My late sister and I were from an early age obsessed with music. This was in no little part due to our parents who’s tastes ranged quite widely from classical to disco, a family friend who was a studio musician (who played on the ever well known song Wipe Out by the Surfaris) and our paternal grandparents who scoured auction sales every week for antiques and old records. At one point, my mother had to cull our over four hundred and fifty 45s down to a more manageable number which we had back to our preferred unmanageable size within a year. We loved music. (I still do.)
When our parents split, my father’s first attempt at “separated parent bribery” was a brand new Sony Walkman. I promptly went out and purchased five new cassettes and a series of blanks to copy my favorite records onto. I entered a world of solitary musical bliss, fixating primarily on krautrock, Australian pop and electronica. My sister went the way of albums, hiding in her room drowning out the world with Duran Duran and assorted other pop until years later when she devolved into 70s rock. (Bleck.)
Throughout high school, as our parents were now divorced, we split our time between two homes. Both had cable but as we lived in Canada, well, small city Canada, we had no access to certain specialty American channels. We would travel down to a place called “Dolan’s Discotheque” (later “Dolan’s Landing”) at lunches and on weekend and watch what in April 1981 became our visual and aural mecca, MTV. Martha Quinn was my fantasy girlfriend. My sister like Mark because Alan Hunter was too much like me. Nina Blackwood was someone we both disliked for no good reason at all. JJ, well, he was the old guy. To much like our dad (a blacker version) for comfort.
Years later, in 1984, August to be exact, we sat on the edge of our mothers couch waiting patiently until the Canadian version, a superior version, of music television arrived. Because of MuchMusic we lost interest in MTV. (Okay, a complete lie, I never lost interest in Martha Quinn, but still, we were constant viewers and the joy that was MTV, the glorious few years where we could engross ourselves for hours at a time in a wide swath of music were, are, never forgotten.)
As a (happy) subscriber of Sirius XM of a certain middle age, I am hooked on a few specific channels. 80’s on 8 is one. I gleefully listen to what sometimes is embarrassingly bad music from MY decade. When I heard Alan Hunter announce that there was a new book being released
I was intrigued. I waited and read reviews and finally picked up a copy a few weeks back. Expecting a happy go lucky tome of tales of rock star fun and debauchery, I was surprised to find myself actually saddened at the way each of the five first VJs were treated by the corporation that started music TV. I found in this book fun, humour, poignant tales and sadness. It was at times uplifting and others crushingly devoid of Martha’s smile. I expected a throwaway pop song and got the best, meaningful REM ballad I could imagine.
Highly recommended for anyone who wanted their MTV and finds it a mere ghost in their memories.
Lets just hope someone writes a MuchMusic book some day soon.
Music Television just doesn’t exist the way it did anymore (sigh)