Eddie Van Halen gave an hour-long Smithsonian Talk for the What It Means to Be American project. Just from the name alone, you can assume what the subject of these talks are, and Eddie addresses all that with his story of coming to America as a kid with his brother and parents, who had $50 and a piano to their name. And yes, their dad, as a professional musician, paid their way by performing on the boat.
But a “coming to America” story is a dime a dozen, and Eddie and Alex made the American Dream a reality, which I suppose is what the Smithsonian wanted to get at. More than that, Van Halen‘s music, and Eddie’s playing style and innovation in particular, changed the musical landscape and inspired more than a few kids to pick up an instrument. And that speaks more to the purpose of these talks — influence!
If you’re a Van Halen fan, I think you’ll really enjoy Eddie’s talk, especially the stuff about his innovation through necessity. The stuff he did for the sound he wanted, and not being able to afford the fancy equipment, is truly inspiring. From building his own guitars, dipping pickups, using voltage as volume, and so much more, it’s really interesting and educational stuff.
Below is an excerpt about the What It Means to Be American talks:
The National Museum of American History and Zócalo Public Square have joined together to produce an unprecedented partnership and a new, three-year project: What It Means to Be American. Beginning in 2014, this national, multi-platform conversation will bring together leading thinkers, public figures, and Americans from all walks of life to explore big, visceral questions about how America’s history of migration and immigration, democratic traditions, and shared history and culture have made us the nation we are today. Through live public events, humanities journalism, newspapers, television and radio, and in partnership with leading museums and universities around the nation, Zócalo and the Smithsonian will ask and find many answers to the question, what does it mean to be American?
For more information, visit: americanhistory.si.edu
Rock Hard \m/