This has always been one of my all-time favorite Van Halen songs, and the album it comes from, 1984, is nothing less than a milestone in my life: it was that album that led me into heavy metal, in the same year as its title. For a scrawny 11-year-old who had barely heard pop music (and generally disliked it), “Jump” was something amazingly new, “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher” were deliciously irreverent, but “I’ll Wait” was a song I fell in love with instantly, and I still love it 30 years later.
The song, obviously about having a crush on a supermodel, is notable both for the heavy synth lines–a trademark of the 80s–and also Eddie Van Halen’s whammy-bar guitar solo, which I still think is one of the best solos of all time. Ironically the producer of 1984, Ted Templeman, originally did not want the song to appear on the album. Eddie convinced him.
In 1984, when I discovered this album (and this song), I was attending a school in a pretty conservative district. Many things were banned in our school, but the tape of Van Halen’s 1984 was singled out for special opprobrium. A friend of mine was suspended from school for even possessing it. The reason? The cover illustration of the cherub smoking a cigarette was thought to “promote teen smoking.” Welcome to red state America in the 80s.
Shabbat Shalom, have a great Memorial Day weekend!