By the time you read this, I will probably be having a tube put down my throat to measure pressure caused by my esophagus. I might also have another that I have to wear for 24 hours as I try to stress test my body’s acid reflux. This should be an interesting couple of days. I probably won’t get back to these posts for a little while. Since there are tubes involved, I might as well do another music video by The Tubes.
I already mentioned it back when I did She’s A Beauty, but The Tubes helped get MTV on their feet. This video was in heavy rotation on MTV. It wasn’t on the radio. Yet, they found out that in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they had a high concentration of cable subscribers, The Tubes were selling in record stores. This gave MTV evidence that their network could sell records.
Since last time I didn’t quote the section about this from the book, I Want My MTV, here it is:
Bob Pittman [one of the founders of MTV]: We needed to be very scientific about the impact MTV was having on the record industry. So I sent John Sykes and Tom Freston to Tulsa, Oklahoma. And one night, Sykes and Freston called me very excited. They’d been to a record store, and the store had suddenly sold out of the Tubes, and we were the only people playing the Tubes, so it had to be because of us. We had our first evidence that MTV was selling records.
Songfacts also tells this story:
This was the song that proved the power of MTV to sell records. The network launched on August 1, 1981, and “Talk To Ya Later” was in hot rotation. Very few radio stations played the song (or anything by The Tubes) in America, but a few months after MTV went on the air, Tubes records were selling out in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time, you couldn’t get MTV in New York or Los Angeles, but lots of people had cable in Tulsa and the cable system carried it. Local radio wasn’t playing The Tubes, so MTV was the only explanation for the sales surge. The network used this information to convince record companies that they had to make music videos (delivered to MTV free of charge, of course) to promote their artists, and many did.
When you go to listen to the video, then you’ll hear something weird. For some reason, the volume is low for awhile, and then goes up for no reason that I could figure out. I have no idea if that was intentional, or a mistake made when they put this video up.
I don’t want to talk about Russell Mulcahy for the umpteenth time. The song speaks for itself, and the video sets the story in a chaotic TMZ-like fashion. My favorite part of the video is the insertion of stills that are cut into the video–a moment that people will see, but without context.
Hopefully, this whole thing won’t be too hard, and I can get back to these posts sooner rather than later.