Music Video of the Day: Got My Mind Set On You by George Harrison (1987, directed by Gary Weis)

There were actually two videos released for George Harrison’s cover of Got My Mind Set On You.  I shared the better-known version yesterday.  

The other version features Alexis Denisof, trying to win the heart of a young woman at an arcade by winning her a toy ballerina.  George and the band appear in a hand-cranked movie viewer.

Like the other version, this video was directed by filmmaker Gary Weis.  Along with the videos for Got My Mind Set On You and several short films for Saturday Night Live, Gary Weis also directed the videos of Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al and Walk Like An Egyptian by the Bangles.

Music Video Of The Day: Got My Mind Set On You by George Harrison (1987, directed by Gary Weis)

Got My Mind Set On You was the first single to be released off of George Harrison’s 1987 solo album, Cloud Nine.  It went on to become the last of George Harrison’s three number one singles in the United States and the last number one single (to date) to be released by a former Beatle.  By a nice twist of fate, it was number one the week that the Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Got My Mind Set On You was actually a cover of I’ve Got My Mind Set On You, which was recorded in 1962 by James Ray.  “Weird Al” Yankovic later parodied this song as (This Song’s) Just Six Words Long.

The video above features George Harrison’s performing the song in a study while the furniture dances along to the music.  Just as that’s not actually George doing a backflip, the video wasn’t shot in George Harrison’s actual study.  Admit it, though.  If you ever heard someone say, “George Harrison was in his study,” you’d imagine the room looking just like the one in this video.

This video was directed by Gary Weis, who is probably best known for the short films that he directed for the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live, including the famous short where an elderly John Belushi visits the graves of all the other Not Ready For Prime Time Players and marvels at the fact that he outlived them all.

Music Video of the Day: You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon (1986, directed by Gary Weis)

How did Chevy Chase come to star in a music video?

It all started with a case of mistaken identity.  Paul Simon and his then-wife were at a party where they met French composer, Pierre Boulez.  Boulez was not sure who Simon was and repeatedly called him “Al.”  At the same time, Simon was suffering from a mid-life crisis that would not be resolved until Simon visited South Africa.   Simon brought the two incident together when he wrote You Can Call Me Al, the lead single off of his 1986 album, Graceland.

As for the video, it was the brainchild of Lorne Michaels.  Michaels, of course, is best known for producing Saturday Night Live and it was his idea to combine the tall and extroverted Chevy Chase with Paul Simon, who was neither of those things.

Lorne Michaels and Chevy Chase have had a long history together.  Michaels originally hired Chase for SNL and was instrumental in Chase’s early success.  Chase reacted to his sudden success by leaving SNL after its first season and subsequently trashing the show in interviews.  When Chase first returned to host SNL, he got into a fist fight with his successor, Bill Murray.  Chase’s subsequent appearances on the show have become legendary for Chase’s obnoxious and absuive behind-the-scenes behavior.  (In 1986, for example, Chase suggested a sketch in which openly gay cast member Terry Sweeney would announce that he had AIDS and then be regularly weighed throughout episode.)  Eventually, Chase managed to become the first former cast member to be banned from appearing on the show.

Paul Simon, though, is still welcome anywhere he goes.


Music Video of the Day: Walk Like An Egyptian by The Bangles (1986, dir. Gary Weis)

I have no idea what to say about this music video for what is one of the best known songs of the 1980s. Lucky for me, Vicki Peterson shares a little behind-the-scenes bit about her part in the video, and Hoffs shares pretty much everything else in the book I Want My MTV. I’ll let them speak for themselves:

Vicki Peterson:

“It wasn’t just the hair that was big in the ’80s. It was the shoulder pads, parachute pants, everything. For ‘Walk Like an Egyptian,’ I wore four pairs of false eyelashes.”

Susanna Hoffs:

“We used Gary Weis because we’d been huge fans of the Rutles movie he codirected. It was a two-day shoot in New York. You really felt like you had arrived when you had a two-day shoot. Part one was a live performance in some warehouse filled with contest winners from a radio station. The DP was using a long lens way back in the crowd. There was a close-up on me toward the end of the video, when I sing my section, but because the camera was so far away from me, I had no idea how close up it really was. Back then, when we performed live, I’d pick a friendly face in the middle of the crowd and then someone to my left and someone to my right, and I would sing to them, using them as focal points. That’s what I was doing in that part of the video. I wasn’t aware it was such a tight shot. People always ask me, ‘Were you trying to do something with your eyes there? Was that a thing?'”

This is another one of those that made the Clear Channel list of songs not to play in the days following 9/11. That’s sad seeing as I hear this and think it is a song about acceptance of different cultures by having a swath of different kinds of people share in something comical.

I want to remind people again that while a whole bunch of AC/DC songs were also on that list, Thunderstruck was not one of them, and there are numerous military montages set to it on YouTube. There are many examples of songs about peace and acceptance on that list while one that is arguably promoting revenge was just fine. That list never ceases to amaze me.

Robert Glassenberg produced the music video. He seems to have worked on one other music video for the group Fishbone.