Runnin' With the Devil (3:35)

Cover of Best of Van Halen, Volume 1

From Best of Van Halen, Volume 1 and 27 other releases

Runnin’ with the Devil is a rock song and the first track from Van Halen’s 1978 eponymous debut album

The track fades in with the sound of a car horn. In many ways, this track is the song that started it all, being the first song from the first album and that it sets the tone for the Van Halen attitude when David Lee Roth was the singer in the band. The song has the interesting distinction of being one of the few songs from Van Halen’s early days where Eddie Van Halen used a guitar overdub. The car horns at the beginning were taken from the band’s cars and linked together with a battery. Just before the main riff begins, the high pitched sound of the guitar being strummed behind the nut can be heard. Runnin’ With the Devil is a song frequently played at games of the New Jersey Devils and Arizona State Sun Devils. This song was used as professional wrestler Davey Richards’ theme music. The song lyrics were inspired by the Ohio Players song “Runnin’ from the Devil”.

This song is featured in the movie Ready to Rumble as sung by a bus full of nuns and followed by the actual version by Van Halen. This song is also featured in the movies Little Nicky and Detroit Rock City.

It was performed on nearly every tour after its recording while with Roth, including the current reunion tour. It was performed very few times while Sammy Hagar was lead singer.

Musicologist Robert Walser argues that the song contrasts power and control, writing that, “the feeling of freedom created by the freedom of motion of the guitar solos and fills can be at various times supported, defended, or threatened by the physical power of the bass and the violence of the drums.


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