The country video era
Mike Sudhalter | August 13, 2007
Most music fans remember a song that explained a development in the last 25 years, "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles.
Ironically, the song's video was the first one to be aired when MTV debuted 26 years ago. I've noticed that most rock videos feature concert footage, as do a few country ones.
But I think the invention of videos hurt country more than rock. Country used to have so many story songs, like "El Paso" by Marty Robbins, that you have to use your imagination to picture the story.
And country artists in past years, like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Paycheck, were known for their music, instead of their looks. That's almost impossible in an era that puts the emphasis, in all genres, on appearence.
I brought up this topic to my father, who grew up with the music of the 1960's and 1970's. He admitted that he's probably watched a total of less than 20 music videos in his life.
Considering that young people traditionally account for the majority of record sales, a good chunk of the music-buying population doesn't remember the pre-video days. I turned 28 on Saturday, and I was 10 days short of my second birthday when MTV debuted.
And many young people now will rarely buy compact discs because online music offers gets to you immediately and requires less hardware. I still like having a CD case and the liner notes.
Someday when I have children, we'll sit around the fireplace and I'll tell the kids about the days of cassette players and how at a very young age, I even remember playing actual records.
It's interesting to think in the past quarter-century, we've gone from records to mp3s.