This Day in ’78: “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” Released


On this day in 1978 (Oct 25th), Van Halen released “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love!”

A standout track from the first Van Halen album, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” began life as a satirical commentary on the late 70s punk scene. Initially, Ed was unsure about the song. He felt it was a trivial tune, maybe too simple, and was actually reluctant to bring it to the band. He shouldn’t have worried. It went on to become one of the most popular Van Halen songs ever, remaining on the concert set list to the present, over 35 years later.

This song, like pretty much all of early Van Halen, sounds as fresh today as when it was first released.

In “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” Ed’s sound was never browner. He processes his patented and imme­diately recognizable cranked Marshall tone with phasing (MXR Phase 90) and echo (Echoplex tape delay) for a particularly attrac­tive greasy result that colors the arrangement perfectly. This song is classic Van Halen, straight from the kegger beer bashes and backyard parties of the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles. Gut-level rock ‘n’ roll for the ages.

“Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” is an extremely popular song which borders on being a Van Halen-flavored punk epic, especially with closing “Hey! Hey! Hey!” chant. This has a darker feel than most of the album, especially with the lyrics in the breakdown:

“I’ve been to the edge and there I stood and looked down, you know I’ve lost a lot of friends there baby, ain’t got time to mess around…”


“‘Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love’ was originally supposed to be a punk rock parody,” Eddie Van Halen told Guitar World. “It was a stupid thing to us, just two chords. It didn’t end up sounding punk, but that was the intention.

“I doubled the solo section with an electric sitar. It could have been a Coral, but it looked real cheap. It looked like a Danelectro. I never really knew it was an electric sitar, because it didn’t sound like one. It just sounded like a buzzy-fretted guitar. That thing was real bizarre.”

The song was written in one day in the basement of David Lee Roth’s parents’ home in 1977 (along with “Bullethead”). Dave’s house was often used as a rehearsal space. Eddie felt this song was the “lamest” song he had ever written. It took him six months to work up the nerve to show it to the rest of the band. This song and “Loss of Control” were written to poke fun at the emerging punk scene. Van Halen weren’t punk, yet one they they had in common with the punk bands was that they went for immediacy and short punchy tunes, rather than over-elaboration in the meandering epics born of the Prog Rock era of the 1970s. When Van Halen arrived, it was almost as if the bloated and over-indulgent early years of that decade had never happened.

Velvet Revolver performed this at the 2007 ceremonies when Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

2 Live Crew sampled a riff from this song without permission for their 1990 song The Fuck Shop and was subsequently sued by Van Halen, who sought $300,000 for copyright infringement. The suit was filed on 12/17/90.

This song was one of the first songs Green Day’s Billie Joe learned to play. “I listened to a lot of early Van Halen and I learned to play “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love,” which is like near genius.”

The 7″ single was the fourth and final single release from Van Halen. “Feel Your Love Tonight” was the B-side on the U.S. release (The Japan release featured Runnin’ With The Devil as the B-Side). This song appears on the albums Van HalenBest of Volume 1,  Live: Right Here, Right Now, and The Best Of Both Worlds.

From Guitar World:

Eddie Van Halen has downplayed “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” as “just a stupid thing. Just two chords.” But to paraphrase Spinal Tap, there’s a fine line between stupid and clever. And this classic cut from Van Halen’s 1978 debut falls firmly into the latter category.

“Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” was one of the last songs ever written for Van Halen, and Eddie originally conceived the straightforward, two-chord basher (the majority of the song follows a basic Am-G chord progression) as a knock on the then-burgeoning punk movement. But apparently “punk rock” as played by Eddie Van Halen includes an opening riff built on heavily palm-muted, arpeggiated cords, a third-verse breakdown filled with chiming harmonics, and a hooky, almost vocal – like guitar solo that, on the album version, Eddie doubled with a Coral electric sitar. Of playing the sitar, he recalls, “It sounded like a buzzy-fretted guitar. The thing was a real bizarre.”

In the end, perhaps the joke was on Ed, as “Love” has gone on to become one of Van Halen’s most iconic tunes. In addition to being a classic-rock radio staple, it’s been played on every tour the band has done with Roth. And in perhaps an even greater testament to its popularity, it was one of the few DLR-era songs that remained in live sets during the Sammy Hagar years.

Isolated Guitar Track:


I heard the news baby, all about your disease
Yeah you may have all you want, baby, but I got somethin’ you need
Oh yeah, ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
My love is rotten to the core
Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
Just like I told you before, yeah before
You know you’re semi-good lookin’, and on the streets again
Oh yeah you think you’re really cookin’ baby, you better find yourself a friend
My friend, ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
My love is rotten to the core
Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
Just like I told you before, uh before, uh before, before
Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
Babe it’s rotten to the core
Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
Just like I told you before, uh before
I been to the edge, an’ there I stood an’ looked down
You know I lost a lot of friends there baby, I got no time to mess around
Mmmm, so if you want it got to bleed for it baby
Yeah, got to got to bleed baby
Mmmm, you got to got to bleed baby
Hey, got to got to bleed baby
Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
My love is rotten to the core
Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
Just like I told you before, before, before
Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
Don’t wanna talk about love
Don’t need to talk about love
Ain’t gonna talk about love, no more, no more, ah
Hey Hey Hey
Hey Hey Hey
[Repeat til outro]