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!