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.”

Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

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. ???)

Music Video of the Day: Real Men by Joe Jackson (1982, dir. Steve Barron)


Sometimes I remember a special day or month, and sometimes I forget. When I noticed it was Pride Month, I thought I should deliberately put in a couple in that area. I’m glad I remembered this one specifically because much like special times, I always forget that I have Joe Jackson music in my collection.

Technically, my first exposure to Jackson’s music was when I saw There’s Something About Mary (1998). It featured the song Is She Really Going Out With Him? I was really introduced to Jackson’s work by way of the album Strange Little Girls by Tori Amos. I liked the song, found out it was a cover, and sought it out. Cut to a few years later, and I got to see the video for the first time. In fact, I’m quite sure that the version I’ve embedded here is the exact airing of it that I saw.

Back in the early to mid-2000s, VH1 Classic used to do this thing where they would play two songs that would have some connection to each other. I’m pretty sure the pairs would have some connection to each other as well. I don’t remember them ever telling the audience that. I just recall noticing that they played this song along with I Don’t Like Mondays by Boomtown Rats. That song was covered by Amos on the same album. I picked up on a couple of other connections, and figured that’s what they were doing.

If you look around online, then you’ll find plenty of other people who have already written out their opinions on the song and video.

This is one of those that has some material from the book I Want My MTV:

Jeff Ayeroff [former creative director at Warner Bros. Records and the co-chairman of Virgin Records America]: Joe Jackson ended up selling many more records than Elvis Costello did, mainly because of his videos he did with Steve Barron.

Joe Jackson: Music videos weren’t even discussed when I made my first album in 1979. By 1982, there’d been a distinct shift. I made videos with Steve Barron for “Real Men” and “Steppin’ Out,” and by the time we got to “Breaking Us In Two,” I said to the label, “I don’t think this song should have a video.” I was told I had to made a video, whether I liked it or not. “Breaking Us In Two” was a crappy video. I was embarrassed. So I decided in my great wisdom that not only would I no longer make videos, but I would write an anti-video editorial for Billboard magazine. I mean, I’m not such a miserable bastard that I won’t admit that some videos are great fun. But I believed MTV was beginning to have a negative effect on music.

I’m well aware that refusing to make videos accomplished nothing whatsoever except–how should I put this?–to make my next record less successful. It damaged my career and it never fully recovered.

I like Breaking Us In Two. I see where he’s coming from on that one though. Out of the three Steve Barron videos, Steppin’ Out is the best. You can tell from all three of those videos that Barron was trying to craft a reusable formula for his songs. They have all have a similar visual style. Most importantly, Barron found a good place for Jackson. Yes, I’m aware he does more than just play the piano. I’m referring to the idea of each video being a short film that happens to have Jackson pop in, not as a the star, but as the story teller. Kind of like a holographic musical narrator.

Jackson didn’t completely leave music videos. He came back with other ones, which includes getting the Propaganda Films treatment for his song Nineteen Forever. You might know a couple of the people who worked or founded Propaganda Films, such as Nigel Dick, David Fincher, Michael Bay, Mark Romanek, and in the case of Nineteen Forever, Jackson got Alex Proyas.

Despite the 1979 comment, you can find several music videos from 1979. I guess they were done just for fun rather than something that he was obligated to make and weren’t taken so seriously. You can see the second one in the video for his song I’m The Man.

As for this video, it’s pretty basic all things considered. You have the kid who doesn’t like seeing a girl getting pushed around. Then you have the same kid going to put on some powder in a mirror with an American flag in the lower right. He decides against it, and instead goes and watches Red River (1948). Then you get some of the typical gay imagery with bikers and our main character who has grown up to be James Dean. He has trouble with girls and isn’t sure if it’s just that he isn’t good with them or if it’s something else. Jackson pops up occasionally, but isn’t the main focus.

The best part of the video is how it cuts back to footage from earlier in the video as you approach the tragic ending. I especially like the part where it implies that the kid who shot at the girl may or may not be straight himself. They also pair the two guys hitting it off with each other with him not being able to kiss the girl he’s with because she pulls away.

Despite the content of the song and video, it appears to have done well on early-MTV. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from doing these posts, it’s that music video history is distorted. For awhile, early Bon Jovi music videos, like the one for Runaway, were not to be played because it conflicted with the current image of the band.

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant (1983, dir. Steve Barron)


I finally broke down, and went ahead and bought the book I Want My MTV. It’s a fascinating read so far. I am still in the founding years, but whether there was systemic racism or even next to none, they were destined to run into a color barrier issue. There was enough bad ingredients and thinking to make sure it happened. Perhaps that’s the reason why it only took two years for it to fall while being riddled with inconsistencies in between.

I bring that up because while I saw this music video many times as a kid, it wasn’t till now that I noticed it is a music video I would have thought verboten by MTV. Instead it was Super Freak by Rick James. That actually has an interesting story. It wasn’t rejected because James was black. It was rejected by a black woman at MTV who thought it was “crap” and wasn’t going to let that be the representation of her people on the network. I can totally get that. That video essentially took the set of an early-70s ABBA music video, threw a couple of props in, added some women fawning over James, and called it good. The song is great, but the video is underwhelming to say the least.

As for Electric Avenue, it is one of those music videos they showed from time-to-time as an example of an 80s one-hit-wonder. That was his biggest hit. It isn’t fair to call him a one-hit-wonder him though. Even to this year he is still in the news. According to Wikipedia, he is slated to receive a lifetime achievement award from Guyana–his country of birth. He’d been around since the mid-60s with the group The Equals. You might not recognize the name The Equals. You have probably heard one of their songs. They did Police On My Back, which was later covered by The Clash.

The music video also shouldn’t be cited as simply an example of a one-hit-wonder. One of the things that is clear in the pre-MTV setup chapters of I Want My MTV is that artists were already chomping at the bit to have films that didn’t just overlay their music over scenes. They wanted film that knew how to use their songs, their meaning, and would be a representation of the song. It was not as revolutionary as Herbie Hancock’s Rockit. Still, it does get the gist of the song across to the audience.

It has Eddy watching TV at the beginning. He finally turns it off, walks towards the TV, and creates one of the most iconic bits in music video history. He drops into a pool of water trying to reach his television. He then appears to wash up on the beach in the real world where what appears to be two white cops/vigilantes are on the prowl. He seems to be stalked by these two people who I am pretty sure are white. In the end, it is a shot of has face.

According to Wikipedia:

“The song’s title refers to an area historically known as Electric Avenue; a reference to the first place electricity lighted the streets in the market area of Brixton, South of London. This is an area known in the modern times for its high population of Caribbean immigrants and high unemployment. Tensions grew until violence hit the street now known as the 1981 Brixton riot. A year later, this song played over the airwaves.”

I’m really curious about when and how much this music video aired on MTV considering the content. I know his music fit with the kind they wanted to play. Wikipedia says it was thrown in for racial diversity. That doesn’t change the fact that it screams unplayable by MTV during this time.

Director Steve Barron made it. He is one of the most influential music video directors of his time. I’ve already covered three of them, and I wasn’t even trying. He seems to have directed all but a couple of Eddy Grant’s music videos.

I want to make special note that I put 1983 as the release date for the music video even though IMVDb says 1982. Mvdbase even says the music video came out in January of 1983. That’s because while it was a big hit in the UK in 1982, based on the Wikipedia article, it didn’t make its way to the United States until 1983.

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Rosanna by Toto (1982, dir. Steve Barron)


Unless Lisa has changed her mind (very possible), she is currently posting dance scenes that she loves this week. I like coordinating a theme around a week or a month like we do here sometimes at Through The Shattered Lens. That’s why I am going to post six videos this week that feature dancing. I am starting with Toto’s Rosanna.

As you may have noticed, this is another one of these done by director Steve Barron. So far we have seen him direct music videos for The Human League in 1983 and a-ha in 1985. In 1982 he took Toto, who is probably best known for songs like Africa and Hold The Line, and brought us this mixture of Cynthia Rhodes doing her thing, West Side Story (1961), and Toto looking like they are on a darker looking version of the set that Stray Cats used in Stray Cat Strut.

The music video is similar to Whitesnake’s 1987 version of Here I Go Again. By that I mean they filmed some of Toto’s performance, but it’s really Cynthia Rhodes who shines as the West Side Story lady dancing in a red dress. My favorite part is at about the three minute mark of the video when it goes into pure instrumental and she lifts her leg up completely straight into the air against the chain link fence. Another nice moment is around the two minute mark when we are looking at a closeup shot of the lead singer’s face. In one shot of his face, we can see Rhodes dancing in the background, and the other time see the gang members walking towards him.

It also happens to be a great song by a group that certainly doesn’t get the same love as their songs such as Africa and Hold The Line. You can probably still talk to teenagers today who will not know the name of the group or the title of the song, but they will remember hearing that song about “I blessed the rains down in Africa” or “I touched the rains down in Africa” they heard on the radio at some point.

One final thing is that you might not know Cynthia Rhodes. She played Penny Johnson in Dirty Dancing (1987). She was also in the critical failure of a sequel to Saturday Night Fever (1977) called Staying Alive (1983). In other words, I think it’s safe to say that being in Runaway (1984) was the real reason she ultimately wound up giving up her career to be a full-time mother as IMDb says she did. She would also show up in at least two other videos done by her then husband Richard Marx. That, and she is a well-known dancer of the period in general.

This is also one of those music videos where we know more than just the director. Paul Flattery produced this music video. We will see him again and again.

It’s an excellent music video for an excellent song, and I hope you enjoy it.