How Van Halen Came Full Circle on Final Single ‘She’s the Woman’
With Van Halen's final single, 2012's "She's the Woman," the band finished where it started.
The thumping rock song was first recorded by the group back in November 1976, more than a year before the January 1978 release of its debut single, a cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me."
"She's the Woman" was among the tracks the unsigned Van Halen recorded during a demo session spearheaded by Gene Simmons, who briefly had the band signed to a management contract. He released the group from the deal when his Kiss bandmates pressured him to stay focused on their career instead.
Early in 1977, Van Halen recorded new demos of "She's the Woman" and "You Really Got Me" with producer Ted Templeman after they signed to Warner Bros. The Kinks cover was one of six songs from that session the band rerecorded later that year for its groundbreaking debut album. But "She's the Woman" remained in the vault for more than three decades, though its mid-song instrumental breakdown was used in "Mean Street," the opening track from 1981's Fair Warning.
Hear the 1976 Demo Version of Van Halen's 'She's the Woman'
After Van Halen ended a 22-year split with founding singer David Lee Roth and mounted a successful 2007 tour, they began work on their first album together since 1984's 1984. The project was led by guitarist Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang, who had replaced Michael Anthony as the band's bass player.
Eager to reconnect the group with its earlier sound, Wolfgang went through the vaults and helped uncover seven songs, including "She's the Woman," that the band reworked for 2012's A Different Kind of Truth.
"At that point in time, my dad's writing style had changed, drastically - not in a bad way, but in a different way, to where fans of classic-era Van Halen may not have appreciated it as much," Wolfgang told UCR. "So I thought it would be worth looking at old demos for inspiration ... and [to] build upon old ideas to bring out something new."
Roth completely reworked - and greatly improved - the lyrics for the song; Wolfgang and Eddie contributed a new bridge to replace the one used in "Mean Street." "I think it was cool the way Dad soloed around this new progression," Wolfgang noted. "It's almost a little proggy when you listen. It's a very interesting chord progression that he came up with."
Watch Van Halen's 'She's the Woman' Video
If Wolfgang had the final vote, the album's laid-back lead single "Tattoo" would not have been the first song fans heard from the anticipated comeback record. "I fought for 'She's the Woman' to be the first single," he explained. "[It] was the most classic, straight-from-the-demo-era [track.] People are so cynical and reactive these days with social media that I think when they get that [first single], that's their first impression, and they think the rest of the album's gonna be like that. And that wasn't the case [with 'Tattoo']."
Although the song didn't make much of a dent on the charts, peaking at No. 24 on Billboard's Active Rock tally, "She's the Woman" became a popular addition to the band's set lists on the 2012 and 2015 tours. It also appeared on Van Halen's first live album with Roth, 2015's Tokyo Dome Live in Concert.