But two songs from those sessions — including this surprisingly heavy, dark and twisting number — popped up on Hagar’s grab-bag of a 2008 solo album.
‘Down the Drain’
The loose, instinctual vibe of Chickenfoot’s first album is best demonstrated on this shambling six-minute song, which finds Hagar and company eagerly following along after Satriani unleashes a stomping brontosaurus of a guitar riff. As Anthony told us, “We basically wrote that one as we played it.”
‘Let Sally Drive’
Don’t get us wrong, we respect the hell out of the creative growth demonstrated by many of the Top 10 Sammy Hagar ’00s + Beyond Songs. But it was also nice to see him spend a good chunk of ‘Ten 13′ cranking out straight-ahead throwback rockers like this one — and ‘Shaka Doobie‘ and ‘3 in the Middle‘ — all of which could have fit on the mighty ‘Standing Hampton.’ Remind us again why he doesn’t play rhythm guitar in his various band projects?
Two car songs in a row, what a shocker! With Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith risking an overheated engine behind him, Hagar hits the road in search of some love. A true man on a mission, he pauses just long enough to buy gas and sing the praises of Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Houses of the Holy.’
‘Future in the Past’
While much of Chickenfoot’s debut album focuses on lighthearted party anthems or love songs, they close out with this tension-building epic that tackles big topics such as science, religion and the importance of standing naked on a mountaintop at least once in the short life we’re each granted. (Hang on, we’ll be right back … )
This might be the most under-appreciated song of Hagar’s entire career. Over a background of chiming piano and dramatic drum breaks, Hagar testifies about the importance of recognizing and heeding the lessons being sent out by the universe. He’s in fine voice, of course — but it’s the contrasting bursts of raw, soaring guitar that really catch the ear.
As Joe Satriani stacks up layer upon layer of guitars, Hagar has his cake and eats it too, hitting every important rock-singer mark while not-so gently poking fun at financial excess. Initially, he displays a mischievous sense of humor by pretending to be an oil baron — probably about the only person richer than he is in real life — trying to buy the affections of the one girl who said “no” to him. But soon enough the jokes fade away and our hero gets serious and shows why he’s one of the most successful and beloved frontmen of the past four decades.