A couple of months ago I wrote a piece about how movie music was the MTV of my day, but it wasn’t until I recently read something about MTV itself turning 25 that my nostalgia bone was tickled. (It resides right next to my funny bone, but is sometimes a little tougher to activate.)
25 years ago my kids (a teen and a pre-teen) were the ideal audience for MTV, and luckily for them the one-horse cable TV outfit in our small town eventually found a way to bring the new channel into every home. Not so fortunate for me though, because I found myself turning into the world’s youngest curmudgeon for the simple reason that the TV got stuck on that channel number — or at least it seemed that way. Every time I’d leave the room it would mysteriously revert to MTV, and usually at a louder volume.
Through the years, I grumbled and the kids wheedled, and MTV seemed to grow stronger and stronger. Eventually my son left for college and my daughter was left alone to fight the grouchy anti-MTV monster living in the house. (Actually, I used to be more often called the Cookie Monster, named after the character on Sesame Street because of my fondness for…but that’s another story.)
Of course, my daughter wasn’t afraid of this particular ogre, recognizing that he was actually pretty harmless, and she watched MTV whenever she darn well wanted to. As the years continued to pass, gradually things began to change. I don’t know if the music softened or I just got more used to it, but I began to find myself objecting to it less frequently, and – heaven forbid – even enjoying it. Of course, I would never have admitted that, but I have a feeling my daughter probably knew it.
There were a number of videos that appealed to me, but the one that sticks in my mind the most was playing frequently about fifteen years ago, while my daughter was in college and still living at home. I’m sure she wasn’t quite as attuned to MTV by then, but in a strange twist of events, her Dad was — and I think I watched Natalie Cole singing “Unforgettable” with the ghost of her Dad about a zillion times. Of course, it was my kind of music, but there was also the sentiment of the whole thing — and even if the feeling persisted that there was some manipulation taking place, it still made me a little misty to watch the two of them.
Nat died when Natalie was a teenager, and although she forged a solid singing career of her own for a number of years, she went through some tough times in her personal life. (If you go to the music Wiki, you can read all about Nat and/or Natalie.) She had many, many problems, and through it all she resisted the temptation to record her Father’s songs because she wanted to succeed with her own music and also because it was too painful for her.
By 1991 she was ready, and she brought out her album Unforgettable…with Love. It featured many of Nat’s hits and was a smash, not only ringing up huge sales but also winning for her several Grammys – including Record Of The Year – and paving the way for her subsequent albums of old standards. The song that drew the most attention on the album was the title track, a virtual duet with Nat that was the basis for the video I saw again and again on MTV, and it’s still one of my favorite songs of all time.