Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another.
This issue we will cover "Got My Mind Set On You" by George Harrison. Many do not know this is actually a cover of a 1962 song originally recorded by James Ray. Of Harrison's three #1 singles in the U.S. as a solo artist, it was the only one not written or composed by Harrison himself. "Got My Mind Set On You" was released in October of 1987, hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January of 1988 (making it the most recent solo #1 single by one of the former Beatles) and would go on to rank #3 on Billboard's year end chart for 1988. It would reach #1 in four other countries and reach the Top 10 in 12 more making it an international success for Harrison.
Many people feel the song just repeats "I got my mind set on you" over and over. The song actually only repeats that lyric 14 times (though it also says "set on you" several times towards the very end as well). Yes, it is a bit repetitive, but I believe the fun music video created for it helped generate its popularity while introducing the former Beatle to a new generation. There were actually two music videos created for "Got My Mind Set On You". Warner Bros. was not happy with the first version, so they wisely asked director Gary Weis to get a little more creative and that resulted in the version that most of us are more familiar with. This video received heavy airplay on MTV and would be nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year. Here is the music video for "Got My Mind Set On You" by George Harrison...
For most of the video, Harrison just sits in his chair with a very stoic look on his face playing his guitar and singing his song. As the song progresses the room décor (even the taxidermy) begins to sing and dance along. I had the pleasure of an interview with director Gary Weis, who created some of the very popular music videos of the decade including "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon and "Walk Like an Egyptian" by The Bangles. When I asked Weis about these special effects that John McCallum helped coordinate he told me, "Those effects were created very manually. We had the entire crew and even all of the P.A.s pulling wires and doing their parts to make each item move along to the music." Another fun part of the video is about half-way through when Harrison hops up on the chair does a back flip and a little dance before plopping back down into the chair and continuing the song. Here is a portion of what Weis told me about that particular sequence:
I had a stunt double do the back flip obviously. Then I edited it to make it really look like George did it. George saw it and said, "Gees, I can't have people thinking I can do that." So, I went back and re-cut it with a little jump in it that made it intentionally obvious that it was not George doing the flip or dance. This allowed everybody to be in on the joke. I can tell you that George had a really good time making our silly little video.
It all served to make an interesting and memorable music video that you might not have expected from the former Beatle, but the '80s gave it to you anyway. Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!