A friend of mine who owns a record store sparked a spirited debate on Facebook last week when she overheard two earnest music lovers debating “the worst song of all time that ever got popular: Witchy Woman by the Eagles or I Can’t Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar.”
Through 184 comments, her devoted followers dredged up the dregs of music history: Africa by Toto, Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean, the entire Barely Manilow cannon, Sussudio by Phil Collins… or anything by solo Phil Collins, for that matter… and of course, We Built this City (on Rock and Roll) by Jefferson Starship… or Airplane… or just Starship… or whatever the hell they’ve been calling themselves since they turned “rock and roll” into a milquetoast Top 40 exercise in stupidity.
And while all 184 suggestions made me want to gouge out my eardrums because now they are playing on an endless, middle-of-the-night loop inside my head (thank you, Starship), I would like to make the case for the Worst Rock and Roll Song of All Time:
Because… there isn’t, Sammy.
You yourself have thoroughly disproven your own theorem, having rocked with the likes of Montrose, Los Tres Gusanos, the Waboritas, Van Halen, Chickenfoot, Hagar Schon Aaronson and Shrieve (HSAS, version 1.o) and Hagar Schon Anthony and Smith (HSAS, version 2.o)… as well as your solo efforts which resulted in the aforementioned anachronism I Can’t Drive 55 and the self-invalidating There’s Only One Way to Rock.
Though the reports of the death of rock and roll have been greatly exaggerated – and abominations like We Built this City and Blinded by the Light have done nothing to counter the argument – I can without reservation say that there is more than one way to rock.
But I had to make sure: As I’ve gotten older (and as my husband will attest), my hearing isn’t quite what it used to be (and maybe it never was). Before Google, I thought the KISS anthem, Rock and Roll All Nite, was an abstract on middle-aged decline: “I want to rock and roll all night… and part of every day.” Because, really, as we get older, we do need to take care of ourselves and so we should spend part of our day rocking and rolling… and the other part sleeping, eating, paying bills and maintaining basic hygiene… before night falls and we rock and roll again throughout.
So imagine my shock when I hooked up to Google and looked up the lyrics only to discover that Gene Simmons didn’t want to rock and roll for two-thirds of the earth’s rotation (and take care of business the other third), but instead wanted to rock and roll all night and party every day. Party. We can see how far that got him when we examine the chord structure and lyrics of another KISS ballad, Tears are Falling… which come to think of it, makes the short-list for “worst songs of all time that ever got popular.”
To give Sammy the benefit of the doubt, I did my due diligence and visited Google just to make sure that Hagar was saying “ONLY one way to rock.” Because every time I hear that declaration, I think: “Is he really saying ‘ONLY one way to rock’ or is the din of his driving guitar obscuring the more accurate ‘MORE THAN one way to rock’?”
But no, my ears do not betray me, although my memory often fails. According to Sammy, there’s only one way to rock, although to be fair “there’s so many ways to make love, a million ways” that Sammy’s been thinking of… So according to Sammy, you can have a Rusty Trombone, a Dirty Sanchez and a Reverse Cowgirl in your sexual repertoire, but there’s still only one way to rock, although he never elucidates what that one way is… see for yourself.
Which is another reason why I must proclaim There’s Only One Way to Rock as “worst song of all time that ever got popular” because Sammy claims knowledge of the sole path to rock and roll enlightenment … but he never shares what that path is, even as he continues to contradict the premise of his song with his own lyrics. If Sammy wanted to be accurate, he should rename the song, There’s Only One Way to Write the Worst Song of All Time That Ever Got Popular, because he’s got that down pat.