TRAUMAFESSIONS :: Reader Walt on “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes

i can see tomorrow
Editor’s Note: After disclosing the death of a pet and dissecting the more disturbing elements of MR. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD, KINDERTRAUMA’s most prolific confessor goes on record about not necessarily wanting his MTV…

    Here’s a video from my youth that scared the hell out of me. My trauma started with an innocent night at my grandmother’s house to bake Christmas cookies. After eating handfuls of raw dough, I knew I was in for a rough night. As I laid on the couch, bellyaching and moments from praying to the porcelain god, I put the TV on to distract my young mind. In what I thought was luck at the time, my grandmother had cable and MTV, so I innocently put some music videos on. Then… Yes came on with the video for “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and taught me what anxiety was.

    Let’s look at what we have in this video. For some reason the members of the group turn into animals – and of course Jon Anderson gets to be the cool bird of prey, and some poor schmuck turns into a kitty cat… Oooh! So far so good. A little trippy and fantasy-based, but OK. Then it turns black and white, and to an 11 year-old, black and white could only mean one thing, what’s coming up next is going suck.

    So this anonymous guy is walking on a busy sidewalk, looking like he just stepped out of a GUY RITCHIE movie, and these suits come out of the crowd and drag him to some official-looking building and cut the long line of people waiting for who-knows-what. Then the freaky shit happens.

    There’s a quick jump of a snake wrapped around this guy’s neck in the shower, in color! (Hey, color is supposed to be my friend). He’s visibly shaken by this, and so was I. The cut along with the synth tie-in can scare the crap out of you.

    So I calmed down again. There’s some bureaucratic-looking BS, a screaming baby and some pissed people probably ’cause he cut the line. Then, as he is ushered through an aisle of typewriters, we’re assaulted by more color images of this poor guy getting visited by members of Yes, in their animal form; a hawk in the bed, some kind of lizard, a tarantula and a scorpion (who are these guys, studio musicians?) and the SCARY cat!

    Then, as this guy is having spasms with these flashbacks, comes a scene that reminds me of what I call the “fried-chicken-eating-incident” from POLTERGEIST, he washes his face with worms and maggots. By this time, chocolate chip cookie dough is knocking on my tonsils. And since cable at this time was controlled by a “clicker-box” that sat on top of the TV set, I’d have to get up to change the channel. So I wait it out.

    This poor guy is brought to some kind of trial that looks like it is out of an old Calvin Klein Obsession ad, and freaks out. More flashbacks of When Animals Attack (stop with the damn maggots already!) and one shot of a naked woman in bed (Hmm?). Finally the suits drop this guy into an “evil” elevator that leads our black and white adventure into a nihilistic color OZ, filled with power tools, welding guns and man I’d like to call “Papa Bruno” who deems it necessary to try to beat the living piss out of our poor unsuspecting friend.

    This guy is stronger than I thought, beats up grandpa and escapes. For some reason, he climbs many stories to the top of a building (is this really the safest place he can think of?) and the members of Yes, magically appear, well dressed with murder on their minds. Apparently their only form of movement as humans is through stop-motion photography, and frame-by-frame they surround him.

    The video once again correlates the animal/human forms of Yes (just in case you missed it two minutes ago) which causes this guy (and an 11 year-old, sitting with a bad stomach on a couch in the middle of the night in NJ) to go completely insane, jump off the roof and turn into a badly stuffed dummy… oh, I mean a bird (I did not jump off the roof, though). Huh?

    Then for no reason I can figure, we end right back where we started, but this time in color, and our protagonist decides to turn around and thoroughly confuse anyone watching.

    So there I was, subjected to a trauma-inducing video while I was ready to hurl. But I made it through. I didn’t literally toss my cookies. There’s no way MTV can get me now. I’m safe. And then THRILLER came on… bleeeeeeechhhhh!

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    14 years ago

    Wow, I hear you, man. Some of those early MTV videos were especial traumatizers. I remember the “Mexican Radio” thing where the guy’s head comes out of a pot of beans (freaky) and the “Our Love’s in Jeopardy” bit of body horror where he imagines this couple joined grotesquely at the hands, like something out of a David Cronenberg Valentine! At least now it’s all booty-shakin’ and rockin’ out…but I kind of pine for a return to mindfck videos in prime time!

    Is that wrong?

    14 years ago

    Here, here for mindfck videos in prime time! The only 80s MTV video I can recall freaking me out was Herbie Hancock’s Rockit, all those bizarre machines with human legs walking around, the papier-mache birds with animated beaks, the surreal mannequins with light bulbs as heads, the pale, demented baby towards the end…It all seems funny now but back then it was creepy indeed.

    13 years ago

    Ah!  This was my most anticipated album release during my high school years!  I got into them around 1982 & I was thrilled when they reformed.  When this video and album,”90125″ came out I was a bit shocked.  Where’s the Roger Dean cover?  Who is this Trevor Rabin guy?  Biggest question: “Why are they doing this “1984”-ish looking video directed by some guy from Hipgnosis?  (MY English class had us reading that book at that time BTW!) Er, didn’t they make two crappy album covers for Yes in the late 70’s?  Why is the guy having these “flashbacks” if himself either with a snake around his neck or lying in bed with maggots on his face? (If you look closely at that segement you can see the protective pieces of cork that were shoved up his nose!)  Yep, very disturbing!  No more “Mountains coming out of the sky”!  Let’s do disturbing Pink Floyd-ish videos!  OK, I did get over it as I was glad to have them back!  Still………maggots on the face!  Not as creepy though as the “It Can Happen” video: Trevor Rabin with heavy makeup that made him look like Freddy Mercury!! BTW, those animal images may have been done to represent past Yes album images.  The eagle was mentioned in the song “Roundabout”, the snake from the “Relayer” album cover and the black cat was from the “Drama” cover.  Rabin’s lizard is still unknown to me.  The fifth man, Eddie Jobson, didn’t get an animal as he was temporarily filling in for an MIA Tony Kaye.