I want my U2

How many of you remember when MTV first came on air in the Tri state area. On August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., MTV: Music Television launched with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” spoken by John Lack.

Those words were immediately followed by the original MTV theme song, a crunching guitar riff written by Jonathan Elias and John Petersen, playing over a montage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

With the flag having a picture of MTVs logo on it. MTV producers Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert used this public domain footage as a conceit, associating MTV with the most famous moment in world television history.

Seibert said they had originally planned to use Neil Armstrong’s “One small step” quote, but lawyers said Armstrong owns his name and likeness, and Armstrong had refused, so the quote was replaced with a beeping sound.

At the moment of its launch, only a few thousand people on a single cable system in northern New Jersey could see it.

Appropriately, the first music video shown on MTV was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. The second video shown was Pat Benatar’s “You Better Run”. Sporadically, the screen would go black when an employee at MTV inserted a tape into a VCR.

Video of the launch of MTV was uploaded onto YouTube in 2009, with the original commercials, and the “black screens” between videos. The “MTV lettering” differed on its first day, and included record label information like year and label name.

As programming chief, Robert W. Pittman recruited and managed a team for the launch that included Tom Freston (who succeeded Pittman as CEO of MTV networks), Fred Seibert, John Sykes, Carolyn Baker (original head of talent and acquisition), Marshall Cohen (original head of research),Gail Sparrow (of talent and acquisition), Sue Steinberg (executive producer), Julian Goldberg, Steve Casey (creator of the name MTV and its first program director), Marcy Brafman, Ronald E. “Buzz” Brindle, and Robert Morton.

So what’s the point? Well it’s summer in North America, hot and getting hotter. Many of us have grown have a couple of kids, raising a family trying to make ends meet and yet we all when out and purchased tickets to see the boys. It was kind of a chance to go back to that happy time. Summer 1982 ! 

Now fast forward to December 1982, the band arrived in Sweden with director Meiert Avis to shoot a video for New Year’s Day, first single from the their third album ‘War’.

The song, which made its 360 debut in Dublin a few days ago, was inspired by Lech Walesa, the leader of Solidarity, the trade union in Poland which helped bring down communism.

‘Snow as an image of surrender,’ explained Bono, talking about the lyric. ‘And these little glimpses of narrative, which are really just excuses for the overarching theme, which was Lech Walesa being put in prison and his wife not being able to see him…’

Adam remembers the video: ‘We needed snow so the director suggested northern Sweden. It was very basic, us performing in the snow, just kind of wrapped up, so you couldn’t really see us. I think Bono sussed that to be in a video you had to look like yourself, so he wasn’t wearing wooly hats or anything. I don’t even think he was wearing thermal underwear, just the same clothes he had on when we got off the plane from Dublin.’

Edge: ‘Bono’s mouth almost froze solid; if you watch him lip-syncing his mouth won’t quite work. But the video has an epic quality, there was something about that song that seemed to conjure up images of Dr Zhivago and European winterscapes. People always ask me: ‘Was it difficult riding the horse, in the video?’ And I have to tell them that was shot the day after we left. Apparently the four figures on horseback were all women, dressed similarly to ourselves.’

So there you go…. a random U2 connection from Sweden to Poland. (Maybe you can think of a better one…)