And The Cradle Will Rock…

“And the Cradle Will Rock…” is the first song on Women and Children First.

The hard-rocking “Cradle” was actually our introduction to Eddie Van Halen as a keyboardist. The keyboard parts were played on a Wurlitzer electric piano. The sound was fed into his MXR Flanger, and cranked through his 100-watt Marshall. The resulting sound was oddly guitar-like and contributed to this song’s haunting vibe. Still, Eddie received blowback from some of his bandmates. “They didn’t want a ‘guitar hero’ playing keyboards,” he recalled. “And that kind of ties in with why they didn’t want ‘Jump’.”

Oddly enough, the song’s intro was written using a guitar in the band’s tour bus. Two keys on the piano were broken while recording because Eddie was pounding on them so hard. The Wurlitzer that was used to record this song was used to write another Van Halen song before the release of Women and Children First. On the day Eddie bought the piano he wrote “Jump”.

On stage in 1980, the keyboard intro was played by Michael Anthony.

For some of the shows on the 2007-2008 tour, David Lee Roth said, “Have you seen Wolfie’s grades?” instead of the recording’s “Have you seen junior’s grades?” line.

Eddie Van Halen recalls: “Al and I jammed on the basic riff for ‘And the Cradle Will Rock’ two hours a day for two straight weeks. [laughs] We didn’t really know what to do with it, but we were having fun because it just sounded so wicked. Then, out of nowhere, the chorus came to us and it was finished. Sometimes you really have to work for inspiration. But ultimately, it’s not really work because my brother and I genuinely love to jam.

“The solo on that song is unusual. I do one short lick that’s very spontaneous. It came out because I had been listening to Allan Holdsworth, who I think is the baddest. This was a first take—a bunch of songs on that album were first takes.

“That was also the first time I played keyboards in the studio. A lot of people don’t know that because it doesn’t really sound like a keyboard. I had an old Wurlitzer electric piano and I pumped it through my Marshalls. I just pounded on the lower registers and put it through an MXR flanger to get that weird sound. Ted said, ‘Wow! What the hell is that?’ [laughs] ‘Oh, nothing, just me, screwing around.’ So we recorded it. That was my first encounter with the band not wanting me to play keyboards—when we did the song live, Mike played it. They didn’t want a guitar hero playing keyboards onstage.

“I thought Women and Children First would strike people as adventurous because of songs like this and ‘Could This Be Magic’ and ‘In a Simple Rhyme.’ Everybody says Fair Warning was a weird album, but I think this one is weirder. Maybe Fair Warning felt that way because the album cover was so bizarre. I think the music on it is actually very straightforward.”

1980 Lip-sync TV Performance:

And The Cradle Will Rock / Could This Be Magic? German 7"

And The Cradle Will Rock / Could This Be Magic? German 7″

And The Cradle Will Rock... / Loss Of Control UK 7"

And The Cradle Will Rock… / Loss Of Control UK 7″

 

And The Cradle Will Rock... / Everybody Wants Some UK 7" w/free sticker

And The Cradle Will Rock… / Everybody Wants Some UK 7″ w/free sticker

And The Cradle Will Rock... / Could This Be Magic? Japanese 7"

And The Cradle Will Rock… / Could This Be Magic? Japanese 7″

And The Cradle Will Rock... / Could This Be Magic? Netherlands 7"

And The Cradle Will Rock… / Could This Be Magic? Netherlands 7″

And The Cradle Will Rock… / Loss Of Control French 7″