TONECHASER – Understanding Edward: My 26-Year Journey with Edward Van Halen

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This topic has 9 voices, contains 48 replies, and was last updated by  unchainedheart 6 days ago.

January 4, 2023 at 10:29 pm Quote #66119

wjamflan
(1061)

Upon the release of the book in October of 2022, I asked the following questions:

1. Is the book about Ed’s life, or just Steven’s interactions with him?
2. Is there anything new ABOUT ED in the book?
3. Is it worth buying a copy?

Why was I asking those questions? Because the promotional descriptions of the book were not very illuminating. After reading the 580 page “memory journal” or “chronicle filled with observations, illuminations, and interpretations”, I will now attempt to answer those questions for anyone else considering buying the book.

TONECHASER is about Steven’s interactions with Edward Van Halen. It is, in Steve’s words, “not a biography, a history, or an exacting chronology. You won’t find discussions about tapping, taping, or touring. There are no in-depth analyses of album releases…” An even though he originally envisioned writing an autobiography with “pages filled mainly with Edward’s voice, supported by quotes from the dozens and dozens of auxiliary interviews” he’d gathered, that book was never written. The reason: Edward never sat with him “for any formal book-related interviews because the book never progressed that far.” What you get instead is the contents of the “Twilight Tapes”, “informal and unscripted conversations” held “over the course of about five years” (1985-1990) when Steve was “working in earnest on the book”, as well as (supposedly) unedited interviews conducted for guitar and music magazines from 1978 – 1996, and other recorded and remembered interactions. Steve attempts to weave these seemingly disparate episodes into a cohesive narrative with his “observations, illuminations, and interpretations” in hopes of capturing “who Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was and let him loose on the printed page.”

While anybody who has read and/or collected the printed Rosen-Van Halen interviews over the years will recognize many of the Eddie quotes within, there are some new revelations about Ed to be found. For example, I did not know that it was Jan Van Halen who named Eddie’s acoustic solo on Van Halen II, “Spanish Fly”. I was also not aware that Eddie had played on Tim Bogert’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, nor did I know that Eddie had expressed his dislike for Sammy Hagar’s songwriting abilities. But honestly, new revelations are few and far between for anyone who has been paying attention over the years. In addition, some of the “informal and unscripted conversations” that Steve clearly feels are profound revelations into Eddie’s psyche and character fell a little bit flat and seemed like rambling to me. These conversations seemed to hold more importance for him as a participant and stakeholder in the discussion than they did for me as a reader.

Should you buy a copy? If you are a die-hard Eddie Van Halen fan who has to have everything available about the man, then yes. Is it indispensable for the casual fan of the band? No.

In short, you will learn as much or more about Steve Rosen in this book as you will about Eddie Van Halen. You will learn about why Steve thought that Edward was his friend. You will also gain insight into Steve’s own neuroses when it comes to how he asked questions and how he interacted with someone who was not a social peer. Finally, you may come away with the sense of what could have been, if only Ed had allowed Steve to write his story, and I think this was intentional. The tragedy of a true American success story not being properly told is palpable. Who knows? Maybe Steve will decide to follow in the footsteps of Greg Renoff and write Eddie’s biography using more of the many “auxiliary interviews” that were not included in TONECHASER – I, for one, wish he would. However, given what Steve has reported in this book, I don’t think it will happen. It’s just too personal for him, and that is the true tragedy.


“This hamburger don’t need no helper.” – DLR 5/17/15


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January 6, 2023 at 9:17 am Quote #66121

unchainedheart
(1815)

thanks for the review,it took off that little bit of regret left for not buying this book.I bought Eruption:conversation with EVH and loved evey line of it.I also did buy the Guitar World Presents Eddie Van Halen that you’ve mention in an earlier post and it arrive in a week or so.Thanks again for taking the time to make this review


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January 6, 2023 at 10:26 pm Quote #66122

wjamflan
(1061)

unchainedheart: thanks for the review,it took off that little bit of regret left for not buying this book.I bought Eruption:conversation with EVH and loved evey line of it.I also did buy theGuitar World Presents Eddie Van Halen that you’ve mention in an earlier post and it arrive in a week or so.Thanks again for taking the time to make this review

You’re welcome. Glad it helped someone.


“This hamburger don’t need no helper.” – DLR 5/17/15


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January 23, 2023 at 1:28 pm Quote #66168

unchainedheart
(1815)

wjamflan: You’re welcome. Glad it helped someone.

Thanks Bill,i just received the book you told me about “GW presents EVH”and it’s better than i thought because i thought it was multiple volumes in a magazine format but no it’s almost as big as ERUPTION:conversation with EVH.It”s paperback but the cover is a bit thicker than the usual paperback.Anyway,all in all,i’m very happy with it so i just want to take the time to thank you buddy, i truly appreciate the time you took for the review and pointed me in the right direction.


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