Saturday, March 2, 2019

Classic MTV Videos (Jackson Browne "Lawyers In Love")

I've recently had 1983 on the brain. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the dread I feel about the state of the world hasn't been this intense for me since I was an eight year old and learned of the possibility of nuclear war. We are also a year away from an election that the incumbent president could use to cement his harmful hold on the government. Back in 1983 I am sure a lot of folks thought Reagan was vulnerable, especially as his popularity tanked in the years of recession that marked his early reign. Lots of folks feel like defeating Trump in 2020 will be a cakewalk, but the lessons of the past should be on our minds.

In that similar early 80s time of dread and political backlash, Jackson Browne put out an album curiously titled Lawyers In Love with a cover that suggested a post-apocalyptic scene. It simultaneously spoke to the fears of nuclear war and the rise of yuppie culture in the 1980s. The video for the title track is in the low-rent style of early MTV, with obvious back projection, high school AV club special effects, and that grainy overripe glow of early video film stock. The images are surreal, from children space aliens to a besuited yuppie trying to row his Mercedes through water to stock footage of Soviet tourism films.

The whole time the main character, played by Browne, stays glued to the television. Like the rest of us, he is at the mercy of forces well beyond his control, numbed into passivity. There is an oddball melancholy to both the song and the video that seems pretty appropriate for our times. The music has high pitched organ and reverb guitar noises reminiscent of surf music with a kind of chugging 80s beat below it and the occasional yodel coming over the top. It's on a playlist I have been listening to a lot at night, when my worried thoughts get the best of me sometimes. It also makes me wonder if I too have become numb to how awful the current situation is. At least the video gives me a laugh.

No comments: