Is it weird to want to time travel back to 1977?

In 1977, I was 13 years old. Now, I don’t want to be 13 again, particularly. In fact, for this bit of time travel, I’d want to time travel back while in my 23-year-old body. Hey, if it’s my time travel fantasy, I get to make the rules. And the rules are simple:

  • Travel back to a specific year
  • Be whatever I’d consider the optimal age for when I arrive

Why would I want to be 23 in 1977? To better appreciate the peak of disco? Well…sort of. Let me explain.

I went down one of those inevitable YouTube rabbit holes and ended up watching an Andy Gibb video of him performing his song “I Just Want to Be Your Everything”, which was a huge hit in 1977 (I remember it well, the song was constantly on the radio. Kids, ask your parents what a radio is). This was a live performance from Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and is actually pretty good. The fashions are, of course, extremely 70s and Gibb has that beautifully feathered mane that was the style at the time. Band members unironically wear suspenders. There are two keyboard players, one on each side of the stage, both also doing backup vocals. The one on the left is wearing very 70s shades, but the one on the right is wearing a red flannel shirt, which looks positively anachronistic. He also has that medium-length but big mound of hair (helmet hair?) that covered the ears. While this was also very 70s, it doesn’t look as dated to me. That, combined with his clothing choices, make him look a bit timeless.

And also adorable.

And that is why I’d like to be 23 in 1977. To admire his…keyboard playing. Without feeling like a dirty old man.

To answer the question in the title: Yes, it is weird. I am weird.

Here is the video (complete with incorrect, Enrgrish-style title):

Here is the keyboard player, caught from the 240p or whatever it was video. Apropos of nothing, I always liked the style of microphone shown in the still below. Very 70s, yes, but not in a bad way. It’s stylin’.

The hair also formed a protective layer for the skull.

The somewhat freaky video for “Prime Time”

“Prime Time” is the first song and a single from The Alan Parsons Project’s 7th album, Ammonia Avenue. As songs go, it’s catchy and poppy. I had somehow missed the video, which dates back to the album’s release in 1984, and it’s like “What if that mannequin episode of The Twilight Zone, but as a music video?”

It’s also, in its own way, very 1980s (the thumbnail always makes me think a Village People video is about to start).

Behold the story of mannequins come to life, then try to reconcile it to the song lyrics1:

  1. You can kind of match the video to the lyrics, with a little (lot?) of poetic license: “And it’s a prime time/Maybe the stars were right/I’ve got a premonition/It’s gonna be my turn tonight” ↩︎

Genesis in 1974: Very Serious Art

Yes, another Midnight Special video is posted below. Apparently, YouTube’s algorithm is pretty simple:

- Watch Video A
- Get recommendations for anything remotely like Video A for the rest of your natural life

So I now get a lot of Midnight Special video recommendations.

Genesis of the 1970s is a very different band than Genesis of the 1980s, which is probably what most people think of when they think of Genesis. In the 80s, they were led by Phil Collins and produced a string of pop music hits. When Gabriel was the lead singer, they were about Art.

There is a lot of Art in the performance for “Watcher of the Skies”. Peter Gabriel, dressed as a kind of sad space clown vampire, is soaking in it. On the one hand, you have to admire the dedication to the act. They bought into it, and played it to the hilt. And it was the early 70s. People were into prog rock. Everyone took it Very Seriously.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that when Peter Gabriel picked up the tambourine and starts holding it over his face, I lost it. I laughed harder than I have in a long time. It felt good.

My apologies to Peter Gabriel, sad space clown vampire.

The video:

The tambourine in question:

“How do I play this thing?!”

Everybody have fun tonight

In September of 1986 I turned 25 years old. A song by Wang Chung was also released that month called “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.” At the time, I thought it was pretty dumb. It even had this eye-rolling lyric where the band invokes itself as the personification of fun:

Everybody have fun tonight
Everybody Wang Chung tonight

I was a very serious person at age 25.

Today I realize that while this is a confection–a song you dance (and have fun) to, it’s also a brilliantly executed pop gem. The whole thing just moves (or slaps in the hipster parlance of 2023).

The official video is probably not a great choice for people prone to epileptic seizures, but this live version from 1987 not only captures the energy of the recorded song, it demonstrates that Wang Chung was a fantastic live band. And now that I am, ahem, not 25, I can better appreciate what they did.

I suggest we all Wang Chung a little tonight1You don’t need to DRESS like Wang Chung tonight, but if you can pull off 1980s fashion in the 2020s, rock your socks off.

Jeremy (in 2020)

As happens sometimes, I went to watch a video on YouTube and found myself going down the rabbit hole, bouncing from one video to the next and there goes an hour of time in what feels like seconds.

It started with watching a live version of “Live and Let Die” from 2009, followed by the opening credits version, then another live version from 1973. The song was a big hit, but I’m still surprised because structurally it’s a bit odd, with no traditional verse/chorus and several sudden shifts in tone (which McCartney was known for, especially in his early 70s songs).

This eventually, somehow, led to an “uncensored” version of Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy.” I love just about everything about this song: it’s catchy, evocative, haunting, it’s great fun to sing along with (“You too can be Eddie Vedder!”) and the video, which won MTV’s Video of the Year award in 1992, is equally effective, due to the young actor playing Jeremy, the striking art direction and, of course, the ever-intense Vedder howling away, veins on his forehead bulging.

I figured the uncensored part was the line “seemed a harmless little fuck” because MTV generally did not allow f-bombs to be dropped on air. But it turned out to be a mere second of footage right near the end, where Jeremy walks into the classroom, tosses an apple to the teacher, then turns to face his classmates. You see him make a motion as if he is raising a gun, then the shot cuts away to show the other children in tableau, with looks of shock and horror on their faces, many of them splattered in blood.

Some took this to mean Jeremy had shot up the room, but the uncensored version, in that one second of previously unseen footage, shows him raising the gun and putting it in his mouth. It’s quite chilling, and while I always thought that’s what happened, it was still stunning to see it. I get why MTV would not air it–probably out of fear of inspiring troubled kids to emulate Jeremy–but it’s good to see Pearl Jam finally make the original version of the video widely available. Its message of bullying, depression and suicide are probably more relevant now than they’ve ever been.

A sad coda in the comments (I know, never read the comments, but the ones I read are surprisingly decent) notes that the actor who played Jeremy died in a drowning accident in 2016 at the age of 36. The band went to his funeral.

Here’s the video:

Wolves, lower

I have nothing interesting to contribute today, so here’s a 1985 video of R.E.M. featuring a blond Michael Stipe singing “So. Central Rain” in Germany.