Van Halen’s ‘Tattoo’ Shouts Out to Unions
Van Halen has really got us going. The legendary rock band has reunited with original lead singer David Lee Roth and their first studio album in 14 years has shot to the top of the charts nearly as fast as Eddie Van Halen’s fingers fly up and down the fretboard. We’re jumping for the hit record’s first single, “Tattoo,” which features this great union shout out:
Uncle Danny had a coal tattoo,
he fought for the union, some of us still do.
On my shoulder is the number of the chapter he was in.
That number is forever like the struggle here to win.
In a video interview about the hit single’s lyrics, Roth says he relates to the pride that goes along with being in a union or fighting for one, “What’s more poignant than the union struggle today—you identify [with] that, you join a team, you join a group…when you get a tattoo.”
Roth says that while tattoos can be decorative or celebratory, they also can signify something serious and personal. He goes on to pay tribute to the daily wear and tear on working people by explaining the song’s reference to a “coal tattoo”—the permanent mark left on miners from years of black coal seeping into their pores.