David Lee Roth’s Hand-Written Fair Warning Lyric Sheets Unveiled

We have something very special for the last day of “Fair Warning Week”, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Van Halen’s fourth album.

In front of your naked steaming eyes–David Lee Roth’s original hand-written lyric sheets!
These contain the original (but not final) lyrics for all four songs contained on “side A” of Van Halen’s Fair Warning album. These are from VHND.com’s archives and have never been seen anywhere before! They’ve been tucked away in a folder since early 1981 and we are very happy to be sharing them with fellow fans.

Note that the working title of “Sinner’s Swing” was “Get Out And Push” and from these papers we are able to decipher a couple lyrics that most fans interpreted incorrectly from the album:

Actual lyrics at 1:01:
“I may burn my fingers, want my iron in that fire” (Not “I’ll eat with my fingers”)

Actual lyrics at 2:19:
“Wearin’ out my welcome, guess I better save my breath” (not “Guess I better say my prayers”)

Can you spot all of the changes that Roth made to the lyrics by the time he recorded the vocals?

More of Roth’s hand-written lyrics from Fair Warning will be featured in a future VHND story.

Dirty Movies lyrics by David Lee Roth of Van Halen

Mean Street lyrics by David Lee Roth of Van Halen

Mean Street lrics by David Lee Roth of Van Halen

Sinners Swing lyrics by David Lee Roth of Van Halen

Sinners Swing lyrics by David Lee Roth of Van Halen

Hear About It Later lyrics by David Lee Roth of Van Halen

  • Michael C.

    @roth leaps…
    I’m left handed and play right handed guitar. That doesn’t mean anything.

  • jeff adams

    Dave is one of a kind w/ out a doubt. Not only does he have the coolest voice in the business but his lyrics are classic. Dave was funny but yet serious at the same time. A true professional. I know I’m repeating myself, and I’m sure most people will agree w/ me, when Dave would forget the words to Romeo Delight in concert it was his way of being funny and it was all part of the show, and I for one loved it. My buddies and I would laugh are ass off at all of Daves antics.

  • 51504VH

    @Craig…I have done that with several of Dave’s lyrics (Made my own up) because I didn’t understand them. I have always sang “Who’s that kid with the bong and the bottle?” lol.

    I have been one of those people that have accused Dave of not making sense with his lyrics but when I have the opportunity to read them, they make perfect sense and are actually really clever.

    I can’t wait for the new album and tour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anthony

    I think “Janie” in Ed’s wife. Looks like the lyrics sheet says “Genie”. I always thought it was “Come see baby now”. Cool either way. BTW, I’m pretty sure Dave is righty. I am right handed but have a “lefty” slant and everyone thinks I’m lefty. I think Janie did do some nude scenes as a body double no?

  • fletch5150

    Hopefully there will be sheets for Everybody Wants Some!! found someday,

  • “Lemon Scented Pledge” (bbl70)

    WOW VHND!!! Such an unbelieveable job with Fair Warning week!!! I am in awe of you. Hats off with a twirl and a bow!!!

  • PCH

    Agreed that Dave is right handed. But as stated above, I ALSO am left handed and play guitar right handed. I started on my dad’s guitar about 25 yrs. ago. They just didn’t have left handed guitars for beginners back then…

  • SCAR

    Cool shit!!! The Diamond one rules!!!!!!

  • Sparks in ’11

    Leaps “There are lots of photos and YouTube video of him playing acoustic guitar intro for “Ice Cream Man” and it’s ALWAYS a right-handed guitar.”

    I play righty, write lefty. Don’t matter what he is. He bad ass & dats dat!

  • tom


  • Carnal Knowledge

    “Proven fact that he’s right-handed”…..blah blah blah

    There’s the eternal extremist RothLeaps, trying to verbally bury somebody by proclaiming a ‘FACT’…

    I swing golf clubs right handed. Swing a baseball bat right handed. Write right handed. Play pool left handed. Ride a snowboard goofyfoot. These are FACTS. Does that make me ambidextrious?

  • In A Simple Rhyme

    Happy birthday Alex Van Halen, cheers to the best drummer in the world! Tell the rest of guys at 5150 to finish the album soon. No More Waiting. 🙂

  • http://www.danwilhite.com Dan

    pretty freakin’ cool!

  • shawn

    these are obviously not first draft versions. these were all written on the same paper with the same pen. but obviously early enough that some of the early lines didn’t end up on the recording.

    pretty cool!

  • TearItUp

    This is VERY COOL stuff right here!! An up close look at Diamond Dave dropping pen to paper & coming up with his signature lyrics on VH’s best album!!

    Thanks VH News Desk!!

  • drop dead legs

    happy birthday Alex!!
    Excellent post VHND!! – however how did you guys come to end up with them??? and since 1981!!!!????? I’ve never seen Dave’s cursive handwriting before (he generally writes in non-cursive script and all Capitals)- very cool!! he has a great hand(writing) very descriptive,ledgible,quite extroverted and open …. a true sign of the man himself…..(lots of open loops but also very upright)he isnt a southpaw (guitar, writing autographs, etc,) sometimes you’ll get some dolt who’ll publish a picture the wrong way around showing him as a lefty but his face is a dead giveaway in these shots – he doesnt look like Dave …. plus the mole he has is on the normally on the right side of his face and I’ve seen published shots showing it on the left….. southpaw or not, he’s allright with me 🙂

  • Hunter

    This album rocks…thanks for posting…

  • K Beck

    Here is my point. Sammy seems to whine about Dave’s lyrics (like in his book when he bitches about singing Jump), but dave’s lyrics are so freaking poetic it kills me. Almost always has a sense of humor, and when he doesn’t, it’s this weird dark/cool outlook (push comes to shove “It says you’re a stranger here in paradise you fool, It feels like 40 days and 40 nights since someone used my first name, including you…” just as an example). Sammy ‘can’ write some good stuff when really pushed, but the majority of his lyrics in Van Halen are shit (like Spanked).

  • matt king

    DLR’s lyrics on display, combined with the monumental fact that Fair Warning is celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary, is incredible.
    Fair Warning was incredible in every way, and very avante garde, considering everyone was expecting a “sell out” pop album, and instead they got the “full package.” Major hits, serious rockers, incredible instrumentals, great vocals, and timeless lyrics.
    Even the story behind the cover art, is incredible.

    Although I love all The Van Halen albums, you could make a strong argument, that this one is the most “timeless.”
    You could re release it tomorrow morning, and it would blow people door’s off.

  • whatsupquiqui

    This is… Pfff! Beauuuuutiful!

  • Eric

    Just a question:

    I have ALWAYS heard the lyric from “Dirty Movies” as “so obscene but to me it don’t matter,” and that is how it appears in the hand written lyrics.

    But millions of lyrics elsewhere show it as “A ‘so what?’ scene but to me it don’t matter.”

    So am I right, and virtually everywhere else wrong, or did he change the lyrics from what I always thought I heard to something I only think I thought I heard?

    I’m going with he is really sining “So obscene” and all the lyrcis sites are just copying someone’s misinterpreted mistake!