For those of you that remember the early days of MTV... for me, Autumn of 1982... you will recall the somewhat eccentric Peter Gabriel video for his hit single, "Shock the Monkey". In the video, Peter portrays a couple eccentric characters... one, a businessman who seems to be going insane, as well as a second character wearing a white suit, with white face paint.
It's difficult to say why this song and video struck such a chord with the Top 40 masses of 1982, but I would wager to say it had something to do with the video, and the fact that it surfaced in the infant days of a music video network that would soon control the world of popular music. In the early days of MTV, record labels were giving their promotional videos to the network, hoping that it would give the artists some much needed exposure. It's a little known fact that early MTV music videos were often "discards" that labels didn't much care about, with many label executives not even willing to put money into the medium. Fast forward a few months, when bands like Men at Work and Duran Duran were multi-Platinum selling artists, thanks to the revolutionary world of MTV.
Needless to say, as time progressed, record labels began to take great stock in the power of music videos, offering big budgets to their biggest stars, all in the name of trying to make a video better than the next guy,
As the video progressed, with most artists pushing the music video envelope... with dollar bills in their eyes, a line of coke on the mirror, and a scantily clad woman writhing around on the hood of a fancy car... there were a handful of artists that were trying to push the envelope for art's sake. One of these artists was Peter Gabriel.
As Peter Gabriel prepared the release of his 1986 classic, "SO", he began work an a series of groundbreaking music videos, featuring work done in "claymation". To this day, people will reference the music videos for the songs "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time", because of their overtly artistic and ground-breaking nature.
However, buried deep in the album was a song that would never rule the Top 40 radio airwaves. It was a song based on a poem by the 20th Century poet, Anne Sexton. The song I am referring to is "Mercy Street". This particular song is, hands down, my favorite Peter Gabriel song... as well as one of my favorite songs of all time. The video, which went unnoticed by most, is one of a purely artistic nature. It's shot on grainy black and white film and is one of the most beautiful videos I have ever seen.
Without further delay, why don't you do yourself the favor of spending a few minutes with one of the most beautiful videos...and songs... you will ever hear.