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Interesting facts and trivia about Panama. By Songfacts®.

Panama is a country in Central America famous for its canal, but it has nothing to do with the song. The lyrics are about a stripper David Lee Roth met in Arizona. As he explained on The Howard Stern Show, the song came about after an interview Roth gave in the early '80s; the interviewer accused him of only writing lyrics about sex, drugs, and fast cars. Sometime either during or after the interview, Diamond Dave realized he'd never actually written a song about fast cars, so he started working on the lyrics to "Panama," which he later admitted in another interview that, as it turns out, he had been writing about a stripper he knew without realizing it. The finished lyrics were inspired by both the stripper and the car.

"Panama" was one of the last Van Halen songs recorded with David Lee Roth as lead singer before he left the band to go solo. With Roth at the helm, the group built a huge following with five albums released from 1978-1982. They took a little more time before issuing their sixth, 1984, early in 1984. With the synth-driven lead single, "Jump," they landed a #1 hit and crossed over to a much wider audience, but they didn't leave their core fans behind. The rocker "I'll Wait" was the next single, followed by "Panama," which left no doubt where the group's priorities lay (girls, guitars, cars). "Hot For Teacher" was the last single, keeping the group on the airwaves throughout 1984. With Roth gone, Van Halen entered a new era with lead singer Sammy Hagar. Their first album with him was 5150, released in 1986. Hagar's lyrics were more mature but still rocked. Hits from that album include "Dreams" and "Why Can't This Be Love?" Roth reunited with the band in 2007; they released their last album, A Different Kind of Truth, in 2012.

The car David Lee Roth drives in the video is from his own collection. It's a 1951 Mercury convertible (with four doors) christened the "California Girl." It later appeared in his video for "California Girls."

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Song Analysis

Key, BPM (tempo) and time signature of Panama.
4/4Time Signature


The album Panama is released on.

Released By

The record label that has released Panama.
Warner Records
© 1996 Warner Records Inc.
℗ 1996 Warner Records Inc.

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