Right Now

Album: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)
Charted: 55

Songfacts®:

  • One of the most popular songs of the Sammy Hagar Van Halen era, "Right Now" is a message about living in the moment. It came at a time of worldwide political change, especially in Eastern Europe and The Soviet Union.
  • Eddie Van Halen wrote the music for "Right Now" during the David Lee Roth era, but Roth had no interest in it. It wasn't until 1991 that the song finally came together. Sammy Hagar, determined to write an inspiring lyric with no trace of sex or hedonism, came up with the "Right Now" title and concept. Eddie would play the piano riff in the studio while they were making the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and one day it clicked that it was the right music for the lyric Hagar was working on. The pair completed the song together when the album was almost done.
  • In 1993, this was used in commercials for Crystal Pepsi, a clear cola. The commercials were good, but the product was a huge flop as consumers decided they would rather not see through their soft drink. The group was criticized for "selling out" when the ads came out, but they did it because Pepsi was going to use the song with or without them. Pepsi got the rights to the song, and would have had a sound-alike group record it. Van Halen figured it was best to let them use their version and at least get paid for it.
  • The For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album, their third with Sammy Hagar, was out for eight months before "Right Now" was released as a single. It didn't chart well, but the album went to #1 in America and sold three million copies there.
  • The first letters of the album title spell out a naughty word. This was intentional.
  • The video displayed socially conscious messages about safe sex and other hot-topic issues of the time. Sammy Hagar hated the idea because he thought the subtitles would distract attention away from the song. "I said, 'I am not doing it,'" he told the UK TV show Video Killed the Radio Star. "I said, 'I wrote the best lyric I've ever written in Van Halen, I'm trying to upgrade this band's image with lyrics to where we're finally not just a party band that can play instruments, and they wanna put words underneath? Why don't they use the words I wrote? They're great words. It's a statement. It's gonna be confusing!'"

    Hagar retreated to South Carolina and wouldn't return anyone's phone calls until Warner chairman Mo Ostin called him and convinced him to do it. Unfortunately, Hagar ended up getting pneumonia and had a miserable time shooting the video - and it shows. "If you look at my attitude in the video I'm like [crosses arms]. I wouldn't even cooperate."
  • The video won for Best Video, Best Editing, and Best Direction at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.
  • Around this time, the British band Jesus Jones had a popular song out called "Right Here, Right Now," which has a similar theme but is slightly more political. Van Halen's song is more specifically about personal empowerment.
  • Carolyn Mayer Beug, who also worked with Rod Stewart and Dwight Yoakam, co-directed the video with Mark Fenske. She was on board flight 11, which was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
  • As the closing credits roll on the 1984 movie The Wild Life, starring Eric Stoltz and Chris Penn, an instrumental version of "Right Now" is playing, and sure enough the music credits include Eddie Van Halen. All of this eight years before the song is released, this time with lyrics, on For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bill - Clinton, IL
  • The old phone number of a friend of the band was written on the album cover. It belonged to a family in Tulsa, who got besieged by phone calls and sued the band.
  • In 1993 Van Halen released their first live album and named it after this song, calling it Live: Right Here, Right Now.
  • During the 2008 presidential campaign, "Right Now" was played at a Republican Party rally following Sarah Palin's introductory speech, after she'd been chosen as John McCain's running mate. A statement was made regarding its use by an unnamed member of Van Halen's management, which said: "Permission was not sought or granted nor would it have been given [to use the song]."

    Sammy Hagar, who co-wrote and sang the song, was more positive. He said in a statement: "When I wrote the lyrics to 'Right Now' I intended them to inspire people to not sit around and wait for something they believed in but to go out and get it - to make a change however they needed to. Whether it was McCain who used the song or if Obama had chosen to use the song, with the current political climate, the lyrics still have the same meaning, and we all need to do something to make a difference, every action counts."

    This wasn't the first time the song was used in a political setting. George W. Bush used it during at least one rally in 2006.

    In 2011, Time magazine called it "the most misused song in GOP politics," pointing out that in the video, the graphic "Right now oil companies and old men are in control" flashes on the screen.
  • Speaking with Guitar World in 1991, Eddie Van Halen talked about how Joe Cocker would have been a great vocalist on this song. "If there was any other vocalist I'd like to make a record with, it would be Joe," he said. "That song has that classic 'Feelin' Alright' groove."

Comments: 16

  • Sammy from CaliforniaWhy can't anyone get the lyrics right?!?! It's not "One more walk through problems", it's "One by one, little problems". Geez people!!!
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenPepsi or no Pepsi, this is still an upbeat, optimistic song and I've always loved it.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxI actually liked Crystal Pepsi. Tasty.
  • Mike from Richmond, VaActually, guys, Mark Fenske directed the video, and he's alive and well.
  • Brian from New York, NyYeah, I remember them playing this at Messier night.

    LETS GO RANGERS!
  • Michael from Colorado Springs, CoSome of the "Right Now"s include

    Right now, dogs have it good
    Right now, a boy is starving
    Right now, you can't pronounce that boy's country's name
    Right now, old men and oil companies rule
    Right now, Youth is King
    Right now, people work too hard for too little
    Right now, Eddie is busy...
    Right now, your having trouble reading these
    Right now, no one is safe from loneliness
    Write Now.
    Now
    Right now is harder than it looks.
  • Kory from Atlanta, GaI saw these guys in Atlanta in September 2004. It was my first "real" rock concert. I loved it. And this was the first time that I had heard Right Now. Come to find out, it's now among my top 10 songs ever! The video was also played in the background, and like someone said, in the background it said "Right now Van Halen is kicking ass in Atlanta." That got the crowd pumped up. But here's my question. Does anyone know where I can find the dialogue to the music video? I downloaded the video but it would be hard to right down all of it. Although I may try. The words to the video are even more true than the song itself!!
  • Donald from Festus, Mooh my god... crystal pepsi... what a flop indeed. I, for one, like the idea... for like a day then when it isnt amusing anymore i would return to regular pepsi... actually kool-aid recently did the same thing! But this is a good song its a shame most ppl know it as the crystal pepsi song
  • Rich from Wappingers Falls, Nythis song was also used on 1993-1994 new york rangers highlight film during the eastern division conference finals when the rangers were down 3 games to 2. mark messier guarranted a game 6 victory...and with the rangers down 2-0 in game 6..he took the team and game on his shoulders an the rangers rallied to win the game 4-2..won game 7 to clinch the series then went on to win the stanley cup against vancover
  • Josh from Las Vegas, NvMy dad told me a long time a go that "the word" stood for Fornication Under Consent of the King. This isn't the first time I've found him to be wrong.
  • Otto from Miami, FlJames,

    Take a look at the first letter of each word in the album name.
  • James Ford from Sarasota, FlWhat is the naughty word the album title spells out?
    -James, Tampa, FL
  • Ralph from Cleveland, OhOne of my all-time favorites.
    I dropped everything, so to speak, at age 26 and decided to go to college as a non-traditional student. The lyrics of this song are almost as if they were written specifically for someone in that situation. I could pick out some verses here to illustrate that, but really, it's almost the entire song. Check the lyrics, you'll see what I mean. This song often helped with motivation come finals week. I got my degrees in 2000, by the way. Thanks, Van Halen, for such a GREAT motivational song!
  • Siri from Milwaukee, WiAbout For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge: Apparently, back when people were still being crucified, if they were being executed for rape, above the crucifix hung a sign that said 'For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge'. Carnal Knowledge refers to sex and unlawful carnal knowledge would be rape. So, this seems to be one of the seemingly many origins of that naughty word.
  • Tom from St. Louis, MoYeah, the video is great...it really helped the song out. However, the song is amazing by itself. I heard it in concert this summer, and they used the video in the back, but altered it to fit our concert. At the end, it said "Right Now, Van Halen is kicking *ss in St. Louis"
  • Kristina from San Antonio, TxVery innovative video. One of the better Van Hagar songs.
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