at the end of the drive, the lawmen arrive


Oh man, this is so much more fun than politics. I’m going to expand our buddy Schultz’s question about music videos, and ask the rest of you to do the same. From each category, name your favorite video, and it can be as obscure, as recent, or as obvious as you’d like.

A) Video showing a band performing the song? (i.e. The Who “You Better You Bet”)

In the very early days of MTV, there were very few videos to show all 24 hours, so they tended to repeat a lucky hundred or so. One set of videos is taken from a small Pat Benatar concert where she does “Fire and Ice” and a few others. The one I thought FRICKIN’ ROCKED was “Promises in the Dark”, which has the ass-kickingest guitar part by Neil Geraldo possible.

Though obviously overplayed, Van Halen’s Jump has to make the list, as well as Springsteen’s subtle yet wonderful I’m On Fire. Put XTC’s “Senses Working Overtime” in there too.

B. Video showing a story? (i.e. “Safety Dance”)

Perhaps the seduction of Adam Ant in “Goody Two Shoes” would do nicely here, but to me, the greatest, most heartbreakingly beautiful video of all time is Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer. At the end of the wild ride, when he lets go of basic song structure and has that amazing minor-key riff (“I kicked the habit, shed my skin”), Gabriel himself turns into the stars and melds into the background… I dunno, somehow it always gets me.

C. A mix of the two? (Cars- “You Might Think”)

I’ll go with Is There Something I Should Know? by Duran Duran – I know the purists will demand Hungry Like the Wolf with its Indiana Jones plotline and Sri Lanka shoots, but give me bizarre post-apocalysm with epaulets and parachute pants any day of the week.


And you?


22 thoughts on “at the end of the drive, the lawmen arrive

  1. Neva

    Thanks Ian for this lovely diversion at a time when we really need one!
    Oh, the memories!!
    I have a VHS compilation of Duran Duran videos from the mid 1980s. It was a Christmas gift in 1984 I think. I begged for it. Since there were topless women in the Girls on Film video I felt I had pulled one over on my “you can’t go to R rated movies” parents.
    Loved Duran Duran and every single one of their videos. The first group I ever saw live. I still wear the concert t shirt to bed sometimes.
    I would nominate The Clash’s Rock the Casbah as best combo of story/band. Watch it again. The oil rigs, Arabs and armadillos seem ironically current.
    For best band video – Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2. Bono in Ireland on stage (I think it’s Ireland?). I hope to see that person before I die.
    Best story video – How about the Pretenders Brass in Pocket. Never really liked the song but the video was captivating somehow.
    SLS – thanks for the background on De La Soul. I think I was there although at that point I was feeling too old to be there and probably didn’t stay very long as I might have in previous days. Love the thought of the open minded Chi O sisters!

  2. Neva

    Okay, I have to do real work but I had to add on to the U2 theme another great band/story combo video – New Year’s Day – with the band in the snow and the horses and the young, young Bono.

  3. Neva

    Okay, I did some research the Sunday Bloody Sunday video was at Red Rocks in Denver,Colorado in 1983. I guess it was Ireland in my 14 year old dreams.
    Now I really have to get some real work done!

  4. scruggs

    A) Video showing a band performing the song?
    Sunday Bloody Sunday actually came right to mind as well! Neva beat me to it.
    B. Video showing a story?
    Shadows of the Night, Pat Benetar
    C. A mix of the two?
    Karma Chameleon, Culture Club
    Emma, saw your comment yesterday. Phillips Hall…yep, that was home for years. That, and Bub’s.

  5. Anon

    Along with Chi O, my fraternity (Sigma Nu) organized that De La Soul concert. It was a benefit for Habitat for Humanity, and the stage was in our front yard at the bottome of big fraternity court. There were several good bands lined up, actually. Greg H?
    And yes, the request list was absolutely dumb, especially since it was a benefit concert. I have a memory that they wanted a bowl of m&m’s, but only the green and yellow ones. I could be making that up though. I absolutely remember they wanted a limo on standby, to drive them from Carolina Inn to the Sigma Nu house (about 200 yards away).
    Back to the topic — it wasn’t a video per se, but the footage of U2 at LiveAid in 1985 playing “Bad” is, and will always be, “MTV” for me.

  6. Cris

    For video of band performance, I’ll vote for Eurythmics’ “Would I Lie To You?” Prior to that video, we had mainly seen Annie Lennox singing euro-pop in her various androgynous get-ups (which was great). But here she belted out something closer to a classic rock song, working the stage while Dave Stewart did his magic on guitar. I thought it was fantastic.
    For “story” video I have to go with Janet Jackson’s “Alright.” When the album, “Rhythm Nation” was released, my friends and I were all newly out, making the weekly rounds between Chapel Hill’s Club Zen (Thursdays), Durham’s Power Company (Fridays) and Raleigh’s Legends (Saturdays). Maybe some of you remember those spots. At the time, Janet’s brand of virtuoso choreography displayed in those videos seemed really novel and inspiring to the crowds on the dance floor. Of course, as the 90s wore on and all her videos started to look similar, it became less interesting. In any case, of that first batch of dance videos, I absolutely love “Alright.” It tells a story modeled after Gene Kelly’s famous Broadway Melody scene in “Singin’ in the Rain” with cameos from Cyd Charisse, the Nicholas Brothers, and Cab Calloway. Ok, forgive me for sounding like the 40-year old, showtune-loving gay stereotype that I am, but I think Cyd Charisse was the greatest female dancer ever to grace the big screen. So I loved Janet’s homage to her in this video. Cyd came on screen in an iconic red dress reminiscent of her most famous dance sequence with Fred Astaire in Vincent Minelli’s “The Band Wagon” and showed that, even at the age of 70 (!) she could still dance. I thought it was brilliantly classy.
    Not thinking of any mixed videos that really inspire me at the moment, so I’ll leave it at that.

  7. Ehren

    A) Los Campesinos! – “Death to Los Campesinos!”
    It’s recent, but it is both adorable and self-mocking. I loooooove it.
    B) I could think long and hard about this, but I immediately thought of the extended version of “Thriller”, both of which blew me away as a young’n.
    C) I’m going to say “Take on Me” by Ah-Ha, for similarly nostalgic reasons.

  8. Ehren

    Ohh! I forgot Pat Benetar’s “Shadows of the Night” about her daring raid into a nazi castle! Where a very young Bill Paxton plays a nazi radio operator!

  9. kent

    Since xtcian don’t ‘low embedding in comments — my posts yesterday were completely garbled, I’ll try again, in this new context:
    A) Bob Marley “Redemption Song”
    B) Bjork “All Is Full Of Love”
    C) New Order “True Faith”
    What about the non-linear visuals to music video i.e. Aphex Twin “On”?
    What about pure crazy shit like Bjork’s “Pagan Poetry?” The version on is censored with big black boxes — strangely, not just the nudity — the piercing of skin seems to freak them the hell out.

  10. jersey

    “Glory Days” by The Boss, “Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen and “Freedom” by George Michael. My three favorites.

  11. Schultz

    I second the Neil Geraldo solo on Promises in the Dark. Fantastic
    Worst Band Video Ever- Asia “Heat of the Moment”
    Best Story (90’s) Jane’s Addiction- “Been Caught Stealing”

  12. wyatt

    performing (live): Van Halen “So This Is Love”. Reminds me of their show at the Charlotte Coliseum on the “Diver Down” tour, where began my lifelong relationship with tinnitis and public vomiting. (Though the vomiting is in remission.)
    performing (sort of): Stevie Ray Vaughan “Couldn’t Stand the Weather”. SRV in Speedo goggles, damn!
    story: Tom Petty “Don’t Come Around Here No More”. I appreciate this song a lot more now than I did then.
    best video I can’t find anywhere: Joe Jackson “Mad At You”

  13. Caroline

    I consider Hungry like the Wolf a B not a C.
    I think I am being too literal about the delineations…
    A) The Reflex/Duran Duran.
    B) These are my favorite category: Hungry Like the Wolf/Duran Duran. Sigh, the boys were SO CUTE in those days. Honorable mention: The Flame/Arcadia.
    C) Learning to Fly/Foo Fighters, Material Girl/Madonna.
    Ian, MANY thanks for this post. I’m pretty much not going to work for the rest of the day.

  14. Zel M.

    Great topic!
    A) I will stick with my entry from yesterday, “Eminence Front” by The Who. Yes, I’m sentimental because it’s the first video I ever saw on MTV, but it’s fun to watch the guys arrive and get to the microphones just as the first lyrics begin.
    B) If you are between the ages of 30-45 and you say anything other than “Thriller” here, you are being dishonest or you didn’t have cable TV. People stopped what they were doing to watch the premiere of this video and it set the standard for all that followed.
    C) I am kind of partial to “Easy Lover” by Phil Collins and Phillip Bailey. The “making a video about making a video” theme was funny, but not as funny as the scene where they’re choosing outfits and Phil Collins comes out with the gold shiny Earth Wind and Fire disco costume.

  15. Bud

    A) Bruuuuuuce. I’ll take pretty much any song, but I’ll single out “Dancing in the Dark” because it’s my wife’s favorite.
    B) Sorry Zel, I have to go with Aha’s “Take on Me”. “Thriller” was great, sure enough, but after about a month of heavy rotation, it no longer thrilled me.
    C) Weezer’s “Hash Pipe”. Did geekier guys ever rock harder?

  16. Mallory

    1. Flock of Seagulls – I Ran
    2. A-Ha – Take On Me
    3. Kajagoogoo – To Shy
    Do I get extra points since all three bands are 80s only bands (and let’s face it, one hit wonders)?

  17. julie

    I’m going to agree with Zel on B.) Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” We didn’t have cable at that time (lived too far out in the boonies) but the whole family happened to be at Circuit City when it debuted. The whole store, including loaders and cashiers came to the TV section to watch, gawk, and stare. The video scared my sister to death and she was shrieking/crying by the end of it. One of those “I’ll always remember where I was” memories.
    For A.) I will go with INXS” “Need You Tonight/Mediate” but I also really like Bandaid’s “Don’t They Know It’s Christmas?”
    For C.) I liked the imagery in Depeche Mode’s “People Are People.”

  18. GFWD

    Zel M. nailed it on the head. Thriller is number one and everyone else is playing for second place when it comes to a STORY video.
    1. Therefore, my second place video is akin to Zel’s mention of EASY LOVER. It’s the Steve Perry video for “Oh Sherrie” featuring his real girlfriend. The video is a making of video set in Elizabethan times until Steve breaks out into song. Classic.
    2. Hoobastank’s THE REASON is an AWESOME recent video with a great story. The band fakes an elaborate car accident as a smokescreen for a theft. Great.
    1. I don’t know why I love the beginning of ONCE IN A LIFETIME by Talking Heads, but I stop and watch whenever I see the keyboardist toggling that opening sound, looking over to David Byrne for the cue to start the drums. Same as it ever was.
    2. Another odd one that I always stop to watch is the Simple Minds video to ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID. It’s simple video showing the same band member over and over again in a line, but I love it.
    3. RELAX by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. At one point, he points the microphone toward the crowd and you actually hear their collective voices singing.
    Though it’s not technically a “story”, I love the video for TRUE FAITH by New Order. Those weird characters trading slaps and bouncing is matched only by GRACE JONES’ and her song “Slave to the Rhythm”

  19. emma

    I haven’t watched MTV in years, so I can’t explain why two of my choices are songs from the last couple of years, but my all-time favorite band performing video is Dani California by RHCP. To see Flea dressed like the Beatles and Nirvana and hair bands is classic.
    This next one, you can’t call a story and it is not a “band” performance, but I love OK Go’s Here is goes again. What they do on those treadmills just makes me grin every time I watch it.
    As to the classic videos, A-Ha’s Take on Me is my favorite story video. Also like Thomas Dolby’s She Blinded Me with Science.
    Y’all mentioned Jump, which I liked, but Hot for Teacher is a pretty fun story video, along with Swisted Tister, I mean Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Going to Take it.
    My husband chimed in and said he loved J. Geil’s Centerfold video during those classic MTV days.

  20. Big Scott

    It’s hard for me to separate a video from the song, but there are a few that are worth mentioning:
    1) Bob Marley – One Love. One of my five favorite songs of all time. This song is played so often in my house it was the first song my daughter ever asked a DJ to play — she was 3 and a half at the time and asked for it by artist and title. That’s my girl!
    2) LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out. If this comes on the volume automatically goes to 11. The video compliments the lyrics and sentiment perfectly.
    3) I don’t know if it counts as a video or not, but I saw it on MTV. Watching Freddy Mercury totally own 100,000 people during Live Aid in 1985 is one of the enduring musical moments that I remember from my teenage years. Best rock front man ever.
    4) Ratt – Round and Round. Milton Berle in a video for a wannabe hair band that features a lisping front man. Pure comedy genius. Plus in Iredell County in the late ’80s you at least had to tip your cap in the direction of pop metal or they would have run you out of town.


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