Sammy Hagar is sharing the origins of the 1986 Van Halen classic, “Dreams”, as he promotes his newly-released acoustic album, “Lite Roast.”
The project sees Sammy teamed with Waboritas guitarist Vic Johnson to deliver stripped-down versions of tunes from Hagar’s career, including the VH track.
“It was the ‘5150’ record, and we did it in like less than a month,” Hagar tells Ultimate Classic Rock. “Mick Jones from Foreigner, I got him to come in and produce it with us, and he was saying, ‘You guys need one more song.’ We had the whole album except that song. We were saying ‘Oh, f— you, we just want to get out on tour,’ we were so happy and jacked up that we just couldn’t wait to get out and play for the people.”
“[Jones] was saying, ‘Give me one more song’ and we didn’t have one — we had nothing,” continues the singer. “So Eddie starts pulling out all of these cassette tapes that were laying all over the floor and he’s just sticking them in the cassette player and hitting play, fast forward, play, fast forward, play — and all of the sudden we hear [Hagar imitates classic riff from ‘Dreams’]. All of us look at each other and we’re like, ‘Oh, that’s cool — what’s that?’ It wasn’t like a whole thing — he had the intro and then he had [that riff], so we all said, ‘Well, let’s work on that.’”
“So the band started working on it and got it sounding really pretty cool,” explains Hagar, “and then I’m going, ‘Oof, I don’t have any idea what to sing to that! I don’t have any idea what the lyrics for that are going to be,’ and Mick kept saying, ‘Come on!’ because we weren’t on a deadline, but we all wanted to get out to play. And then all of the sudden I was hanging it up, because it just didn’t hit me musically, as far as the melody and a lyric [to go along with it].”
At this point, Jones continued to work with Hagar to find a way to make the tune work.
“So Mick would come out to my house in the morning and for about a week, and we’d go for a walk on the beach and he would start humming things to try and inspire me,” he says. “‘What about this?’ And I’m going, ‘Arrrgh,’ and then all of the sudden, I just heard in my head, driving in — I had it in my car cassette player, I’m sure — and I’m listening, and I started going ‘Higher and higher’ in my head. So I kind of had a melody, I came in and I just started singing, and it was in that f—in’ register. I had never sang in that register ever in my life, but it just came out and I just kept singing it.”
The impact on Sammy and the band was immediate.
“Mick and everybody’s behind the counter, with their arms in the air and their f—in’ eyes buggin’ out and they hit the talkback and go, ‘Get in here!’ I come in there and they’re all going, ‘Oh my God, listen to this — this is unbelievable! I didn’t know you could sing like that!’ Eddie’s going, ‘How the f— are you doing that? If I’d known you could sing like that, damn, I would have written [more stuff like that].’ And I’m going, ‘I don’t know, I never sang like that.’ I didn’t know I had that range, you know?”
“So it just wrote itself — the lyrics, I just went in the other room and it just wrote itself once I had that part, the ‘higher and higher’ thing, you know, the chorus is ‘baby dry your eyes’ and all of that. So that’s how we wrote it.”
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