Showing posts with label whitney houston. Show all posts
Showing posts with label whitney houston. Show all posts

Friday, June 16, 2017

1987 And MTV

I know the old joke -- Remember when MTV played music?

In 1987, I was in that sweet spot -- thirty-two years old, with two kids who were still fun to be around. I had a job I still liked; second shift at the local hospital, a work schedule that suited our family's circumstances just fine.The Medical Floor had two wings, a modern robin's-egg blue-walled cubby with a softly-carpeted waiting area near the elevator, furnished with cushy magenta chairs and sunflower prints on the walls; and the old annex, with its scuffed linoleum and the clatter of every dropped dinner tray echoing off its cavernous walls. I believe in the thirties the old wing was used as a psychiatric cell. Our work schedules were hand-drawn three months in advance, so we worker drones would know where we belonged on any given day. I rotated between the old and new wings. I liked the old one. I can't explain it rationally -- I think it just felt more real. A hospital is a sad place, but we didn't give in to sorrow. We couldn't. We had our "regulars"; those who were admitted every couple of weeks or so -- the elders with emphysema, the teenage kids with cystic fibrosis, who were the most joyous humans on the planet. We all knew their timeline was approaching its end and we huddled together and dripped tears on the newspaper print when a sad obituary was flayed across the nurses' station.

I was a civilian -- a ward clerk who tended to the doctors' orders and the next-day's breakfast choices. I scheduled surgeries and made sure the lab techs drew blood for the appropriate tests. I filled water pitchers. I helped to turn the patients when the RN's were busy tending to a combative old man who had wrested out of his restraints.

Around lights-out, the nurses and I settled in at the station and worked on our craft projects. Cross-stitch became my salve, my Zen. We flipped up the volume on the radio dial and bounced a bit in our chairs to the latest hits. Ten o'clock, I zipped through the sliding doors in the lobby, keys in hand; breathed in the cool night air, and snuggled inside the warm leather for my short drift home.

Our radio station was Y93. I was alive. Our Minnesota Twins were on a tear. I adopted baseball in 1987. We could feel it -- this time they were going to win it all -- our ragtag heroes, Gaetti, Hrbek, Kirby, Frank Viola, Dan Gladden, Brunansky. I learned to call strikes. I became a fool baseball expert in 1987.

And the radio and MTV featured songs like this:

I remember calling our local station and requesting that song, and the supercilious woman disc jockey informing me that they didn't play "that crap". She only deigned to play ZZ Top and Eric Clapton, apparently. You know, the stuff you twirl the dial on your radio to get away from. Because, you know, one just can't get enough of "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)".

1987 was also the year a savant voice appeared; somebody who couldn't possibly be that good, but she was. She was but twenty-four years old and she put all the old dudes and dudettes to shame. The sun sparkled in her eyes. Just watch:

Is Wang Chung a weird name? It doesn't seem weird to me, in hindsight. I do, though, remember an episode of Cheers in which Fraser Crane recited these immortal words:

Everybody have fun tonight
Everybody Wang Chung tonight

Concert videos, even "fake" concert videos, were awesome to we MTV viewers.  It's like we're there! 

Okay, I understood the stagecraft, but that didn't detract from this song's impact. Although I will say the song would not be quite as fabulous if it weren't for the "ooh-wah ooh-wah" talkbox. Just sayin'.

Not to mention the hair. And flying into the crowd was a cool touch.

And speaking of hair, let's just say this: Yes, it was the eighties. Yes, we had big hair; even the boys. Height was the desired standard. I had essentially the same hairstyle that John Bon Jovi had. It wasn't weird, because everybody looked like that. Sure, in hindsight it's weird. Again, it was the eighties. We also wore eyeglasses with gigantic frames that stretched from the tip of our hairline down to just above our upper lip. Again, it was the eighties.

Also, we had music videos with super models flouncing across the hoods of cars:

Some Irish band (who'd never last) appeared on the scene in '87.

If you're a girl, you'll understand this next song. If you're not a girl, you will be flummoxed. I don't understand the male brain. I guess men like fast cars and big guns and quick scene flashes. I guess it's why my husband likes "Big Trouble In Little China", which, while we're watching it for the twentieth time, allows me time to take a quick snooze. I don't know why men don't feel the emotional impact of this (please disregard the crappy preview):

There are the purists who say that Peter Cetera ruined Chicago. Then there's me who says, who the F gave a damn about Chicago before Peter Cetera joined the group? I don't know what Peter Cetera is doing nowadays, but I assume he's sitting at home counting his wads of cash. Cetera was ubiquitous on 1980's movie soundtracks. Think "Karate Kid".

Peter Cetera teamed with Amy Grant for a big 1987 hit:

I don't know about you, but for me, 1987 is defined by Huey Lewis and the News. There was just something about Huey. He was geeky and not anyone one would associate with pop music. And yet it worked. Sorry this video is so badly constructed:

As a sorta country-pop geek, this was my VERY FAVORITE single from 1987, and I love it today:

Ahh, 1987 was a year. I love it for the tingling sensation of new untraveled roads. I miss it for the person I was then; wide-eyed, abashed.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I Still Want My MTV

Yep, we've been feeling a bit nostalgic lately.  If you read my previous post, you were no doubt transported back in time, to those bygone days, when times were so much more innocent.

Sort of like this:

I'm just kidding, of course.

There were a lot of music videos that particularly struck my fancy (or at least my funny bone) way back in the 1980's.  Here are a few:

I heard this next song one day on my car radio, and it struck me:  this could be a country song  (seriously)!  Of course, that would just ruin it, but I'm just saying, this song is structured like a country song:

I must include two by Springsteen, because both of these videos are nostalgic for me, and one of them features Courteney Cox (because I love trivia):

And this next one just makes me feel good:

In my book, I noted that we choose to remember the '80's as the time of Springsteen and Michael Jackson; when in actuality, they were the time of Genesis and Lionel Richie.  Every time I flipped my TV on, there was Lionel.  Like this:

So, I just wanted to set the record straight on that.

Moving on, however; I don't care who says Huey Lewis and the News are kitschy.  Not to me!  I love them!

And this one was "fun":

Both the hair and the music are excellent on this one; although the split screen tends to make my head throb:

I don't even know how I forgot about this, but in addition to Genesis and Lionel Richie, the 1980's were SO all about Whitney:

BLOGGER'S NOTE:  While I love, love Prince, I definitely do NOT love his stingy ways.  Prince (a Minnesotan, alas, like me) chooses to not make his videos available to anyone.  I do not know why, but I've been down this road before, and I've yet to find an official Prince video online.  And I'm not about to risk a computer virus trying to find a bootleg copy.

Speaking of Genesis (not to change the subject), an unusual phenomenon occurred in the '80's:  Phil Collins discovered (much to his surprise!) that he was suddenly a sex symbol.  And thus, he left his bandmates (and his drum kit) behind, and stepped into the spotlight as a solo artist:

Of course, I didn't forget Michael Jackson!  I succinctly remember all the pre-video hype about Thriller; how MTV got us all worked up with regular news flashes and every-five-minute promos.  I'm not going to post all 13 or so minutes of Thriller, though.  Feel free to search it out on YouTube.  I do like this one a bunch, however (and believe it or not, it's more memorable to me than Thriller ~ maybe it was the moon walk):

I'm realizing that this post is becoming a tome, so I need to stop; although the more I think about MTV videos, the more I say, hey!  That one!  What about that one!  That one was great!

So, I will end by posting a couple that are either fun or just plain cool.  You be the judge:

And my favorite....Yea, Shania did a takeoff of this video, which was actually cool, even if derivative.  But nothing beats the original:

Bottom line, for me, is; I do love the eighties and my MTV.   My music tastes are perhaps odd.  My times were the sixties; the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Motown; the eighties (and my MTV!), and strangely, eighties country (Dwight, George, Nitty Gritty, Rodney, et al).  I know those don't seem to go together, but I just like what I like. 

And I like reliving good times.  Those three categories reflect "good times" for me.  Maybe it was me; maybe it was the music.  Maybe it was just both.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Fame Does

I'm obviously not a famous person, nor will I ever be. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

I've been thinking about it a lot this past week, and kind of getting angry.

It seems that what fame does is destroy fragile souls.

Face it, artists are fragile to begin with. At least most of them. It's that sensitivity that allows them to tap into the feelings, wants, fears of the world at large.

It's a double-edged sword, to quote an over-used cliche.

But even not-so-sensitive people fall prey to the dishonesty that comes with fame.

You know, the hangers-on; the ones who really don't give a damn about you, but they'll say, "Yes, Ma'am", "You bet, Sir", just to keep getting their palms greased. They're no fools.

I read some stories in the past week, where people who interacted with Whitney in her last days said, "Oh, she was FINE! No, there was no strange behavior! Are you kidding? She was great ~ in high spirits; fully in control."


I saw the pictures. If those people think she was "fine", they must live in a nether world that the rest of us simpletons can't seem to view through our naive haze of reality.

Fine. Protect her reputation. It's a little late now, though.

How about one of those morons taking her aside and asking, "Are you okay? Is there anything I can do to help you? I'm worried about you".

But it's not just Whitney. It was Michael. It was Amy. It was Elvis.

They were all "just fine". Okay.

"Are you sure you should be mixing those pills with alcohol, Whitney?" Did anyone ask that?

Elvis had his own "mafia" around him. Hand-picked. "Hey, Big E! TCB! Got another Cadillac you'd like me to take of your hands?" I wonder if they feel really good about themselves.

"Oh, Michael? Well, he's just 'shy'."

"So, Mr. Jackson, you want me to smuggle some Propofol out of the hospital and shoot it through your veins? I see absolutely no problem with that!", says Dr. Murray. "By the way, when can I expect my next paycheck?"

"Amy, you are looking GOOD! Have you put on a few pounds? You look so healthy!"

Did any, just ONE, person around these artists ever deign to tell them the truth? I doubt it.

They surrounded themselves with sycophants.

Of course, it's ultimately the responsibility of the person themselves to get it together.

They become...I don't know, spoiled? Big spoiled brats?

So used to everyone bowing and scraping that they take advantage of it? Expect it?

It seems like Elvis was that way. Seems to me that he banished anyone who would dare speak some truth. How dare they? Don't they know who I am? THEY don't think. I do the thinking around here. And it's all about me. Nobody else. ME. I am the star. I am, in fact, the king of the world! Everyone tells me I am. So, I am.

"All my fans really love me."

Well, here's the thing: unless you're some kind of shallow, celebrity-obsessed cyborg, you do not actually LOVE an artist.

What you love is, the memories they have created for you.

It's really NOT about them; it's about you.

Honestly. Think about the songs that flash in your mind. The ones that, to you, are classics. Why are they classics to you? Because they were the soundtrack of YOUR life. A special time. These songs were the BACKGROUND for your movie.

You flash back on these songs, you're not picturing the artist. You're picturing where YOU were; what YOU were doing; what YOU were feeling, at that exact time.

They flatter themselves too much. If it wasn't them, in particular, it would have been someone else. That's just the way it is.

I don't LOVE Whitney Houston. I never met Whitney Houston. How could I love her? Even among the people I actually know, I wouldn't say I love the majority of them. I love my husband. I love my kids. I love my siblings. I like a lot of people, but again, these are people I have actually met and interacted with.

I do love some of Whitney's songs. They take me back to a time in my life. I remember turning the radio on, waltzing around, cleaning house, singing along off-key. It was a happy time for me. My kids were young; life seemed so open and bright.

I love some of Michael Jackson's songs, and mostly, his performances of them. It was the time of MTV videos. My kids were of an age when they were starting to get into music. I loved watching their interest in music begin to take root.

I admired Amy Winehouse's artistry. I liked that she was kind of a throwback to an earlier time. I remember my husband and I listening to her CD together. I remember the closeness we felt as we shared that time.

I admit, I am a bit lost about Elvis. You see, he was before my time, really. I was always sort of critical of his recordings, because I found them to be over-produced and his voice too bombastic.

Yet, I do remember as a kid, playing the 45 of "Return To Sender" and singing along. Honestly, at that age, I thought he was singing, "Return to Cinda" ~ a variation of Cindy? So, hearing that song takes me back to the upstairs of the farmhouse, and me dropping the needle on the turntable, and pretending I was the one on stage singing. Again, a time in my life.

It was only years later, when I heard some of his Sun recordings, that I began to appreciate Elvis more. In the time that he was around, in my memory bank, in the seventies, I remember seeing footage of middle-aged women throwing their underwear at him, and me wondering, what the hell? He was doing a parody of himself, I thought. "Hunka hunka burnin' love"? You could hear the background singers way more than you could actually hear Elvis.

To me, he was completely delusional. Doing those karate stances. Wearing the big chains and the big sunglasses. Those vacant, drug-addled eyes. I thought he was a joke, but he was the only one who wasn't in on it.

But then, I would hear, "Can't Help Falling In Love", where he actually practiced some modulation, that I thought, well, he really CAN sing.

So, much as these artists chose to believe that people really loved them, people really didn't.

I guess the price of fame was that they became more and more isolated, and they chose to surround themselves with people who would give them what they wanted them to give, and would say things that they wanted them to say.

It's a self-centeredness that, I suppose, is human nature. Maybe I'd like to have a servant, too. But would I? I think it would begin to feel like a sort of prison. Always being hovered over. No time to myself. Losing myself.

I think these guys were lost.

And while I'm on the subject, I'm going to say this: These entertainment magazines, and these tabloids, just love, LOVE, this kind of story. It's one last way to exploit these people. One last way to extract a buck from them. Sure we read this stuff, so maybe we're exploiting them, too. Maybe the whole world just feeds off the sad stories of their lives. It completes the circle. In one flash of time, we dance joyously to their music, and in the next flash, we gossip in hushed tones about their downfall.

It just seems to me that the price of fame is too high.

I thought about this, and I decided that I would end this post with the way they were. The way WE remember them. The soundtrack of OUR lives. Thank you for the memories. Regardless of how it turned out in the end, we won't, can't, forget your music.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


A friend just emailed me the news (I didn't have the TV on tonight).

I just hate stuff like this.

When you're only 48 years old, you're supposed to keep hangin' around.

Immediately, I was transported back to the nineteen eighties, and pop radio. I was a disciple of Top 40 radio in the eighties.

The news makes me want to cry. I am thinking, too much hard living, and her heart gave out. I don't know; nobody knows at this point.

I DO know that, in the 1980's, the one lone female voice that broke through was hers. Yes, I know there was Madonna. But if you think back with a clear head, you realize that Madonna had nothin' on Whitney.

Whitney was huge.

So, nothing profound tonight. Just some music videos from Whitney Houston.

One of my favorites:

Dolly....she probably never imagined it like this:

Rest in peace, Whitney. Just too soon.

Just too damn soon.