Videos We’re Watching, New and New-ish

Music videos still exist, but they’re less precious when you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want, rather than waiting all week for Friday Night Videos. On the other hand, you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want, and you can watch it over and over again, and text it to your friends. Here are the best videos on YouTube that =we’ve been watching, over and over again, and texting to our friends.

“Now and Then” – The Beatles

Decades and decades in the making; in the 1970s, John Lennon recorded a rough germ of an idea for a song on a cassette tape, singing and accompanying himself (not well) on piano; in the 1980s, the then-surviving Beatles tried without luck to make something of it, but the cassette was too worn out and the piano unusable. Forty years later, technology allowed Lennon’s 1970s voice to be isolated from the piano, harmonized with the 1980s Beatles, and then completed, lavishly, by the now-surviving Beatles. The song is beautiful, and the layered meaning is moving (Lennon longs for some unnamed person; the backup singers long for him). What will really get you crying is the video, in which Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr perform alongside young versions of Lennon and George Harrison, and the 1960s Lennon jokingly faux-conducts the string section. Boy, do we miss him. Every day since December 8, 1980, has been, mostly, a day without John Lennon. Still, this song is really a McCartney production, with Lennon’s edge and some of his edgier lyrics sanded off, a lavishly orchestrated silly love song by (and about) a man who would probably have hated it.

“Alice” – David Christman

A lovely ‘80s and ‘90s-infused love song, with a bit of Joe Jackson and the Beatles. Songwriter Christman, formerly of Delroy Rebop, also covers guitar and ukulele, with backing vocals and bass from fellow Delroy-alum Fred Pratt and keyboards by Tony Conniff (who produced). The song’s title character, says Christman, is “a kind of quirky person who comes into the singer’s life unexpectedly and makes him see the world in a slightly different way.” Alice is a woman, the lyrics tell us, who “kept a list of items/from a lost and found/a pennywhistle/two ties/she read it out loud/like text from Deuteronomy/and every word seemed to sound.” The video is a pretty, seamless pastiche of images selected by Christman’s wife, Pamela Christman. Like many musicians, Christman somehow wound up working as a lawyer, and after decades of stints at some big firms and big corporations (some of the best in the world, one should mention), he found himself retired. “Pretty soon I was writing regularly and recording little demos,” he says. “A year or so back, I realized I had written something like a hundred songs and I decided to make some proper recordings of a group of them. ‘Alice’ is the first song that was released from those sessions.” There’s something nice about a lawyer returning to music, especially for a homemade project that, like this one, turns out just right.

“Training that Works” – Carbonworks

A beautiful, unearthed relic from the very early 1980s, originally recorded by Bob Gray for the DC band, Pop Maru, but not included on their one LP. Some of us have known and loved this song for years; what a surprise to see this re-recorded version included earlier this year, along with another unreleased Pop Maru track, on Carbonworks’ great new album, “Vanishing Act”. (Carbonworks is a brainchild of another Pop Maru alum, Neil Barnard.) The lavishly animated video matches the song’s tale of hilariously dreary 1980s workplace ennui perfectly. Work sucks now, too, so the song still resonates.

“Back on 74” – Jungle

Other choices in this column skew a little older. This doesn’t; it’s pretty obscure, if you are over the age of 50. Kids we know love the choreography in this video, which looks Fosse-inspired but supposedly isn’t (Michael Jackson is their muse). If you are under 50 you’ve seen it; if you are over 50, you should take a look. This video has inspired a Tik-Tok obsession, and it is just the first of many. It’s too bad there’s no more dancing in MGM musicals, but until they come back, you can watch this. Swirling, flawless cinematography, elaborate but simple production, and it’s all one shot. (Not one of those fake one-shots, either.)


Content by Oblivioni. Image by Donald Tong / Pexels

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