My mother had a thing against MTV. It was weird, because we had HBO and sometimes they would show all manner of R ratedness, and she didn’t seem concerned at all about trying to block that from our impressionable eyes when she wasn’t at home. But she somehow took issue with tight leathered, bare chested young men singing about sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Me, I didn’t see it that way. Even though these days I’m rather shocked when I listen to the lyrics of some of my favorite songs from back then, the videos for them were generally pretty clean and always seemed to tell a story. Back in those days MTV just ran music videos all day long; there weren’t any of those crazy shows on then taking up hours of valuable time away from valuable video watching.
My friend Dawn and I started hanging out at her place on Friday nights to watch videos instead. We liked our MTV, but we discovered that the Atlanta station WTBS broadcast a show called Friday Night Videos. It was like MTV on a regular station, and they ran videos from 8pm until the wee hours…four or five in the morning. And the great news for us was, her parents had started going up North on Friday nights overnight, leaving us two eighth grade girls home alone. I’m not sure if my mother realized that so many of my sleepovers at Dawn’s house were completely unsupervised; we certainly didn’t advertise it. Other kids might have taken advantage of the lack of supervision, but the worst thing we did was generally raid her father’s half dollar collection to get a few small pizzas delivered.
Our rule was simple; we’d stay up until we’d seen Rick Springfield. He was so popular in those days, it was a sure thing that you’d see one of his videos at some point in the six or seven hours we’d stay up watching. We’d eat our pizzas and keep talking and writing and commenting on the music videos we saw. Neither of us liked Yes or the Cars videos, even though the music wasn’t bad. We both thought Cyndi Lauper was weird. Neither of us were too impressed with Duran Duran even though everyone seemed to be so crazy for them. We both liked Prince.
And we’d stay up that way until the wee hours of the morning, most Friday nights, just talking to each other and understanding each other. At some point we’d hear the car door slam, the iconic opening of Rick Springfield’s “Souls” video (my favorite), or the familiar 1, 4, 5 chord sequence that opened up “Jessie’s Girl” and we ‘d move close to the tiny (by today’s standards) black and white screen. We’d both ooh and ah over the video, what did it all mean (do you see the writing on the brick wall back there? What does it say?), talk about how one day we’d finally meet Rick and his band and he’d see in us the kindred spirits of like souls. But mostly, we would enjoy the calm and peace that came from both of us escaping from the real problems that were all around us, and the comfort that came in not doing so alone.