How I Miss Music Video Programs

Ever since music video programs took to the airwaves in the 1980s, I have always been a huge fan of the art form. Whether it was “Friday Night Videos”, “Video Hits”, “Good Rockin’ Tonite”, “MuchMusic” or “MusiquePlus”, I was glued to the set. Hour after hour I would watch, mesmerized by this cool art form combining music, film and storytelling in a tight package with a run time of about four minutes.

Through my late high school years and university years, music videos formed the soundtrack of my life, featuring artists like Duran Duran, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Bananarama, Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and the Jackson family. Music videos welcomed me home from school, were the focal point of some parties, helped keep me awake through late-night essays and helped me pace myself in studying for final exams.

When I got into the career years, priorities changed a little as did my ability to watch 12 consecutive hours of music videos. But I remained a fan nonetheless, often keeping the music channels on for background music while I cleaned my apartment or worked in the kitchen.

A few nights ago, I realized how much I missed music videos as a source of background music. I decided to try to recreate that feeling.

Since I got the iTunes app almost a decade ago, I have purchased a few music videos that were particularly special to me, but not enough to make a playlist as diverse as what a music video channel offered back in the day. Plus, iTunes doesn’t carry all of my old favourites.

YouTube on the other hand, carries almost everything I could possibly want, with only a few exceptions. Sadly, some treasured videos are hanging by a thread in cyberspace with only a couple of grainy versions to be found.

Last Friday, after I had gone to bed, I wondered if I could create a YouTube playlist of favourite videos. I got up and gave it a try. It couldn’t have been easier, but my timing was a mistake.

What started as a 5 minute experiment turned into a full scale project into the wee hours of the morning, building a playlist of favourite tunes based on the best quality versions available.

Thanks to my Apple TV, my YouTube playlists can follow me around, I just need to hook up the Apple TV device to an HDTV wherever I happen to be puttering (but not the old-style tube TV in the picture above).

Two days later and armed with 600 favourite songs grouped together in three playlists, I now have my own free music video channels, combining old favourites and brand new ones. I love it!

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen working on my food prep for the week, accompanied by favourite tunes and familiar faces, singing away the time over pulled pork, scalloped potatoes and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.

When working in the kitchen, I tend to avoid watching movies or new TV programs. It is difficult to keep track of an intricate plot as well as the distance between a knife and my fingers, so my full attention goes to the sharp instruments, as it should!

What I like best about music videos is that they are something with which I can multi-task and glance up every now and then, between steps in a recipe or between tasks, without breaking concentration and without seriously breaking the flow of the music. Much like a musical playlist I might use to go running, a music video playlist is another tool to keep me happy, engaged and in a good energy flow.

But as much as I feel huge gratitude for technology and being able to recreate the feeling of having a constant source of music videos, I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth… it was very close… but it wasn’t the same.

I miss (what some might consider) the chatter between the blocks of videos. I miss the video jockeys (VJs) and the hosts. I miss the music news, the interviews and the interesting facts about the artists, the songs and their creative process that have made me a contender in any game involving 1980’s music trivia.

While I could certainly Google factoids myself, I liked that the hosts brought information to me that I wouldn’t be inclined to research myself, about artists that might not have known enough to look into. In doing so, it just fed and heightened my curiosity about the industry, the many people behind it, and the creative forces that drove it.

In the creative world, I tend not to see boundaries between artists’ chosen media. Art is art, and all of it can be inspiring when a spirit is open to it. In some ways, knowing more about the music industry still lends itself to developing an understanding of the business side of writing. I am certain that there must be some common elements.

Plus, every four minute story carries with it the possibility of sowing seeds of inspiration for my own writing and creating threads I can weave into my own stories.

Even in the absence of the VJs and the music news, it is a “Thriller” to be “Hungry Like The Wolf” again and “Left to My Own Devices”, watching hours of music videos which feeds my “Constant Craving” for music. I “Just Can’t Get Enough”. With music videos, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, it’s a “Beautiful Life”, “Livin’ La Vida Loca”.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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When Art Takes Years to Complete

About 15 years ago, I was visiting the National Gallery of Canada, taking in the beauty of the permanent collection of artwork. As I was admiring the masterpieces, I was also examining the little cards next to them, taking note of the names of artists, the names of the artwork, the year the work was created and the backstory behind the masterpiece.

I noticed that some works did not have a single year next to them, but instead, a range of years like “1950-1952” was indicated, and I wondered to myself why would that be. For years after that, I kept wondering why it could take months or years to complete a work of art from beginning to end.

That was until I started blogging… then I completely got it!

In a perfect world, I could sit at my desk, write a blog post from beginning to end, proofread it and post it. In theory, it is a pretty simple process. But in reality, for me, that particular scenario might happen in 1 out of every 20 posts.

For the other 19, it is a process that takes time.

In the same way that visual artists need to sketch, that actors need to rehearse and that musicians need to jam, writers also require time to experiment with ideas to see what works. Continue reading

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Rekindling My Love for Classic Novels

This past summer, I was completely captivated by the PBS television program, “The Great American Read”.

The PBS Web Site describes the show as: “THE GREAT AMERICAN READ was an eight-part series that explored and celebrated the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). It investigated how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience.”

I am certain I am not the only reader who scanned each title on the list (…a few times!) to see how many I have read over the years.

I was most delighted at discovering that two of the titles on the list were part of my high school experience: “1984” by George Orwell (which I absolutely loved, especially since I read it in 1983) and “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier.

There were a few others that I had read later in life for the fun of it, like “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks and “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger.

And there were many stories for which I hadn’t read the books but I knew well from the cinematic versions, such as “To Kill a Mocking Bird”, “Gone With the Wind”, “The Help”, “The Great Gatsby”, and “The Color Purple”, to name a few.

I really enjoyed the PBS program because in each episode, teachers, authors and celebrities would speak about the books, offering their opinions as to what they enjoyed, what they got out of it and what resonated with them. Continue reading

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When a Favourite Product is Discontinued

Back in the 1980’s, when I used to work in retail, there was a customer who used to come in to the pharmacy regularly who was well known among team members. She was a little eccentric and she had what you might call a unique sense of fashion, but she was still very sweet and we were always happy to help her.

But we really got to know what she was made of when her world came crashing down at the news that her favourite shade of lipstick was discontinued.

As I understand it, she had her colours done back in the day and was told that this particular shade of orangey-red lipstick was the perfect shade for her. She obviously took this very much to heart as it seemed that every subsequent visit was punctuated by a question about her non-negotiable shade of lipstick.

I don’t think we ever knew her name, but through her relentless search, she became known to us as the “Orange Lipstick Lady.”

At first, she bought up all the remaining lipsticks in that shade. Then in the months that followed, she asked our head cosmetician to order some for her until the distributor couldn’t supply us with any more.

When she had tapped out our supply chain, she still came in at regular intervals to check EVERY lipstick on our shelves to make sure that there wasn’t one that was missed.

I’ll never forget that lady. And I often think I have turned into her when a company discontinues my favourite product… which seems to be happening regularly lately. Continue reading

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So What if I’m Not a Car Person?

my first car

A few days ago, I was walking through a shopping mall when I saw a shiny new car on display in the middle of the aisle. My gut went into panic mode for about half a second, but it was followed by a half second of relief when I reminded myself that I was not in “car shopping” mode anymore.

After many months of being on the lookout for a car, I still hadn’t fully shaken the sense of dread and pressure that I constantly felt throughout the information gathering phase. Fortunately, that was all behind me as I has recently signed and sealed a deal on a new car.

When people ask me what kind of car I drive, I often joke and say, “A blue one”, because that’s truly about as interested as I am in talking about cars.

It’s not like back in the 1970’s, while watching The Price is Right, this pre-teen could tell a car’s make, brand, model and actual retail price just from its grill, its hood ornament or its shape, long before the big doors finished opening.

Back then, compact cars, sports cars and luxury cars each had their unique style and you could quite easily tell them apart. But today, many cars look pretty similar to me, so it’s a little hard to get excited about them from the exterior.

Don’t get me wrong, throughout the shopping process, I reminded myself frequently to count my blessings over how fortunate I was to be in a position shop for a car. But when I went to pick up my new car, even my salesman noticed that I was unusually calm. Continue reading

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50 Reasons to Love Music

1- Music can pick up a listener’s mood when they’re feeling down.
2- Music can help a listener to relax when they’re feeling wound up.
3- Music can help set the mood for any activity.
4- In the morning, the right song can help set the pace for the whole day.
5- The right music can make traffic jams more bearable.
6- The right background music can make a movie a masterpiece.
7- A game show would not be as much fun if it didn’t have the right background music.
8- A horror movie would not be as enjoyable without the appropriate background music.
9- Music is a great conversation starter.
10- Music makes people want to move.
11- Music makes exercise more fun. Continue reading

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Cinema through the Eyes of a Writer

This past summer, when most of my television programs wrapped up for the season, I decided to replace my TV time with the simple pleasure of enjoying a big bowl of popcorn and catching up on my movie bucket list.

There have been times over the years when life got in the way of seeing everything I wanted to in the theatre, and I am OK with that. When I missed one, I usually said to myself, “It’s just a movie.”

But more recently, I have picked up a renewed interest not only in that list of missed movies but old classics as well.

At this point in my life, it’s a whole new ball game. In my 50’s, I know I have a greater sense of appreciation for the artistic effort behind any movie. I also bring to the table a greater ability to admire the masterpiece in its intricate detail.

Plus, in looking ahead to my next career as a writer, I have to admit that the appetite is there to go through as many movies as possible to see what common denominators come up that make a movie work. Continue reading

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