Listening to Zappa’s podcast Runnin’ With The Dweezil often feels like being a fly on the wall. We get to hear two veteran guitarists talk shop. In the case of this podcast, it’s a shop filled with the sounds of Eddie Van Halen’s legendary guitar riffs, solos, bending licks and whatever other head scratching “how the hell did he do that?” sounds. Take Eddie’s elephant roars on Van Halen’s 1986 track “Good Enough” for example.
“[‘Good Enough’] might have been the first time – and I don’t know this to be exactly true but I feel like it is – the first time that he really did that horse harmonic sound,” said host Dweezil Zappa, who welcomed guitarist Mark Lettieri to the podcast to talk about Van Halen’s 5150 album. “I think it’s the first time where it’s really, heavily focused. ‘Cuz you hear it at the end of the song, it’s probably one of his most pronounced Hi Ho Silvers. It’s kinda tricky but it really comes down to having the right frequencies in your tone to let those [sounds] actually ring out. ‘Cuz it’s hard to get them to begin with but he obviously was quite good at it. In that song for sure.”
Listen To Van Halen “Good Enough”
Lettieri commented on how Eddie added subtle nuances to “Good Enough”.
“I’ve noticed a lot, listening to this record, I was like, ‘Man, Ed writes really cool rhythm parts and harmony parts for his solos on this record,” said Lettieri. “They’re almost these little mini compositions.”
Zappa responded, “That’s the thing that was always present in his music. There was this lack of fear to experiment in that way. He would do things, like, sometimes noise would be an actual part of a song. Like chickah or pick slides or other things became [part of the song]. It’s a sense of humor but also it’s a sense of – anything goes.”
Lettieri said the thick sound of Eddie’s guitar perfectly matches the theme of the lyrics which are about sex….or steak?
“The song is about steak and/or sex and so it kinda leaves your mouth watering in a strange kinda way! [laughs] Even though the lyrics are very straight up the middle, the context and the sound and the way the words kinda make — the images in your brain, to me, translate to the sound of the guitar really well,” said Lettieri. “I think that may have been a conscious choice. They wanted that low A [note] to sound like sizzling meat. [laughs] And it does!”
Zappa and Lettieri explore more of Eddie’s guitar work on “Good Enough” in the segment below:
The 30-episode “Runnin’ With The Dweezil” podcast is available exclusively through dweezilzappa.com. Packages include listening parties, Q&A sessions, “Brown Sound” bonus episodes, custom Axe-FX, Helix, and Kemper presets, a 1-year subscription to Premier Guitar, and much more.