So we were riding down the highway headed to pick up my oldest daughter as she had just completed her freshman year of college…
You know how on road trips you end up riding through different areas and picking up different radio stations along the way, right?
Well, in the midst of one of those station switches, an old jam I hadn’t heard in awhile came on.
And guess what happened:
A car full of Black people started jammin to “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes.
Yes, Yes. A random denna mug 80’s band that I know nothing about outside of this song and video.
And we owe our appreciation for this song and others of its time to 2 entities:
MTV and Racism.
You see, this was before BET was a thing. Actually BET existed, but not everywhere. And even when we did finally get BET in the 804, it was only for a few hours at night on some weeknights.
VH-1 wasn’t popping yet.
So our only visual consistent connection to the music world, outside of the weekly episode of “Soul Train”, was MTV.
Good old MTV only played 3 types of music:
White folks, Michael Jackson and Prince. And even with MJ and The Artist, only one of them would be played per hour.
Dawg. One Black artist per hour. That was it.
So in order for us to enjoy the newness of the “music video”, we had to watch and appreciate what we were given.
Stray Cats, ZZ Top, Toto, Huey Lewis and the News, The Bangles, Rod Stewart, Van Halen, Pat Benatar, U2, Journey, The Police, Phil Collins, INXS, Pet Shop Boys, etc.
Eventually artists like Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston and Run DMC broke through. But at first, it was straight like that. All day, every day.
So of course, we found songs that we could rock with or ones where the video caught us. And 30+ years later, those songs are still some of our favorites and they bring back childhood memories.
Without MTV’s refusal to diversify their playlist and their continuation of stifling some genres while force feeding others, my ear for good music might not be as eclectic as it is.
So let me be the first to say thank you.
Thank you, Racism.
I knew you had to have at least ONE positive effect on society.
Sure it took a few hundred years to figure it out, but we found it.