Them Yo-Yos


From The New York Times:

Like almost everyone who was a teenager in the early 1980s, when the Music Television network first went live on cable, I wanted my MTV.

I’d glue myself to the channel for hours, losing body mass, muscle control and self-esteem, the way my son gives himself over to video games today. MTV demanded that you linger in front of it for entire afternoons, because it tucked its few good videos amid so many horrible ones. You had to learn Zen couch potato patience.

Before MTV, scanning for new music on television was mostly a thankless task, even if you stayed up late, and stayed home, on weekends. There was “Saturday Night Live,” then as now hit or miss musically. There were the greasy, bell-bottomed bands on “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” many past their prime. MTV delivered not just new music, constantly on tap, but also a jumpy new visual aesthetic. Directors began editing footage the way Edward Scissorhands trimmed hedges.

It’s been said that the music you listen to when you first begin steaming up car windows is the music you want to hear for the rest of your life. This explains why I and so many people I know still cock our heads wistfully at songs by — and especially acoustic cover versions of songs by — iffy bands like Men at Work, Tears for Fears and Thompson Twins. It’s a generational cross we bear, and we’ve come to terms with it.

“When Video Killed Radio Stars”, Dwight Garner, The New York Times