Monday, January 12, 2015

Oh, those Eighties

A few weeks back I was up somewhere around 1 a.m., and flipped around channels in those wee hours. On VH1 Classic they had somewhat resurrected 120 Minutes—which is to say they programmed old alternative rock videos for two hours in the same midnight to 2 a.m. slot that was the spotlight for such videos back when it was an MTV show in its heyday.

As one who well over two decades ago used to videotape (yes, set the VCR) to watch that, I paused on the channel for a few minutes. Coming back from commercial the first one was the Psychedelic Furs' "Heaven." It was fascinating to be reminded of the production values that sometimes were applied back in the mid-80's, especially given the extremes to which the medium would eventually go.

The entire video is merely the singer, guitarist, and bass player in a dark space with water raining down on them. They ostensibly sing and play while getting drenched. (One presumes the drummer and his kit were washed away.)

As you can see above, that's the entire video. Just shots of the three of them in this "rain" (which occasionally is actually seen shooting out horizontally in the background). It's unclear what this setting has to do with the theme of the song, but it seems more likely that was merely what the label was willing to spring for: (presumably) a few hours on a sound stage with rented equipment for dousing the band from above.

Of course, given how music video has fallen from being a dominant pop culture medium (with no indication of it returning to prominence) I do not anticipate ever having to explain to my (now toddler) son that there was this early period when (especially for artists who were not big on the pop charts at the time) the labels didn't put much money into making videos. It's entirely likely by the time he's big enough to pay attention the only place where such things will be shown are on YouTube, and many of what are at the present (2015) ones may be no more elaborate than this dated example, so it won't seem unbelievable to him; all will be merely "old music" seen on the computer.

Perhaps avoiding this sort of nostalgia will be better for him. Rather than the whole of the heart it is the hole in our heart.

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