Tuesday, August 01, 2006


So MTV is 25 years old today. I guess that’s impressive except the MTV that debuted in the summer of 1981 had already largely ceased to exist by the end of that decade. That is, by the late ‘80s the music channel was already moving away from music videos and into things that more resembled traditional television only hipper.

Right from the beginning of the MTV music video era, I’ve thought music videos to be great things, in theory at least. It seemed to me, back then especially, that putting video to the music was a great way to flesh out the artist vision. The reality has been far more disappointing but even bad videos at least offer the opportunity for sitting on the couch and making fun of them (see Bevis & Butthead, which by the way is another great MTV original program).

I don’t remember the first time I saw MTV but I think it was early 1985. When the music channel first appeared in 1981 neither the Carbondale cable system (where I was a college student) nor the one here in Springfield (where I often came for visits and school breaks) carried MTV for years. It was only while living in northern Illinois and then dating someone with cable did I have a chance to finally see MTV in all its glory during its prime. Prior to that, most of the music videos I saw were those on NBC’s Friday Night Videos program.

These days, I still often tune into music video channels through digital cable. My favorite being VH-1 Classic where I particularly like their The Alternative show. By the way, VH-1 Classic (channel 273 on Insight digital) today is re-running the entire first day of MTV from August 1, 1981. In recent weeks they’ve also been playing MTV’s original first hour of videos.

MTV ID (Moon Landing)

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