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"But you don't hire Picasso and then tell him how to paint."
October 27, 2011 12:06 AM   Subscribe

When we did "Beat It," Michael came in the van with us to scout locations. I remember saying, "I'm hungry, let's stop for a pizza." Michael said, "Oh good, I've never had a pizza." This is a 25-year-old man who'd never had pizza. Now he wasn't accessible like that. He was a superstar, but then he became a deity.
I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution is a hugely readable and fun new oral history of the first decade of MTV. Veteran music writers Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum interviewed many of the era's major players, putting a microscope on the biggest, weirdest, and most memorable videos of the time, and [Pitchfork is] thrilled to present the following excerpt.
posted by obscurator (28 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is fun.

MICK KLEBER, record executive: David Mallet is one of the top video-makers of all time. He directed Heart's "What About Love?," which was a huge video with a lot of killer imagery-- big explosions, cauldrons pouring molten steel into molds while Nancy Wilson played a guitar solo.

I'd also point out that I've shot at El Matador multiple times and I wouldn't call it the "most inaccessible beach" anywhere. You just park in the lot and walk down the trail.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:30 AM on October 27, 2011


Cocaine is a helluva drug.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:43 AM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Indeed, and it's use by musicians predates MTV by about 60 years!

"I love my whisky and I love my gin
but the way I love my coke is a doggone sin"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:59 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cocaine use, that it... forgot to quote Space Kitty's comment. Please ignore grocer's apostrophe, as well. Thank you.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:01 AM on October 27, 2011


Well, obviously powdered stimulants are the only reason for someone to be awake at this hour (CST). Although in MY day, we stayed up late because good stuff was happening on MTV in the wee hours.
posted by obscurator at 1:17 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Michael! Wanna get pizza and a video?"
"Can we get Aladdin?"
"No, just pizza and a video."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:30 AM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is a 25-year-old man who'd never had pizza. Now he wasn't accessible like that.

I really actually want that on a t-shirt.
posted by mannequito at 1:46 AM on October 27, 2011


I just put that book on my wish list.
posted by maxwelton at 2:51 AM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


You just park in the lot and walk down the trail.

Now do it again with all the film equipment and crew and lighting and everything required to shoot a music video at night.
posted by hippybear at 4:29 AM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


The book also claims there is wide consensus about what is the worst video of all time. That seemed a bit preposterous to me. Surely that's subjective, right? Then I watched Rock Me Tonight.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 5:29 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Then I watched Rock Me Tonight.

I could have made it through the rest of my life just fine without remembering that video existed.
posted by marxchivist at 5:47 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is Rob Tannenbaum's link pointing to the correct place?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:59 AM on October 27, 2011


Here's Rob Tannenbaum singing lead for White Courtesy Phone.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:02 AM on October 27, 2011


Then I watched Rock Me Tonight.

Just gonna go ahead and believe that this is the most brilliant thing Bob Odenkirk has ever filmed
posted by Greg Nog at 6:30 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Bob, that bust of me does not look like me." "Bob, the bust does not look like me." Finally, Bob came over to me and said, "Lionel, she's blind."
posted by dirtdirt at 6:44 AM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm so getting this book - and as a one-time bass player:

STEWART COPELAND, The Police: I grew to understand that videos were mainly about getting our singer's face out there. Because it was so pretty. That's the way it goes. Drummers learn that lesson pretty early in life. Guitarists never quite learn that lesson. Drummers and bass players, we're over it.

So true.
posted by jalexei at 6:47 AM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


You know, Sting clearly has a massive ego, but he's really a pretty talented guy. Copeland probably has some legitimate beefs, but his Sting-obsession comes off as petty. Kind of like Tina Weymouth and David Byrne.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:57 AM on October 27, 2011


...but his Sting-obsession comes off as petty. Kind of like Tina Weymouth and David Byrne.

Totally agree - I think his point is true though, in a broader sense.
posted by jalexei at 6:59 AM on October 27, 2011


The book also claims there is wide consensus about what is the worst video of all time. That seemed a bit preposterous to me. Surely that's subjective, right? Then I watched Rock Me Tonight

Billy Squire was a serious guitar rocker before video killed the radio star. Then again... that wasn't the butchest of choices re: choreography & wardrobe, so maybe it wasn't ALL the medium's fault.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:26 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. I actually teach a class with Bob Giraldi, the guy who made the above quote about MJ. He's a very, very interesting guy, even apart from his history as a music video director.
posted by chasing at 8:02 AM on October 27, 2011


I want to re-forget that Billy Squire video.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:03 AM on October 27, 2011


Then I watched Rock Me Tonight.

Huh, that was a relatively inoffensive trifle. I probably would've gone for something like Queensr├┐che's Silent Lucidity, which I remember being both ponderously dull (here's another blurry half-lit band member looking glum!) and borderline inescapable for too damn long.
posted by psoas at 8:42 AM on October 27, 2011


I had heard about his book and poo poo'ed the idea but after reading this it looks like it will be fascinating. I had forgotten how ludicrous some of those videos are. That Heart video for "What about Love" is the best.
posted by zzazazz at 8:47 AM on October 27, 2011


Another reason I love Aimee Mann is this quote about "Voices Carry": "The video is about a girl who's trying to be heard and has to suppress her feelings because her boyfriend's an asshole."
posted by blucevalo at 9:28 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


As though the music video-nerd blog posted a couple of days ago wasn't enough... thanks for this!
posted by progosk at 10:13 AM on October 27, 2011


I had forgotten how ludicrous some of those videos are.

You should be watching some of the new episodes of Pop Up Video. It's like a form of time travel for me, only the kind where things from the present are suddenly showing up in the past. It reminds me of the many hours of odd joy I received during the years when I was using MTV as a visual radio station and it was playing Public Enemy next to Ratt next to Michael Jackson.

I DVRed the first 20 episodes and then extracted what were (to my taste) the best 3 hours of videos and put it on a DVD and took it to a party last weekend to run as eye candy in one of the rooms. For the first couple of hours people were kind of wary of it, but soon everyone was watching and commenting about the videos at various times during the night.

If there's any evidence that there needs to actually be a music video channel available again, it's present in this book and the new Pop Up Video episodes.

Either that, or someone needs to find a way to do a Pandora-type service which uses videos instead of just audio, and which includes in the DNA used to determine what gets played elements of the visuals instead of only the music. Because THAT WOULD BE FUCKING AWESOME.
posted by hippybear at 3:36 PM on October 27, 2011


This is fantastic, and I definitely want this book... but you know, reading this excerpt online, with links to some of the videos mentioned, makes this an even better experience. It gives me hope for what the ebook could and should become.
posted by John Smallberries at 4:23 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


marxchivist: "Then I watched Rock Me Tonight.

I could have made it through the rest of my life just fine without remembering that video existed.
"

Hey, I may be the only one, but I like Rock Me Tonight. The song, anyway. Sentimental value; I was dating my first girlfriend in like 7th grade when that was in rotation and we both had mixtapes with that song playing in our Walkmans. Ah, the 80s. Ah, youth.

Thanks for the link, I love all this behind-the-scenes stuff.
posted by zardoz at 4:46 PM on October 27, 2011


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