A video from the days before videos

This was brought to my attention this afternoon via iTunes. I’d never seen it before, so I share it with you. (iTunes didn’t provide me with a way to embed it; but fortunately I quickly found it at YouTube.)

My memory is that the first thing I recall seeing that was anything like a “music video,” defined as what we came to know and love in the early ’80s (an art form that sadly faded as MTV turned to other, far less appealing kinds of programming) was the one that John Lennon used to promote “Imagine” during his appearance on the Dick Cavett Show — the day before I ran out and bought the album.

Of course, we could count the manic musical sequences in Richard Lester’s “A Hard Days Night,” but those were not intended to stand alone.

And now that we have YouTube, all sorts of old clips have been pared to old music, or forgotten television appearances revived, to create sort of after-the-fact music videos.

I don’t pretend to know where it started. But real Beatles fans should enjoy this one. Even though it’s got Yoko in it.

10 thoughts on “A video from the days before videos

  1. `Kathryn Fenner

    Peter Tork actually played an instrument (the French horn) before becoming a Monkee, unlike the others. Nesmith became the best instrumentalist, though–I have some of his solo albums, and he writes a good song (Linda Ronstadt’s Different Drum and Shelly’s Blues are his). Nesmith also became the most successful in the music business–he produced a lot of stuff. His mother invented Wite Out, btw. Y’all remember Wite Out–the analog version of the delete key?

  2. Scout

    The wierd little films they made for Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane should pre-date this – they may be more of the first true videos in the sense they were made as a thing unto themselves specifically for those songs. This may have been too (not sure what this is). I think that must be Martha the English Sheepdog of Martha, My Dear fame in there too.

  3. Brad

    OK, I looked at them, and I see they are more stand-alone. But were they included in the Magical Mystery Tour film anyway? I only saw it once, so I don’t remember.

  4. Scout

    Actually I don’t think they were – I’m getting this from wikipedia though – I think I only saw it once also. It was just a little too weird to watch again.

    But according to wikipedia, they put the songs on the American version of the album – but they weren’t actually in the film. The film had 6 songs, which were released as a film soundtrack that was EP length in England, but in the US, they added the singles from 1967 that were just songs and not in the film to make the soundtrack be LP length.

  5. Brad

    You must have tried to watch it straight. I think that was my mistake.

    I remain curious to see something based on the thousands of feet of film taken of the Merry Prankster’s trip across America. Seems like a good editor could make something watchable out of it. If enough of it exists.

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