Can you believe that MTV launched on this date in 1981—a mere 37 years ago???
I kept going back and redoing the math on that, because it just doesn’t seem possible. I can’t remember exactly when MTV arrived at my house. I know we had cable at some point, and I remember watching MTV for hours and hours. I just don’t know when we finally got it, although I’m sure it was before Live Aid in 1985. What I do remember is that my friend Marsha had it as soon as it became available to residents in Covina, California. I began spending many hours of my day planted in front of her TV as a result. (Thanks Mrs. W!!)
My musical tastes were formed by two things: playing clarinet, and MTV. As a clarinet student, I learned far more about classical music than I ever thought possible. In the years before MTV, I knew more about classical composers than I did contemporary 1980’s-era artists on the radio. By then, I’d cultivated a deep appreciation for Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart, along with many others. That list is long, my friends. Benny Goodman was and still is my hero and spirit animal, right alongside Pete Fountain and Artie Shaw. On the other hand, I really didn’t know much about pop music. I discovered a local radio station – KROQ – before MTV came along, but once the videos got started, there was no stopping me. I relished every single video that came on the screen, along with juicy bits of music news and background information that VJ’s such as Martha Quinn and JJ Jackson diligently doled out in between.
I cut my New Wave and Alternative teeth on artists like Wall of Voodoo, Burning Sensations, The Motels, The Fixx, Visage, Soft Cell, Joy Division—I could go on and on and on, and you’d likely know every band and artist.
It blows my mind that this all began 37 years ago. Can it really be possible? Sadly, I know it is. Life goes by in the blink of an eye.
I wouldn’t mind sitting down in front of the TV to watch an MTV video marathon direct from 1981, even if only for a day. It is a shame we can’t step back in time, for even just one moment. The innocence of youth, hope for what the future might hold, and seemingly limitless energy all seem very appealing right now.
Yep, I’d take a little more of all that today.