Nov 212008

It’s 1979, late some Saturday night. I’m 16 years old, and the only one awake in my house. I’m sitting on the couch in my family’s wood-paneled basement, watching some early rock video show on a UHF station. The following video comes on the tv.

You’ve got to remember, kids our age didn’t have MTV and websites with every avaiable shot ever taken of a band there for the Googlin’. If you weren’t really into a band that was just breaking into the mainstream, you may not know what every shaggy haired musician in every band looked like. Shoot, these days we even know what that Munchkin-looking guy in Death Cab for Cutie looks like! That cat was stuck back in the corner of band photo shoots in 1979.

By that night in 1979, I was already becoming aware of the music being made by what would soon become my least-favorite band of all time, but because I already hated their music so much and was so set on following the beat of ’60s and punk bands that caught my ear, I paid little attention to the photos of Journey that might have appeared in Rolling Stone. Come on, I wouldn’t be caught dead reading about that band!

Anyhow, this video show was the only rock show on tv – and it wasn’t like I had 8000 cable network options to flip through for the next 4 minutes. The Journey video got underway and I noticed that the blouse on the woman fronting that band was…promising! For the first time in my life I took notice of at least one aspect of the band Journey. I did my best to tune out the song and focus on the proto-Shirley Manson money shot.

Reviewing this video after nearly 30 years, I’m struck by how visceral my teenage memories of that night remain. Following I match up specific points in this video with some of those visceral memories:

  • 00:41 Yeah, she better throw her left arm across that blouse before it flies open!
  • 1:48 As more camera angles from the singer’s back right side are cut in and the passion builds, I’m pretty certain that I’m about to strike paydirt with a worthwhile view.
  • 1:49 Not much in the hips department…

By this point into the video, I began to have some creeping questions, questions like, Is she or isn’t she? and Is the warm feeling that’s developing down there all right considering my possible confusion? I quickly fend off all such negative, self-critical thoughts as I see this…

  • 1:54 Wow, that was some dip to the right! It’s not like there’s much to see, but did I see something?
  • 2:23 All this swinging and swaying during this “Nah nah” section is gonna get hairy! Must. Not. Blink.
  • 2:47 Should I be feeling this way?

Then the cuts to each band member egging on the crowd start to bug the crap out of me. I don’t know who’s more annoying, the keyboardist or the guitarist. The bassist looks like a reject from ABBA. I’m starting to wonder what good-looking woman would be caught dead hanging with these clowns. It’s not like Pat Benetar with her swarthy Italian stud lover-lead guitarist firing off hot licks as she works the crowd. Something’s not right here. I begin spending more time trying to get a sense of what’s going on in the singer’s leather pants rather than focusing on that silk blouse.

  • 3:29 Soft on: there’s nothing cooking under that blouse!

Then the keyboardist gets up on his stool and starts swaying his arms. The whole video has turned into some cross-dressing, relatively hip Catholic dudes’ idea of Wednesday night mass. Shame on me for having stuck around so long for the teenage thrill of a nipple slip! At this moment I’m certain I will never be a fan of Journey. Gregg Rollie spoiled what little chance I had of hanging in there and coming to terms with this experience.


  9 Responses to “RTH Confessional: I Know What I Am and I’m Glad I’m a Man”

  1. BigSteve

    This song is almost 4 minutes long, but did you realize that the na-na part starts at 2:17?!! Can you imagine recording this song and thinking ‘let’s polish this thing off with a minute and a half of nonsense singalong’?

    And, not to play into the Mod’s fantasy life, but what’s with the singer’s huge uh microphone? It’s got some kind of enormous transformer or something at the hand end. It’s kind of like watching an old TV show where a character is talking on some boxy 20 lb ‘portable’ telephone.

  2. saturnismine

    First of all, Mod, hilarious breakdown of the homoerotic aspects of this vid.

    I remember having a similar “is she or isn’t she?” experience at an only slightly later date with Nick Gilder’s performance of “Hot Child In the City.” The only difference is that hearing the song made me sure it was a “she,” and seeing this performance

    made me quickly realize that I was mistaken.

    There were no soft on, or “should I be having these feelings?” moments either, but there *was* the private embarrassment at having thought to myself upon *hearing* the song without seeing its singer that “the chick who sings this song sounds pretty hot, maaaan!”

    On a related note: In the early 90s, that at a party, one of my more dope addled friends claimed, to a room full of people (mixed company), that he had jagged off to pictures of “that chick from hanson.”

    we could hardly wait to tell him it was a young teen-aged boy. it’s the stuff of legend now, and in a certain subset of philadelphia indie rockers, that story never gets old with repetition.

    BigSteve as far as the song length and its proportion goes, I’d be shocked if they didn’t think they were following the “hey jude” model, but condensing it to ensure airplay.

  3. dbuskirk

    I can’t watch this video without feeling that my marriage is under attack.

  4. You’ve been hiding that one in for a long time, Mr Mod. That’s the first I’ve heard of this – and I’m quite glad. Back in the day, that might have been a freindship-ender

  5. I’d be happier if you had confessed you killed a hobo when you were a teenager rather than that you made it through an entire Journey video.

    The new sticky rhino look is cool, but the ads in the right hand corner look like Gerry Todd mock-ups.

  6. Mr. Moderator

    Yeah, Sat, Gilder was pretty cute in his prime. I can see how you must have been diggin’ the Annie Hall Look he sports in that video.

  7. Big Steve’s observation on Journey’s na-na overload brought back a funny for me.

    When the White Sox were on the verge of blowing their 30-game lead to the Indians a couple three years back, for obvious reasons the team picked up ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ as their theme song. Which worked fine during tv time outs and such.

    After the Sox swept-ish thru the postseason the City held a parade and rally and of course a hundred thousand folks showed up for the celebration. And of course they had to play ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ to fire up the faithful.

    The crown went nuts when the opening keyboard riff played, then everybody kind of milled about because nobody knows any of the dumbass words to that song after the opening line. So they had to stand there stupid through two verses, the chorus, another verse, another chorus, and THE GUITAR SOLO before getting to the money shot sing-along…which of course the payoff is ‘Don’t Stop believing – streetlight people’ a couple three times…

    Talk about your rally killer.

    I just clocked it out, the sploooge limps in at 3:27 in a 4:06 song…

  8. diskojoe

    Mr. Mod, I do have one question,if I can make like Arlene Francis. Did you intake anything into your body that may have affected your perception when you watched that video. Or to put it bluntly, were you drunk and/or stoned? I’m just considering the facts that 1. You were 16. 2. It was a Saturday night & 3. It was 1979.

  9. Mr. Moderator

    Diskojoe, sadly, I was completely sober. Not that you asked, but I think this story tells you something about the lack of action I was getting at 16.

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