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 "I Wanna Be a Cowboy" by Boys Don't Cry. Released in 1985 as the first new single from their self-titled debut album, "I Wanna Be a Cowboy" became a surprising hit song in 1986 driving Boys Don’t Cry out of obscurity and on to the charts reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is described as a “spaghetti western of song” and took on a life of its own becoming a hip and kitschy cool (far from traditional) pop/dance track. Madonna even mentioned it as being her favorite new song that year. Profile Records hit the jackpot in 1986 with the success of this single as well as the success of Run-DMC’s Raising Hell album and their crossover hit cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” in the same year.
The spaghetti-western-style music video was directed by Carina Camamille who doesn't have any directing credits before or after, but does seem to have a producer credit for Howard Jones' "Things Can Only Get Better" music video from 1985. When Nick Richards, the band's frontman, came up with the idea for the song after he spent a night watching Clint Eastwood cowboy films such as For a Few Dollars More, so for the video he envisioned an Eastwood or Lee Van Cleef bad boy playing a part. He says that Lemmy Kilmister of English rock band Motörhead immediately came to mind (the two bands also had the same manager). Lemmy agreed to play the part as long as there was a bottle of Smirnoff vodka on set. The vodka was provided, and filming began at 6 a.m. on a freezing cold morning at Hampstead Heath in London. They succeeded at making a kitschy cool music video for a kitschy cool song.
Check out the music video for "I Wanna Be a Cowboy" by Boys Don't Cry...
I had the pleasure of an interview with Nick Richards from Boys Don't Cry and here's what he had to say about the music video for "I Wanna Be a Cowboy" and the impact of MTV... Actually, Martha Quinn, who is a great friend of mine now, told me that MTV hated the video as it was not rock n roll enough! But they had to play it due to massive demand. MTV was great in many ways, but the fact that you now had to make a video as well as a record was terrible for small labels like ours. Videos were so expensive and could be crippling to an indie label.
You can find out more about the band and creating this song in that interview.
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!