Friday, October 26, 2007

Where have all the cowboys gone?

Sure, I talk music here on Fridays and much like the question about a tree falling in the forest, what would happen if nobody heard it? Truth be told, I don't really care. It was a goal of mine as the year began to stick it out and challenge myself to be confined to one topic on a schedule and so it continues.

Back in the day (the day being 2000) I used to subscribe to the newly-minted digital cable (remember, I lived in rural southern Minnesota, SPAMTown USA to be specific). It was something new and I picked it up cheap as a new subscriber. It featured channels such as IFC, Sundance and, my favorite, MTV2. But the story starts long before this time.

I was first exposed to M2 (as it was originally known) in high school during an assignment for my independent study class. I was asked to scan the satellites (the school had one of those enormous 8 foot relics) and catalog the channels I came across. Sure, it was busy work for a do-nothing type class but I was curious and forged ahead with it.

As I came across the still-new M2, I took notice. I loved music then as much as I still do and actively sought out anything new and different that wasn't being force-fed to us southern Minnesota high schoolers. As I graded papers and worked on other projects in the teacher's office, I had my new friend -- M2 -- on in the background. I'd glance up if something tweaked my ears and I found plenty of new and different music through that channel.

Little did I know that we would be reunited in 2000 as I became a digital cable subscriber. MTV2 was a novelty -- they played music videos and for a rural area, it was a fantastic way to discover new tunes. Sure, it was during the heyday of Napster but MTV2 was a passive way of discovery and that channel spurred me to buy even more CDs.

Soon, though, my introductory offer and its relatively cheap price expired. I parted ways after a year with my new old friend. Sure, we were reunited some time later but, as friendships do, my friend had changed. Hip-hop was now dominating the revamped channel. We began to drift apart.

The rift continued as I moved away from the city which gave me my first taste of digital cable as well as MTV2. I cut costs and for the two years that I was a suburban apartment dweller, I did without cable all together. The apartment complex I called home, though, had a rooftop antenna which picked all of the Twin Cities stations including, wait for it, MTV2 which was on a former outlet of "The Box" music video channel.

I watched it from time to time and saw just how much further it had declined. My old friend, it seemed, had fallen in with a bad crowd. A crowd that worshiped hip-hop and seemed to be distancing itself from the 'person' it had once been.

I was glad to move again. This time we ponied up for cable but seeing what had become of my old friend, MTV2, the digital tier wasn't worth the extra cost. We watched, though, as my old friend reinvented itself once again during halftime of the Superbowl a couple years back. It was sad to see the my old friend had lost its core values. Gone was its trusty and once innovative foundation of music videos not seen on its big brother's airwaves.

In their place were 'lifestyle' shows geared towards young males, recycled materials from the channel's big brother and it seemed obvious that the younger sibling would follow in the footsteps of the elder MTV.

As I perused the Wikipedia article, it seemed that I was correct. Maybe I ought to trade in the insanely expensive software package I earn my living with and get myself a crystal ball.

At least there are a few memories which I shared with you in the above video and the following one -- one of my favorite songs from the past decade.


The Future Was Yesterday said...

I've always loved music. I'm from the Connie Francis "A Thousand Stars In The Sky" Era. I've never tried digital cable, as we never watched that much: maybe a couple favorite shows a week, and my sports, and that was it. Now that they have commercials ten minutes long, every three minutes, I record everything on here (TV card), then we watch the show. Saves a LOT of time.

This hip hop stuff seems to be proliferating everything right now. I don't know for sure just what that horrible stuff is, but I know one thing for a fact: It sure as hell isn't music!!

Jocelyn said...

If living in SPAMtown only caused you to turn to M2, then you got off easy.

I had to turn to harder stuff--yea, like whiskey and such--when I lived there.

bigrig said...

I've always liked Tears for Fears. Does any MTV channel ever still just play videos randomly, hosted by a VJ, like you might hear on the radio?

betmo said...

i skipped the 1990's as far as music goes- i am still stuck in the 1980's and back. i have no idea who your polyester bride is. i don't do the dissonant alternative stuff and i don't do hip hop- so that pretty much let's me out of pretty much everything after 1990.

justacoolcat said...

You should join up with the Friday Random Ten on my site. There's a lot of good music.