The Race to Save Van Halen History
We shouldn't count on social media to care as much as we do about Van Halen's legacy.
I’ve spent the past few weeks deep inside the previous edition of the Van Halen Encyclopedia, starting a change log, sizing up the scope of updates, and putting the format of the book up for a vote here on Substack.
The physical book format was your favorite. I’m not surprised, but it does mean excluding a lot of images of magazine covers, tickets, and memorabilia. Photos can easily double or triple the retail price of a book.
What’s been weighing on my mind isn’t cost, though. It’s the impermanence of source material.
As social media services, and older Van Halen sites, become less reliable — and sometimes die off — citing sources has become more of an issue. Sure, The Internet Archive helps a little, but the amount of searching, scraping, and saving required to preserve some small percentage of this band’s history has been daunting. It’s almost as if it’s all trying to be forgotten.
That’s not even getting into the transcribing needed from Van Halen podcasts and YouTube videos, whose interviewees (just like myself) aren’t getting any younger.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to for the past few weeks — archiving as much as I can (especially from Twitter) before it all goes poof!
There’s some great stuff in that backlog that I had forgotten:
The possible origin of the title OU812 (could it be related to this too?)
There’s hundreds more.
A wiki really would be better to document it all as I go. But I understand the permanence and scarcity of a physical book is worth the attempt. Apparently, you think so too.
If you do see some kind of trivia along these lines, don’t hesitate to save it and pass it along. The internet’s memory is not as great as we’d like to think.
Thanks for reading! — CJ