So today I learned that a year after being posted on YouTube (but now available through music industry site Vevo), the video clip for Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” has tallied over 10,000,000 views. That’s no small feat, considering that the red-hot show Glee has received more than 11,000,000 views of their cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” over that same period of time.
I’ve got to confess that this version of “Here I Go Again” pisses me off. I loved the original from 1982’s superlative Saints & Sinners album, but when Whitesnake made the (in)famous 1987 album, they stripped it of its bluesy vibe and gave it a pop sheen to appeal to women. And men salivated over Tawny Kitaen gyrating on top of two Jaguars in the video. Whatever. Ironically, on that same 1987 release, the British group turned the bluesy ballad “Crying In The Rain” from the earlier album into a heavier, more aggressive track, losing the nuances that made it great. While I loved vintage ‘Snake, once the 1987 album dropped I lost my interest in the group, although I have appreciated music they have made in recent years.
I do understand why David Coverdale chose to go this route. He had spent a decade since his short time in Deep Purple carving out a niche with Whitesnake but never quite cracking the American mainstream. After Slide It In came out in 1984, the group started to gain some MTV airplay, but it was obvious that the old guard of UK rock bands like Uriah Heep, UFO and Nazareth were not able to compete in America with young, female-friendly hair bands like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi. And since his style of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll could be tinkered with to compete in that marketplace, Coverdale went for it. At least his multi-platinum success with the new line-up and sound brought attention to the band’s older tunes. Deluxe editions of both the 1987 album and Slide It In (which itself had two versions, but that’s a tale for another time) came out in 2007 and 2009, respectively.
When I interviewed Coverdale two years ago for Goldmine, their new album Good To Be Bad had just come out and was a nice return to their classic form, and it allegedly sold 50,000 copies here in the States. On a larger scale, Whitesnake have had a successful revival in Europe in recent years and headlined major festivals, and they have intermittently played the U.S. I did ask the iconic singer what he thought of the fairweather fans — i.e. those that made the band stars but had not stuck with them through thick and thin. “I welcome whoever,” Coverdale countered. “Fuck, who am I to turn around and say these are fair weather friends or not? The circumstance is they feathered my nest to the point where I’m still living extraordinarily well. It was an extraordinary experience for me. I’m not interested in doing tours of fucking blues clubs in Bavaria. When I leave my very nice home in Lake Tahoe, I want to be in a very nice hotel room. I don’t need that shit to get the blues. I get the blues from emotions.”
And I often get the blues when my favorite bands commercialize, but hey, that’s life. I still love a lot of Whitesnake’s music, and Coverdale was a fantastic interview. To his credit, he has lamented the ridiculous excess (and hairspray) that dominated the late Eighties and lead to that era’s demise. So here is the 10,000,000 million-viewed clip “Here I Go Again”. And below it, the real version. I already know which is better, but you can make your own assessment.