Music Video of the Day: All I Want Is Everything by Def Leppard (1996, directed by Matt Mahurin)

This is actually one of Def Leppard’s better songs but it had the misfortune to be released in 1996, at a time when many formerly huge 80s bands were being overshadowed by the new bands of the 90s. Visually, the music video has more in common with the melancholy video style of 90s grunge than with the energetic and upbeat videos that we typically associate with Def Leppard.

This video was directed by photographer Matt Mahurin. Mahurin started directing videos in 1986 and has worked with everyone from U2, Queensrÿche, Metallica, and Dreams So Real to Tracy Chapman, Tom Waits, R.E.M., and Alice In Chains.


Music Video of the Day: With or Without You by U2 (1987, directed by Meiert Avis and Matt Mahurin)

Today, it’s easy to make fun of the world’s most self-important band, U2.  It’s not that their music has really gotten bad or that Bono doesn’t do commendable work when he’s not touring.  It’s just that most people still associate them primarily with the debacle surrounding the release of Songs of Innocence.  Forcing a lukewarm album on people who may not even be fans of the band is never a good look.

But, in the band’s early days and before they got so openly pretentious, U2 was one of the top groups around.  The Joshua Tree still stands as one of the best musical accomplishments of the previous century and With Or Without You is one of the signature songs from that album.

As is always the case with U2, it helps if you don’t know what the song was actually about.  I’ve always assumed that this was meant to be a sad love song but then I did some research and I discovered that it was just Bono singing about his conflict about whether he wanted to be a touring musician or a family man.  Bono can’t live without or without … himself.

It’s better not to think about that and to just bring your own interpretation to the lyrics and the song.  The video is simple but it captures the feel of the song.


Music Video of the Day: Orange Crush by R.E.M. (1988, directed by Matt Mahurin)

“The song is a composite and fictional narrative in the first person, drawn from different stories I heard growing up around Army bases. This song is about the Vietnam War and the impact on soldiers returning to a country that wrongly blamed them for the war.”

— Michael Stipe, on the meaning of Orange Crush

“I must have played this song onstage over three hundred times, and I still don’t know what the fuck it’s about. The funny thing is, every time I play it, it means something different to me, and I find myself moved emotionally.  Noel Coward made some remark about the potency of cheap music, and while I wouldn’t describe the song as cheap in any way, sometimes great songwriting isn’t the point. A couple of chords, a good melody and some words can mean more than a seven-hundred-page novel, mind you. Not a good seven-hundred-page novel mind you, but more say, a long Jacqueline Susann novel. Well alright, I really liked Valley of the Dolls.”

— Peter Buck, on the meaning of Orange Crush

“Mmm, great on a summer’s day. That’s Orange Crush.”

— Simon Parkin, after R.E.M. performed Orange Crush on Top of the Pops

Despite (or perhaps because of) all of the differing opinions as to what the song is actually about, Orange Crush is one of R.E.M.’s signature songs.  It was not only a hit in the U.S. but it was also their highest charting single in the UK.  It was the popularity of this song that led to R.E.M. being invited to make their first appearance on Top of the Pops, where host Simon Parkin assumed that the song was about the soft drink instead of the cancer-causing defoliant used in Vietnam.

This video, which won the inaugural Best Post-Modern Video award at the VMAs, was directed by photographer Matt Mahurin.  Mahurin has directed several music videos, including the video for Metallica’s Enter Sandman.  His most notorious work, though, might be a 1994 Time Magazine cover that featured a heavily darkened version of O.J. Simpson’s mugshot.


Music Video of the Day: Everything Zen by Bush (1994, directed by Matt Mahurin)

Is Everything Zen by Bush the worst music video of all time?  Let’s break it down:

0:06 — For some reason, this shot of the birds taking off from the rooftop was one of the most overused shots of the 90s.  It means nothing.  Birds perch on building and then they fly away.  That’s what they do.  In this case, I think the birds are saying, “Let’s get out of here before Gavin starts singing.”

0:20 — The only shot that was a bigger cliché than birds flying off a rooftop?  The one of the woman standing at the end of a tunnel.

0:27 — Bush makes their first appearance and already they’re trying too hard.  Bush was not the first band to rip off Nirvana and Pearl Jam, they were just the most obvious.

0:31 — Gavin Rossdale sang something about getting something to eat so here’s someone in a pig mask, holding a fork.  Literal representations of Bush’s lyrics only serve to remind us of how stupid they are.

0:40 — In the video, Gavin sings “psycho brother.”  In the actual song, he says “asshole brother.”  I guess his asshole brother lives in Los Angeles and wears a pig snout.  In real life, Gavin Rossdale doesn’t have a brother so already he’s lying to us.

0:46 — This is where I really get pissed off.  There’s only one good lyric in this damn song and they stole it from David Bowie.  And no, saying “Dave’s on sale again,” doesn’t make it okay.

0:53 — The woman’s being carried away by someone.  We’re getting edgy now, folks.

1:00 — I can’t understand a word that Gavin’s singing and while I could look up the lyrics, I won’t.  Compare this part of the song to literally any Nirvana song.  Kurt Cobain’s lyrics were cryptic but still meant something.  Bush’s lyrics sound like they were cribbed from a 9th grader’s notebook.

1:11 — One of Bush’s trademarks was that, whenever they couldn’t come up with any new lyrics, they would just repeat the song’s title.  What does “Everything zen” even mean?

1:25 — Along with birds flying off of roofs and women standing at the end of tunnels, intense backlighting was another 90s music video cliché.  This video makes sure to touch all the bases.

1:31 — A mask and an exposed rib cage?  Is that zen?

1:35 — Gavin sings “demigod” as if he got the lyrics a half hour before recording the song.

1:45 — “There’s no sex in your violence.”  We’re getting even more edgy here, folks.

2:05 — Gavin’s back to repeating “everything zen.”

2:10 — The birds are back, still trying to escape the band.  That guitarist isn’t going to let them go that easy, though.

2:13 — Why were bands in the 90s always playing in abandoned warehouses?

2:24 — Leave Elvis out of this, you wanker!

2:34 — He really wants us to know that he doesn’t believe Elvis is dead.

3:06 — Back to “There’s no sex in your violence.”  If he doesn’t believe that Elvis is dead, why should we listen to him about anything?  Maybe there is sex in your violence.

3:28 — I always hear this lyric as “Trust you once, wagah.”

3:36 — Some dude wearing an animal skin.  Does he think Elvis is dead?

3:48 — The woman is back but, in another 90s music video cliché, she disappears while running away.

3:53 — Chill out, Gavin.

4:06 — It’s that final, anguised “zen!” that makes me want to punch the wall.

One final note: Bush was British but they were never big in the UK.  This is all on you, America!

Music Video of the Day: Enter Sandman by Metallica (1991, dir. Wayne Isham)

My earliest memory of this song is a 6th grade math class. I don’t remember why, but they had a computer in there, and one of the kids put the song on. I have no idea when I first saw the music video. All I remembered about it was the bed getting hit by a truck. The rest of the music video is pretty forgettable.

I guess you could take it simply. It’s about a kid having nightmares that we ascribe to the “Sandman” bringing by putting you to sleep. Trying to carefully watch it now and paying attention to the lyrics, it looks a lot like the kid is having nightmares of death that don’t go away with age, but only become closer and closer to reality as the years pass. According to Songfacts, the line “off to Never Never Land” was supposed to be “disrupt the perfect family” as a reference to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The Sandman can bring you sleep, which is where you can die at any age, as shown by the old man who we also see alone in the bed. Plus, we tend to use sleep to mean both going to sleep at night and death, as in putting an animal to sleep. You also see that in the image of the old man underwater as if he is trying to kill himself. The scene with the kid praying as the old man watches really makes me think that they are meant to be the same person. In particular, since you are your own Sandman in reality. Never Never Land is a place where you never grow up, but sung darkly as Enter Sandman is by Metallica, then it makes it sound like a fantasy to cloak the fear of your eventual death. In that case, the Sandman could also be seen as The Reaper, and Never Never Land is just death. Or maybe I am just overthinking all of this because I had a friend who died in his sleep when he was a teenager. Probably not though seeing as this kind of thing is a bit of a motif in Metallica’s music such as the songs One and The Memory Remains.

The music video was directed by veteran music video director Wayne Isham. Unless you have never watched a music video before, you probably have seen his work. One minute it’s Enter Sandman for Metallica, and the next he is directing Bye Bye Bye for *NSYNC. More recently he brought us a music video for Nickelback and a couple for Neil Diamond. The point is that Wayne Isham seems to be willing to direct anything you give him.

Martin Coppen shot the music video. He has done around 40 music videos.

Jay Torres edited the music video. He has a handful of music video credits, but based on his website, seems to have gone on to other things.

Curt Marvis, Jeff Tannebring, and Matt Mahurin were producers on the music video. Matt Mahurin is the only one that seems noteworthy. He appears to have directed somewhere around 70-80 music videos. One of them was as Allen Smithee for the music video for Building A Mystery by Sarah McLachlan.