"The hood ornament is for telling you where you're going. The rear-view mirror is for showing you how good you look while you're getting there."
- David Lee Roth
In these times of spiritual dissolution, we must turn to the barker, the clown, the comedian and the rogue for guidance. Dressed in a glittering spandex jumpsuit and flaunting a bramble of perpetual chest hair, the person known to many as David Lee Roth - or DLR or the Rothster or the Rothmeister - may hold the answer to those among us who are searching for a better life, and a more robust way to live it.
It was DLR who proclaimed, while swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels, that "whoever said money don't buy you pleasure didn't know where to go shopping." These words reflect the importance of moving forward as well as the self-confidence that comes with this initiative, and while disbelievers have been quick to discredit the singer - even going so far to suggest that he fills his tankard of whiskey with ice tea as a way of sustaining his braggadocio, Lee Roth - or Diamond Dave - has answered his accusers by suggesting that, "if you hate me, then you hate your most favourite parts about yourself. Remember: Life is just a game and no one gets out alive."
It was at the US Festival in California where the Davester first burst on to the scene as one of North America's foremost philosopher kings. Responding to taunts from rival headliner Joe Strummer of The Clash, DLR stretched out across the interview table at which he was seated and said, "Man, changing the world is pretty tough when you're trying to break in a new drummer." In a New York Times editorial the next day, the "new drummer" image was interpreted as representing faith and loyalty, while later that evening, Billy Graham broadcast his famous "Changing Worlds/Steady Drummer" sermon. The next day, DLR, drawing long and deep from his bottle of JD, added: "When you're on the road for nine months a year and you always have these little chiquitas running around in their halter tops, it's kind of hard to worry about nuclear proliferation. Hey, you got a message, use Western Union." This was explained by liturgists as an attempt by Lee Roth to bridge the gap between Christian fatalists and their more forward-thinking cousins. "Less Book of Revelations, more Book of Love," was how Deepak Chopra put it. The world nodded in agreement.
Reflecting on the travails of life, Roth has said: "You know, the two most difficult things to deal with in life are failure and success." This simple, but clear, philosophical ribbon was thereafter heralded by rabbinical scholars, which led DLR to quip: "Not bad for the son of a Jewish doctor." It remains the world's bestselling truck-stop bumper sticker, and during the Running with the Devil tour, he continued this thread by telling the crowd at Cincinnati's Rose Field that "the trouble with dreams is that a lot of them come true. But by the time they do, you've turned into someone else." The crowd genuflected, and the band played on. Candles were lit and the symbolic burning of hemp and hemp oil began.
Roth has said: "I'm not a spectator on this Earth. I want to be in control, I want to know everything." This quest for knowledge has been the focus of many contemporary studies that examine modern man's eschewal of self-destiny, leaving technology to point us into the future. But Double D remains steadfast in his commitment to the power of self, as well as its limitations. He once told MTV's Classic Singers of the '80s series, "I think that all the great adventures can be written on the back of a beer-soaked napkin," both lampooning his obvious power while understanding that man is only as great as his first journey into self-realization. Further reading of this interview transcript reveals other examples of existential dogma: "these giant turbo-prop monster truck nards that smash Chevies and Buicks and are now rolling over [our] front gate ... [are they] crushing [our] designer sports car and the family pet as it squeals a short, brief, glorious warning? Or are these highly trained, super-mobile, small, but highly maneuverable Belgian assault nards ... about to sail into the nerve centre of the gangland stronghold? The mind fairly reels, sire." Roth later added, "give me a gal with a sense of humour, acidic wit and body like a Swedish speed skater and I'm quite content," expressing a rare moment of humour and triggering many a study-hall guffaw.
Recently, Lee Roth, in a rare public appearance, was called on to discuss man's search for contentment among the madness of our times. Taking the stage, he settled the expectant crowd before telling them: "I think people want balance more than ever. You know, plant an Ethiopian, feed the rain forest, save the ozone layer. You gotta have that! ‘Woe is me,' as a form of self-dramatization, is always fun. It shouldn't be replaced, but there should be a balance. Sooner or later, it's Miller time! Sooner or later, there [has to be] some hallelujah, watusi-tailgate, light-up-the-goddamn-sky-it's-finally-the-weekend [moment]. That doesn't mean simple belly laughs, and it doesn't mean high-brow." Having drawn in a collective breath of delight and wonder, the crowd dwelled on these words of enchantment before the sage added, sagely: "All it means is: Wanna go have a drink?"