Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quarterflash "Harden My Heart"

A seminal moments post . . .

Every trivia buff knows that “Video Kills The Radio Star” was the first video played on MTV.

But when MTV went on the air, only a few households in America had the channel. And even fewer were tuned in to MTV.

So the more interesting question is: What video was playing, the first time you watched MTV?

I can remember it, as clear as day. Two Newburyport Cable Company technicians were in our basement, hooking up a box.

I don’t know where my folks were, but I was supervising, to make sure they reconnected my Atari properly. And also, because I knew about MTV.

I’d heard about it anyway. Kids on the playground (which wasn’t really a playground so much as a parking lot) at The Immaculate Conception had been talking about the video of Olivia Newton John’s “Physical.”

I didn’t really get it. Was she on a stage, singing, like on Solid Gold? Why was that interesting?

So as soon as I got a quick tutorial on how to change channel with the box (yeah, we didn’t spring for the remote control, because, c’mon, you can’t walk over to the TV and change the channel!?!?) I flipped around to MTV.

And I was, not surprisingly, taken with what I saw.

Motorcycles! A Babe In Tight Pants! A Fog Machine! An Entire Set Built For The Express Purpose Of This Little Movie!

Sure, you can look at the production values of Quarterflash’s “Harden My Heart” today, and laugh. But in 1982, this was near the pinnacle of video artistry.

Over the next days and weeks, I’d sit in front of MTV for hours on end, with friends or without, and go into their weird worlds of music. Much of which (because it was imported from Europe) was completely unfamiliar to me.

My love of music videos would grow exponentially, then wax and wane in the decades that followed. And with their ubiquity, it’s hard to remember when they mattered.

But I’d argue that maybe they’re mattering again. Ok Go, and other viral successes, would support that theory.

Maybe some day down the line, I’ll be asking you, What was the first music video you saw on Youtube?

This post is one in a series of Seminal Moments---stories of songs that truly changed the course of my life. For more posts in this series, click on the Seminal Moments link under "Labels."

1 comment:

  1. The first video I can remember seeing was Michael Nesmith's rudimenatry, but groundbreaking Pop Clips, which aired in 6-hour chuunks as a test on the new Nikelodeon network. A year later, he sold the concept of MTV to Time-Warner, Also memorable, not long after that, Godley and Creem of 10cc fame did a really cool video involving morphing--way ahead of its time. I can't remember the song, but it was catchy and the visual was very cool.