Today is the 50th anniversary of the first day of the famous (or infamous, depending on how you feel about hippies, nudity, mud, and Crosby Stills Nash) 1969 musical festival, Woodstock. Today’s music video of the day is taken from Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 documentary about that event.
Arlo Guthrie was the son of folk singer, Woody Guthrie. He’s best known for the Thanksgiving anthem, Alice’s Restaurant. I enjoy his performance here because Arlo is both playing up to the crowd while, at the same time, remaining rather detached from them as well. He understands the audience and allows them to think that he’s one of them while remaining a bit above it all. (And if you have any doubt, just look at him flying over Woodstock in a helicopter.) It’s the same feeling that one gets from watching Arlo in the film version of Alice’s Restaurant and it makes him a more intriguing figure than the artists who unambiguously embraced the counter culture.
Wadleigh, of course, uses Guthrie’s song as a way to acknowledge that, believe it or not, a lot of weed was smoked at Woodstock.
Finally, it’s a pretty good song. Rhyming “Los Angeles” with “a couple of keys” guarantees that.
So, is this video a celebration of hanging out with friends or is it the final vision of a dying person whose life is flashing before their eyes. I tend to assume it’s the latter but then again, you know that I always tend to lean towards the morbid when it comes to interpreting things.
Today is the 15th anniversary of the death of Rick James. Our music video of the day is for James’ biggest U.S. hit and his best-known song, Super Freak.
James shot this video during the early days of MTV, hoping that the network would put the video into its steady rotation and help the song become a hit. However, MTV rejected the video. In the early 80s, MTV was notorious for rejecting music videos from black artists. However, Carolyn Baker, who was then director of acquisitions for the network, later said that, “It wasn’t MTV that turned down ‘Super Freak.’ It was me. I tuned it down. You know why? Because there were half-naked women in it, and it was a piece of crap. As a black woman, I did not want that representing my people as the first black video on MTV.”
(The first black group to get a video on MTV would be Musical Youth with Pass the Dutchie in 1982. A year after that, Michael Jackson destroyed what was left of MTV’s color barrier with the success of his videos for Thriller.)
Even without the support of MTV, Super Freak went on to become Rick James’s biggest hit. The song’s distinctive bassline was later sampled by MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This. James had to sue to get credited for the sample. Rick James would later receive his only Grammy when U Can’t Touch This won for Best R&B Song in 1991.
This is a nicely atmospheric video. A woman discovers that her man is cheating and, when he returns home from a tryst, he finds a message waiting for him. The whole video covers an entire range of emotion, from the pain of betrayal to the empowerment that comes from refusing to just accept it.
“I am enough”
Hell yeah, Girl!
Unless, of course, you’ve been bad, in which case you should probably fear for your life.
This is a nicely evocative video, I think. Las Vegas is the quintessential American city, a celebration of commerce and hospitality that happens to be sitting out in the middle of an inhospitable desert. Vegas could only have been founded in America and it’s only in America that it could have thrived to become the iconic city that it is today.
Of course, I should also mention that, whenever I see any clips of the Las Vegas strip, I automatically think about the movie Casino and the Ace Rothstein Dancers. If I ever go to Vegas, I’m going to let Commissioner Pat Webb know that Sam “Ace” Rothstein has nothing to hide.