David Lee Roth hasn’t spoken in detail publically about Eddie Van Halen since his death in October, but he did offer up some interesting thoughts about the track he released that serves as a tribute to his late bandmate.
Roth explained in a new interview with Variety that the song was actually written and recorded before Van Halen’s death. He also explained how the scent of sawdust, which is mentioned in the track, triggered the inspiration for the song.
“I don’t usually write autobiographical, but this was a specific effort to replicate a time and a place,” said Roth. “I actually walked past the door of a local drinking establishment and smelled the sawdust. And like Proust with a lemon cookie, it triggered volumes of memory…That’s the beginning of the story, at least for me. Because that was everywhere we played — the smell of fresh sawdust on the floor.”
Roth added when talking about how the song honors Van Halen, “There are two kinds of burials in show business. One’s very quiet, behind the scenes, nobody attends. And then there’s a ‘show biz’ approach, where you have a solemn ceremony and it’s followed by a reception where everybody gets up and tells stories. They can be off-color, they can be tear-jerkers, they can be of any nature. When my dad passed, the reception was at a Mexican restaurant around the corner. Everybody was eating and drinking and then the speeches become more colorful and much more energetic. Sometimes that’s the most heartfelt, heartbreaking, best material ever. And so I thought, if that occurred for Ed — which it did not — and everybody was going to get up and tell a story, when it got to my turn I would start with, ‘The smell of fresh sawdust on the floor…’ And go from there.”
“Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar and Grill” is available for streaming and download here.