Music Video of the Day: All She Wants To Do Is Dance by Don Henley (1985, directed by Steve Barron)

Well we barely make the airport
For the last plane out
As we taxied down the runway
I could hear the people shout
They said, “don’t come back here Yankee”
But if I ever do
I’ll bring more money
‘Cause all she wants to do is dance
And make romance
Never mind the heat
Comin’ off the street
She wants to party
She wants to get down
All she wants to do is
All she wants to do is dance
And make romance
All she wants to do is dance

— All She Wants To Do Is Dance by Danny Kotchmar

Though songwriter Danny Kotchmar and singer Don Henley may have intended All She Wants To Dance to serve as a biting statement on American imperialism and the lack of political commitment on the part of the the youth of the 80s, I have to wonder how many listeners picked up on the message when they first heard the song.  All She Wants To Dance is one of Don Henley’s most enjoyable songs with a tune that is far more memorable than something like The End of the Innocence or New York Minute.  In 1985, people were probably too busy dancing to this song to consider what Henley was attempting to say about America’s activities in Central America.

The video finds Henley and the band in one of those post-apocalyptic clubs that were very popular in 80s music videos.  This was one of the many music videos to be directed by Steve Barron, who has directed videos for everyone from Tears For Fears to the Human League to A-ha and David Bowie.  Barron, who started his career as a camera assistant on films like A Bridge Too Far, Superman, and The Duelists, is still an active director, mostly for television.

All She Wants To Do Is Dance was hardly Henley’s only politically-themed song and video.  Whenever I think of Henley, I’m reminded of something that Alice Cooper said shortly before the 2004 presidential election.  When presented with a list of musicians who had endorsed John Kerry, Cooper said, “If I wasn’t already a Bush supporter, I would have immediately switched. Linda Ronstadt? Don Henley? Geez, that’s a good reason right there to vote for Bush.”


Happy birthday, Lisa!

Music Video of the Day: Rough Boy by ZZ Top (1986, directed by Steve Barron)

“He’s this fictitious character who was the only way that ZZ Top was going to get to play another ballad. The way he came up was, ‘How would a ZZ Top fan allow such a beautiful, lush bed of sound into their realm?’ The pretty music had to have a rough boy in it. He’s there. On El Loco we did ‘Leila’ which is ZZ Top-meets-the-Beach Boys. I don’t think it worked as well as, say, a synth programmer meeting a rap guy in an alley in New York. The only thing is, how long is it going to be before somebody says, ‘Hey, man! You the rough boy?’ How are you going to answer that?”

— Billy Gibbons, on Rough Boy

Today’s video of the day is the video for Rough Boy, a.k.a. ZZ Top In Space.

After spending the previous four ZZ Top videos changing lives and saving relationships, Billy Gibbons’s car, the Eliminator, achieved it’s final destiny by becoming a space shuttle and breaking free of the Earth’s atmosphere.  In this video, the Eliminator docks into a space station, where it gets washed and impresses a robot about whom it can truly be said, “She’s got legs.”  In fact, that’s all she’s got.

Rough Boy has a notably slower tempo than many of ZZ Top’s other songs and the same thing can be said of this video.  It’s a good video but it still feels different from what we typically think of when we think about ZZ Top.  This video says that the Eliminator and the band have both earned the right to take it easy and enjoy a good sponge bath.

Like the video for Sleeping Bag, Rough Boy was directed by Steve Barron.  Barron is officially credited with having directed 74 music videos, including the famous animated video for a-Ha’s Take Me On.


Previous Eliminator Appearances:

  1. Gimme All Your Lovin’
  2. Sharp Dressed Man
  3. Legs
  4. Sleeping Bag

Music Video of the Day: Sleeping Bag by ZZ Top (1985, directed by Steve Barron)

“Sleeping bags used to be a real drag to contend with, when you’re in the Boy Scouts and the best you can do is one of those Army sleeping bags. The old-timey kind that were heavy. Then in the late ’60s or ’70s, they came out with those down-filled bags that roll up into the size of a cantaloupe. It’s changed the whole idea of a sleeping bag. I had one of those that looks just like a mummy case. That’s where the line in the song comes from: ‘Sleep beside the pharoahs in the shifting sands.'”

— Billy Gibbons

“I used to own a sleeping bag. I used to go camping. But I don’t own a sleeping bag now. I own a sleeping bag in my mind.”

— Dusty Hill

Sleeping Bag was the first single to be released off of ZZ Top’s follow-up to Eliminator, Afterburner.  Both the band and Warner Bros. felt that the perfect way to transition from the Eliminator songs to the Afterburner songs would be to make one more video featuring the ZZ Top girls and Billy Gibbons’s car.  However, when director Tim Newman (who previously did Gimme All Your Lovin, Sharp Dressed Man, and Legs) was approached to direct the video, he wanted more money than the label was willing to pay.  As a result, Steve Barron was hired to direct instead and the end result was a video that was much different from the previous three Eliminator videos.

In this video, the band and the ZZ Top Girls go from giving makeovers to saving lives.  When a young couple (played by Heather Langenkamp and John Dye) is menaced by two rednecks in a monster truck, the Eliminator sacrifices itself to keep them safe.  Don’t worry, though.  Apparently, the ghosts of ZZ Top have been keeping a space shuttle in Egypt.  It all makes sense when you consider that this was the 80s and everyone was obsessed with space shuttles and monster trucks.

Heather Langenkamp made this video a year after starring in A Nightmare on Elm Street and, not surprisingly, several parts of the video seem like they could have been lifted from Wes Craven’s seminal horror film.  The shadows of the rednecks outside the tent seem like they are intentionally meant to bring to mind Freddy Krueger.

Steve Barron was another one of those directors who seemed to work with almost everyone.  He would go on to direct ZZ Top’s next video, Rough Boy, which we’ll look at tomorrow.


Music Video of the Day: Don’t You Want Me by The Human League (1981, directed by Steve Barron)

Inspired by a story that the Human League’s Phil Oakley read in a teen-girl’s magazine, Don’t You Want Me is a song not about love but instead a song about two people battling for control.  While the song was originally conceived as being a male solo, Oakley made the last-minute decision to turn it into a duet, with Susan Ann Sulley taking on the role of the girl who once worked in a cocktail bar but always knew she was meant for a much better life.

After the song was recorded, Oakley disliked it because he felt that the song’s sound was too “poppy” and he was not happy when Virgin decided to release Don’t You Want Me as the fourth single off of The Human League’s third studio album, Dare!  Despite Oakley’s misgivings, Don’t You Want Me went on to become the band’s biggest hit and one of its signature songs.

(As of 2014, Phil Oakley still didn’t think much of the song.  In an interview with Classic Pop Magazine, Oakley said, “‘Don’t You Want Me‘ might have shifted gazillions, but either I’ve heard it too many times or the rest of Dare! is just so far ahead that it puts it in the shade. Still, it made the band.”)

The music video was shot at a time when MTV was still in its infancy and many people weren’t even sure what a music video was supposed to be.  Filmed on a cold, rainy night in Slough, Berkshire, the video featured Phil Oakley as a director and Susan Ann Sulley as the actress who walks out on him during the filming of a murder-mystery.  Director Steve Barron used 35mm film, giving the video a richly cinematic look that was unusual for the music videos of the time.  Reportedly, Barron was influenced by Truffaut’s Day For Night, which is why the clapper board features the inscription, Le League Humain.

The video not only helped to make the song a hit but it also did the same for MTV itself.  At a time when many were still wondering if people would actually watch MTV, the popularity of this video gave them a reason to do just that.  The video proved that music videos didn’t have to just be bland performance clips.  Instead, like any film, a music video could tell a story of its very own.

Don’t You Want Me was the 1981 Christmas number one in the UK, where it has sold over 1,560,000 copies, making it the 23rd most successful single in the history of the UK Singles Chart.  In 2015, in an ITV poll, it was voted the 7th most popular number one single of all time.

Music Video of the Day: Money for Nothing by Dire Straits (1985, directed by Steve Barron)

In a 1984 interview, Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler had this to say about the song that would not only become the band’s biggest hit but also one of the best known videos from the early years of MTV:

The lead character in “Money for Nothing” is a guy who works in the hardware department in a television/​custom kitchen/​refrigerator/​microwave appliance store. He’s singing the song. I wrote the song when I was actually in the store. I borrowed a bit of paper and started to write the song down in the store. I wanted to use a lot of the language that the real guy actually used when I heard him, because it was more real….

According to Knopfler, he was in a New York appliance store when he heard a man who worked there complaining about all of the TVs in the shop being tuned to MTV.  (Urban legend has it that the man was watching a Motley Crue video.)  Knopfler wrote down the man’s exact words, which included the famous line about “money for nothing and chicks for free,” and later set them to music.  (Knopfler also included the man’s controversial description of a rock star as being “that little faggot with the earring and the makeup.”  In 2011, 26 years after the song’s initial release, that line would lead to the  Canadian Broadcast Standards Council banning the song from being played on Canadian radio stations.)  After hearing the band’s initial recording of the song, Sting suggested the “I want my MTV” line and was rewarded with a co-writer credit.

The ground-breaking music video was one of the first to feature computer animation.  Under the direction of Steve Barron, Ian Pearson and Gavin Blair (who later founded Rainmaker Studios) created the animation using a Bosch FGS-4000 CGI system and a Quantel Paintbox system.

Money for Nothing spent 3 weeks as the number one single in the United States and the video was named Video of the Year at the 3rd Annual MTV Music Awards.

Music Video of the Day: Pale Shelter by Tears For Fears (1983, directed by Steve Barron)

Back in the day, living it up in Vice City

Today’s music video of the day is for a song that I used to enjoy listening to back when I was living in Vice City.  Believe it or not, I used to steal cars just so I could turn the radio over to Wave 103 and listen to songs like Pale Shelter by Tears For Fears.  I know I’m not alone.  Vice City was a crazy place to live, man.

As for the video, it was directed by Steve Barron (who was responsible for several classic new wave videos) and is about weird things happening in Los Angeles.

It begins with a classic California scene as a woman in a red, one-piece bathing suit dives into a pool.  She’s soon joined by an alligator, which causes her to fly straight into the air.  This followed by a police officer directing traffic, a child raising his hand in school, a woman taking laundry off a line, a soccer team celebrating a goal, a blonde stretching in bed, and an airplane flying over an airport.  When the laundry woman burns a shirt with an iron, it leaves a giant, steaming imprint in the middle of the runway.

Standing in the middle of imprint, Curt Smith drops his guitar which ruins everyone’s day.  The police officer loses his cool.  The blonde realizes she’s overslept.  The laundry woman panics as it starts to rain.  The child in school isn’t called on and retaliates by making a paper airplane that he throws out the window.

Soon, hundreds of paper airplane are raining down on Curt Smith and Roland Orzbal.  Most of them seem to be hitting Curt.

Everyone in the video looks up to the sky and things get better.  The school child is reunited with the laundry woman.  Curt fixes his broken guitar.  The blonde gets out of bed, drives her car, and catches the eye of the policeman.  The soccer players congratulates themselves on a good game.

Curts throw his guitar into the air.  Back in the school, all the students start to throw paper airplanes.  The alligator gets back in the pool.  A paper airplane hits Curt right between the eyes.  The woman in the red bathing suit heads back down to Earth while the alligator eats Curt’s guitar.

And you thought Vice City was a strange place!

Music Video of the Day: Heaven by Bryan Adams (1985, dir. Steve Barron)

No, this is not the more well-known version that I think was made because someone thought the music video for Run To You needed a direct sequel. This is the one where Bryan Adams falls asleep in front of a television and dreams about playing with a band on televisions to an audience of people on televisions which was then put on television so that people could watch Bryan Adams performing to other people watching him through televisions. That’s weird.

It was shot in London. It was produced by Simon Fields. It was directed by Steve Barron, which I guess explains the meta-nature of the video since he also directed Money For Nothing by Dire Straits.


30 Days Of Surrealism:

  1. Street Of Dreams by Rainbow (1983, dir. Storm Thorgerson)
  2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Children by Dio (1985, dir. Daniel Kleinman)
  3. The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
  4. Take Me Away by Blue Öyster Cult (1983, dir. Richard Casey)
  5. Here She Comes by Bonnie Tyler (1984, dir. ???)
  6. Do It Again by Wall Of Voodoo (1987, dir. ???)