I Want My MTV
oFirst, I audio’d this, which made it sometimes confusing. Being an oral history, which is to say, “block of pertinent quote” led into by attribution, all read here by and in the same voice, I kept having to tap back twenty seconds, to hear again WHO I was listening to. Maybe ten hours in, though, I got into the lope of it, and all was great. Also, audio’ing it was by far the quickest way to get this into my head. And I verymuch wanted it all, faster and faster.
So much cool stuff here. The stories behind so many of the videos. The craziness of the VMAs. Sebastian Bach still being my hero. Madonna owning the whole and complete world. Prince ordering everyone around with whispers. Ann and Nancy Wilson still being so, so cool. David Fincher starting out on MTV. The story of that Billy Squier video—that being a video I’d never heard of. The MTV offices and hallways and dinners and off-site parties. The egos. Axl being so, so, so late ALL THE TIME.
Some vital-cool stuff.
Also, it sent me online, searching for a playlist of every video in here. A playlist that doesn’t exist, I don’t think. I took a couple hours deep one night and made my own, but then I ended up splitting it between hair metal and “etc” (this is the split with everything I ever do, pretty much, and, these are both works in someday-progress—suggestions, please), which I think isn’t the early MTV spirit, which was all about seeing Gloria Estefan back to back with Motley Crue. But, a few years ago my dad gave me some DVDs he’d had transferred from some old VHS tapes he still had around, which each had six hours of old, prime MTV. Now? I’ve just got to find those DVDs, which I never got around to watching . . . edit! Just found them!
Too, those first few years of MTV, reading about them here was like discovering a strange new world. I never had MTV, except for a few months living in this one rent-house down in Wimberley, Texas, in eighth grade. So: 1986, I think it must have been. By which time I think MTV was, to a lot of people, not really MTV anymore. But, for a few months, I’d watch that countdown after school every day. It was magic. This was another world. I wanted to go there, be that.
And, I’m kind of lying, here, but I can’t tell exactly where. To explain: I have a memory from third-grade, when I moved to Greenwood, Texas. I’m standing in front of the Baptist church talking to my cousin Darla, and she’s asking me if I like Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face.” And somehow I know this music video. No remote clue how, though. I told Darla that I liked the song, but I thought it was creepy, the way his eyes stayed in place in that . . . I didn’t say “music video,” I’m pretty sure. But I don’t know what else I might have said. Neither do I have any idea where I might have seen that. I’d guess at a friend’s house, maybe? I mean, on one of the three channels we got, there was some kind of music video show on Friday nights—Friday Night Videos, I think?—but I associate that more with late elementary, if not seventh grade.
MTV was deep in the culture by my third grade. Probably I couldn’t have avoided music videos. Too, I think by that time, the only two movies I’d seen were Raiders of the Lost Ark and Flashdance, if that helps contextualize me any. I had a lot of Star Wars action figures, but I only knew Star Wars from the JCPenney’s catalogue, which I pored over every single day. (also? I may be lying again. I think I saw Raiders in fourth grade, actually, in Odessa).
I’m talking music videos, though.
The ones that I’ll never forget—like most people my age, I suspect—are Crue’s “Home Sweet Home,” Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and, when it came along, Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” I spent well more than two years modeling everything I wore after “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”
Also, you can completely skip the chapter on The Real World. Or, I did, and I still feel like I got the whole book. I remember reading Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and completely catching on his compulsion to be on that show. I wasn’t sure if he was the alien, or if I was. I’m still not sure which of us is the alien, really. Don’t think I even knew the show was going on until . . . man, the late nineties, anyway. I mean, I didn’t have cable for my MA work (94 – 96), but I think I did in Florida, for my PhD. But I was mostly watching Pop-Up Video and VH-1 by then. I guess because MTV wasn’t doing music anymore, I don’t know.
But: this book did leave me feeling all nostalgic for something that’ll never happen again. Or, for a time when music videos were cool, I guess. So I went searching, hoping. Here’s the two I like most from recent-ish stuff. The first is by a band I don’t know, but should, it sounds like; I really dig the . . . I don’t know: the anger of it all, here:
This second’s from a survivor from the eighties, whom I’ll never stop listening to—such a cool concept for a video. If YouTube is running all these videos off VHS, then the tape for this one’s going to snap pretty soon, from me watching it over and over:
So much I don’t know. Exciting. That means there’s so much left to learn.