Why Can't This Be Love?

Album: 5150 (1986)
Charted: 8 3

Songfacts®:

  • You probably wouldn't hear David Lee Roth sing about "that funny feeling again winding me up inside" (unless he was pointing to his crotch), but Sammy Hagar had a more sentimental streak that shows up in this lyric. He's making the case in this song that what he and his girl have must be love.
  • "Why Can't This Be Love?" was the first Van Halen single with Sammy Hagar as lead singer, replacing David Lee Roth. Hagar had plenty of cred as a rocker and went over as well as could be expected in his position. This song took the band in a more mature, melodic direction, which proved hit-worthy. The Van Hagar era was on, and the Sammy vs. Dave debates commenced.
  • Eddie Van Halen wrote the track on an Oberheim OB-8 keyboard. It was one of his first songs where Sammy Hagar said, "You don't mind if I follow your keyboard melody do you?" And Eddie said, "No, not at all," though he really didn't like the vocals to follow his instrumental parts. Eddie would rather the vocal line act as a counterpoint. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brian - Hazlet, NJ
  • When Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, only Hagar and bass player Michael Anthony attended the ceremony. Hagar performed this song with Paul Shaffer's band backing him up.
  • Replacing David Lee Roth in the studio was certainly a challenge for Sammy Hagar, but filling his shoes in concert was even more daunting. When Van Halen toured for 5150 (the first Van Halen album without David Lee Roth), Hagar, pushed to get Bachman–Turner Overdrive as the opening act, since the Canadian rockers could play a set of hits that would keep the crowd enthralled. BTO agreed, and dutifully delivered their hits. At the conclusion of their set, Van Halen wasted no time taking the stage; the short changeover was designed to minimize the inevitable "Where's Dave" calls from the audience.

    The ploy worked, as fans had no time for catcalls. Randy Bachman remembers jokingly referring to this song as "Why Can't This Be Lunch," with the BTO hit thus "Takin' Care of Breakfast."

Comments: 13

  • Diverdriver from Northern CaliforniaI saw them on this tour 2 nights in a row at the Cow Palace, and yes BTO opened. I've been to over 300 live concerts and these were, by far, the LOUDEST concerts I'd ever been to. I brought ear plugs for the 2nd night. I remember Sammy bringing his wife and kid on stage and throughout the show Sammy was yelling 5150!!
  • Anthony K from QueanbeyanHave you heard Devo 'girl you want, you'll be surprised.
  • Matthew from Utica, Michigan Edward Van Halen was using keyboards on the 1980 ‘Women and Children First’ album. The opening track, “And the Cradle Will Rock...” has distinctive Wurlitzer keyboards used in the entire song. So, Ken from Philadelphia, maybe you need to listen to your Van Halen better. Just sayin’
  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaVan Halen ceased to be Van Halen the day Eddie started writing songs on that darn keyboard instead of with a guitar in his hand because that is when he started putting those awful synthesizer melodies in the songs instead of guitar riffs. Could you imagine if Jimi Hendrix in his prime had done such a thing?! We can debate whether Eddie is Jimi's equal (he's not), but regardless, he's one of the greats. Yet starting in 1986.... really before that... he turned Van Halen into a synth pop band. Nobody has ever adequately explained why he did this and why Van Halen's fans didn't storm the castle walls when he did.
  • Paul from SuperiorEd-Wrongo Bongo. The "It's Got What It Takes" vibe was Pepsi, not Dr Pepper.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 27th 1986, Van Halen, with new lead singer Sammy Hagar, began their 112-date North American '5150-1986 Tour' at the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport, Louisiana...
    At the time the quartet’s "Why Can't This Be Love" was at #24 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and seven weeks later on May 11th, 1986 it would peak at #3 for one week...
    The week after reaching #3 it would drop down to #11; and on that same week their next release, "Dreams", would enter the Top 100 at #55, eventually it would peak at #22 {for 1 week}.
  • Paul from Superior, WiEd... there is a good reason for the commercial jingle vibe. The "It's got what it takes" line and melody IS right out of an old Dr. Pepper jingle. It is maddening if you have a tune memory.
  • Tim from Houston, Txdave was the "showboat" from hell,but he was a peice of the larger picture.They should have just changed the name to van hager.
  • Scott from Boston, MaI'll agree that Van Halen is much, much better w/ Roth, but this and "Dreams" are two great songs from the Hagar era.
  • Ed from Incognito, IlThis sounds like a beer commercial jingle. Not very good at all. Mike, from Hueytown, I agree with you 110%!
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlThere is no Van Halen without David Lee Roth !
  • Sean from Lake Charles, LaLove the guitar sounds right before "it's got what it take". Crazy about this song !
  • Mike from Denver, CoA great Van Hagar tune! I've always loved the keyboard/guitar parallel lines on this song--awesome riffing. And the guitar solo is vintage EVH like nobody else can do it. I know some folks (David Lee Roth in particular) were put off by Eddie adding keyboards to the mix, but this tune is another example of how well it worked for them. Awesome!
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