Album: 1984 (1984)
Charted: 61 13
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  • Panama is a country in Central America famous for its canal, but it has nothing to do with the song. The lyrics are about a stripper David Lee Roth met in Arizona. As he explained on The Howard Stern Show, the song came about after an interview Roth gave in the early '80s; the interviewer accused him of only writing lyrics about sex, drugs, and fast cars. Sometime either during or after the interview, Diamond Dave realized he'd never actually written a song about fast cars, so he started working on the lyrics to "Panama," which he later admitted in another interview that, as it turns out, he had been writing about a stripper he knew without realizing it. The finished lyrics were inspired by both the stripper and the car. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ryan - Eaton, IN
  • There is a Top Fuel car called "Panama" that appears in the video. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    john - New York, NY
  • In the video, Michael Anthony played a bass shaped like a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey, which the company custom made for him. This was a product placement coup, since MTV had a strict policy against advertising within videos - they made ZZ Top remove a shot of Schlitz beer from one of their clips before they would air it. By integrating the product into Anthony's bass, there was no good way to remove it, and MTV wasn't about to turn down a Van Halen video in 1984.
  • This was one of the first songs recorded at Eddie Van Halen's 5150 studios. "5150" is California police code for a mentally unstable person causing a disturbance.
  • The album cover, which showed a baby on the cover smoking a cigarette, caused a bit of controversy. Some UK record stores refused to stock it.
  • This was one of the last Van Halen songs recorded with David Lee Roth as lead singer. He was replaced by Sammy Hagar in 1986.
  • Some of the scenes in the video where David Lee Roth is doing fun stuff like riding in a convertible, was footage shot for the "Jump" video but not used. Both videos were co-directed by Pete Angelus, who also did "Hot For Teacher."
  • This song is used in the intro video for the driving video game Gran Turismo 4. It is also used during gameplay. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sean - Round Rock, TX
  • During the bridge of the song, after Roth says, "I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off it," you can hear the sound of a car revving in the background. The car is Eddie Van Halen's 1972 Lamborghini Miura S. Van Halen has stated that he is an avid car collector. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Doug - Indianapolis, IN

Comments: 51

  • FactsI thought about it and decided, who cares? That song and video are so much fun they still make me smile. I miss those guys!

    Compared to Van Halen and a lot of rockers from their era today’s musicians are a bunch of no talent pu--ies.
  • George Pope from Vancouver - CanadaIt COULD be about a car -- she's coming home with me = a race for pink slips(ownertship) as in I'll be he one going home with 2 cars. You'll lose her in the tuyrn = I'm really good & will overtake you in that final turn & win me a Panama roadster. Only the writer(s) know for sure -- but most good poets(incl lyradcists) intend for their audience to interpret as they will. So all suggested meanings are correct, & none are. Who cares? A mot excellent song when it came out (I was a young teen, high as a kite, & loving VH's hard rock sound)
  • Marita from La Verne, CaI thought it always said "I reach down between my legs n' ease the SEED BAG".
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI recall this song being one the US military played repeatedly over loudspeakers to force Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega out of the Vatican embassy in 1990.
  • Seth from NanaimoI think that to say the song is about a car or the song is about a stripper is too broad of a definition for what actually goes into writing a song. Panama is also a play on words. Of course Roth isn't going to say that in a public interview. That would instantly diminish the coolness and mystique of the play on words forever, and what singer does that to their songs? We know this writing tactic by VH in albums like OU812, and so many other word plays in their lyrics that escape me right now. But the real clue is that everything he says about the "car" leads up to "don't you know she's coming home with me, you'll lose her in the turn. I'll get her" So here leads into the chorus, and in this context, what does Panama really mean when you factor in the play on words? And maybe there IS a car called "Panama" But what makes this particular car worthy of a song? When I was a little kid I probably thought "Panama" was about the canal or the country. In fact I probably didn't care what it meant, because at that age I just figured rock stars sang whatever they wanted whether it made sense or not. It wasn't until I got a little older and understood the song's lyrics, and VH's word tricks a little better that I realized that "Panama' wasn't about Panama. It was just about your ma. lol
  • Rabbit Bunny from Westminster MdYes! Panama is about Eddie's hot rod machine!
  • Drew from Allentown, PaHaha, wow, good one Brett.
  • Dave from Oak Park, MiPat Boone did this song on IN A METAL MOOD and some of the words changed.
  • Scott from UsPanama Red cannabis is a famous high potency cannabis. It is a SATIVA so it does not make you sit around on the couch and get fat! It nakes your brain fly!
    You either know or you don't!
    It is also mentioned in the Van Halen song Amsterdam.
  • Lionel Ulloa from Panama, PanamaI'm Panamanian, but this song have nothing to do with my country Panamá. Back in 1984, I was 14 year old rock brat when this song hit the radio stations and I love it from the first time (since my first record bought was VH Diver Down). There is many histories involved with this song, so I think must be taken to the point of poll, voting or discuss. During guitar solo there is a bridge where you can hear the motorbreathing (between 2'45 and 2'50 minutes) of the Eddie Van Halen's Ferrari you can hear it twice when pump the pedal to accelerate it. ["...Yeah, we're runnin' a little bit hot tonight
    I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off
    You know what I'm sayin'
    Ahh, I reach down between my legs n' ease the seat back"]

    It is about a Ferrari called Panama and and backseat sex with a stunning stripper. David Lee Roth wears like a sailor doing pole dancing using a Panama Hat on the video that also put on the map the myth that the Van Halen brother have during that time a yatch called "Panama".
  • Tj from Boston, MaThe song Panama is about David Lee Roth's special "Panama Enema" that he administers to lucky male house guests. Listen to the lyrics, and you can clearly see what I am talking about.
  • Miles from Cheyenne, WyI dont remember where I read it or heard it, but it is definentely about a car. He was sitting at a race way when he came up with the idea for the song/or wrote it, dont remember which one. Part of being a good song writer is being able to manipulate words so that more people can relate to the song, therefore a bigger audience
  • Charlie from Las Vegas, Nvi dont give a damn what you guys think, this is a cool song no matter what the overall meaning!
  • Jesse from Bob, ArubaI always thought that "don't you know she's coming home with me" meant that the person racing was racing in a contest to win a car or is racing in a street race trying to win on a bet. like it's two people talking to each other

    first person: don't you know she's coming home with me?"

    second person: you'll loose her in the turn.

    just a thought
  • Crizzle from Rincon, GaI love this song, especially the chorus. PANAMA!!!
  • Daevid from Glendale, CaGreat rocker!
  • Austin from Bristow, VaSexy song. Van Halen rocks.
  • Sharkman from Livonia, MiAfter this song came out in the Eighties, I heard David Lee Roth in a radio interview say that he was always beeing accused of writing songs about cars, but he never wrote one. So, Panama was his first song about a car that was named Panama. This is exactly how David explained it.
  • George from Gorgetownn, Barbados5150 is the California Welfare and Institutions Code Section for an Involuntary Psychiatric Hold. Maybe you have seen the verb as in "Brittany Spears was recently 5150'ed"
  • Ohlala from Washington Dc, DcPanama? Little drug runner plane in the beginning of the video, DLR flying across the stage seconds later? COCAINE!!! I mean, come on, it the was the early eighties. Even PTA moms in some of the posher suburbs in America did that stuff. In the video, three of the guys even slide down white poles- lines, rails, what have you. And all the racing, speeding imagery, well yea, if you've done coke, you know what that's all about. And the sex and booze? Well that just makes the high even better! If it were about weed, Van Halen would be all fat and laying around like the Grateful Dead, not jumping and doing high kicks! This is the early eighties, alll about amphetamines.
  • Sam from Thompsons, TxI just heard this song on superbad and now im hooked on van halen, awesome stuff.
  • Homzd from O-town, NvIt's a asong about sex, drugs, cars and rock 'n roll. That is what VH, and especially DLR, were all about in their early days.
  • Jay from Jackson, Mssorry i accidently posted that twice. + i ment to say: sporty, not sport
  • Jay from Jackson, MsGuys listen up, its about Eddies sport new car called panama
  • Tarrah from Kingsville, Canada....Riiiiight, it's about weed...whatever. I'm more inclined to think he's using the car as a metaphor for a woman rather than for weed. And if it is just an insinuation for sex, it's a pretty good one I must say.
  • Seth from New Kensington, PaI first herd this song in GT4 and it got me into Van Halen. VH kicks ass.
  • Chris from Mansfield, TxThis is a song on a video game Gran Turismo 4. it is playing in the intro also.
  • Jenni from Regina, CanadaAlrighty people listen up this song is about a guy singing how hes gonna get the hottest girl around in bed tonight while racing other guys.
  • Waldo from Calumet City, IlOk... here's the deal minions... Diamond Dave himself said in an interview after the album came out that it's simply about one of his classic cars: a candy-apple-red 1951 Mercury Low Rider... which one of his childhood friends used to drool over (and sometimes drive) when Dave didn't feel like driving it around town. So NO it's NOT about strippers, pot, or anything else!
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaThis song is about palindromes. "A man, a plan, a canal - Panama!"
  • Robert from Myrtle Beach, Scsounds like a Racing song to me.

    "Don't ya know she's coming home with me
    You'll lose her in that turn
    I'll get her!"

    ever hear the term "pink slip"? this is racing, all the way.

    high energy, loud stadium sound, God i love this band
  • Fred from New York, NyWhat led anyone to believe the song is about marijuana? The song has no references to delusions and the sound doesn't have the slightest inkling of a feeling of psychedelia.

    The name of the album was "1984".
  • Olivia from Perth, Australiaok......I never actually listened to the lyrics, I just love the whole tune and the music, it's catchy. Hmmm....maybe now i've read these comments of it being about a stripper I won't be able to enjoy it as much.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI always thought it was about sex. But that's not the only interpretation.
  • John from Wall, NjNo its about sex. You just proved it yourself. It says through my bedroom. It also says reach down between my legs. Now, what does that have to do with a car? It uses metaphors of the car to describe the girl and how they have intercourse. And she's coming home with me, that also is what it means.
  • Ryan from Ray, Mihmm...."Here she comes, full blast and TOP DOWN"

    yeah, top down on a convertible, i know, but i dont think the stripper idea is far off, this song could be interpreted in a couple different ways.
  • Phil from Niagara Falls, Canadathis is great but i like "Jump" better, i dont know why this one is more popular
  • High from Ct, CtIt is about the marijuana bud called panama red. ITs all about smoking weed.
  • Steve from Oroville, CaI know what this song is really about. David Lee Roth read in a magazine that all he wrote songs about were sex, cars, and parties. But he realized that he had never written a song about cars. So one day at the drag strip he was inspiried to write this song after a car was named " Panama ". Even check the classic VH web site.
  • Julian from Oakland, ArThis song was an huge part of a plot on the Drew Carey Show. The character of Mimi played this song over and over again to annoy Drew.
  • Tim from Dupont, WaDefinitely about sex. David had a one track mind huh?
  • Alec from Sewell, NjHeard Dave Lee Roth used to jump all around the stage while they performed this song. I'm not too big a fan of Van Halen, but I love this song!
  • Tom from St. Louis, MoThis song is great! Heard it in concert, people go crazy over this song.
  • Kurt from Downers Grove, IlI always thought this song was about a motorcycle. Just look at the lyrics. Am I right, people?
  • Billy from Pittsburgh, PaLike the Songfacts say, I'm pretty sure the song's about a stripper. Just look at the lyrics...he's singing about a woman.
  • Nate from Buffalo, NyTheir song amsterdam mentions panama red
  • Rob from Bayonne, NjFollowing the guitar solo before the hook the noises you hear are Eddies Lamborghini being revved.
  • Jason from Wylie, Txseems like a sex metaphor to me not weed
  • Travis from Blicksburg, VaIronically this song was covered by gospel singer Pat Boone :it's on his album "In a metal mood".
  • Brett from Edmonton, CanadaNo, it's about sex (get it, canal?).
  • Lee from Durham, Ncthis song is about panama red...a dank type of marijuana
see more comments

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