Music/Popular Culture

TunesDay: video loved the radio star

When I was in high school back in the Dark Ages we didn’t have music video channels. Kinda like today. But we did have this great show called The Midnight Special, which came on late Friday nights. In addition to live performances by a tremendous range of artists, it also emerged as the place where you could see music videos before we even knew to call them music videos.

The guy who really figured this “video” thing out first, I think, was David Bowie. If you’ve seen pictures from his Ziggy Stardust era you know that he clearly understood the impact of the rock visual years before anyone else. And The Midnight Special was the place where I first saw some of Bowie’s great rock film efforts. I wonder how many future music artists and film students were watching right along with me.

So this TunesDay, let’s hop in the wayback machine and review some of the Bowie clips that dazzled and amazed at least one simple, small-town boy in the 1970s and early ’80s.

Might as well start at the top, huh?

“DJ” has always been my favorite Bowie tune, and this video is a big reason why. Back when I was doing the club DJ gig in grad school (Top o’ the Town and That Place in Ames, Iowa!) I had a mug inscribed with “I am the DJ, I am what I play” in hand at all times. Sort of a reminder, you know?

I’m not sure, but I think TMS is where I first saw this clip for “Fashion.”

You’ve probably seen “Ashes to Ashes,” which seems to have been pretty influential for artists in the early days of the MTV Age.

TunesDay salutes David Bowie, a man who pioneered in so many ways. And if we had the money, we’d buy every DJ in America a mug just like the one I had back in grad school….

7 replies »

  1. He is one incredible person.

    Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes are recent series in the UK where his tunes headline.

    Great post…Ashes to Ashes being my favourite tune.

    “I’m happy, hope your happy too.”

  2. I suppose we could argue the semantics of what you mean by “video”, but the idea of a rock video that uses the musician’s tune as a backdrop for action besides showing the band playing comes from Richard Lester’s brilliant A HARD DAY’S NIGHT.

    I’m not trying to undercut Bowie’s greatness – but he was where YOU discovered video. There’s a brilliant video done in 1968 for Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride.” That’s where it started for me. And there’s this, of course…

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