Sean Rose likes Music Videos: a column by Sean Rose

Hi again everyone. It is me, Sean, here to once again talk to you about a music video. This week, we're gonna talk about the video for "She's Gone" by Hall & Oates.

Oh boy.

"She's Gone" was one of Hall & Oates' earliest hits, originally released as a single in 1974. It's a catchy, sweet, soulful little tune, the kind of solid work you'd expect from these two handsome hooksmiths. Nothing too out of the ordinary!

But then you watch the video, and... oooh whoo hoo baby. Oh man oh man. I know I do this a lot, but I'm going to ask you to sit down and watch this entire video front to back before you keep reading. Watch the whole thing and do not miss a SECOND. Keep your eyes glued to the screen, and do NOT look away.

Did you watch it all? It's ok. You did. I know you did

I know you watched it front to back, because it is impossible not to. The moment you hit play, you can't look away. It is a physical, universal impossibilitiy. This video is pure hypnotism. It will lull you into its world and never let you go. Ever.

For now, I will let the contents of the video speak for itself. You've seen it, I've seen it, the world is beautiful and exciting. How about a little context!

The video for "She's Gone" was produced at a time where "music videos" as we know them today were not popular. This was 1974, pre-MTV of course. The idea of a video being used as a promotional tool for a band's new single: nonexistent at the time. There was no outlet for videos! No 24 hour channel that would play them all the time!

So in these dark days, music videos were made for primarily two reasons: 1) artistic ambition (rare), or 2) to let bands skip out of making a TV appearance. Because why bother schlepping all the way to some TV studio in LA when you could just send them some shitty video of yourself lip-synching to your current hit while you lounge around in your fuckin rock star Hilton hotel bed? Genius. Like, what are they going to do, not play it??

Well, gosh. They might not! At least that's what happened with "She's Gone."

"She's Gone," to me, feels like the archetypal pre-MTV promotional video: it's cheap, it's super weird, the singers on camera barely attempt to lip-sync, the song's lyrics are taken literally (yes, Hall & Oates are throwing Monopoly money at a man dressed like the devil for "I'd pay the devil to replace her"), the set is haphazardly dressed and barely there, and... gosh, gosh golly gosh. It's a weirdo home movie shot in a basement. Hall & Oates may have not been as a huge name in pop in 1974 as they would later in their career, but it's still strange to imagine a group of their statue releasing a video like this. To the public! With the intent of people seeing it!

But that's the thing, see. Nobody did see it. According to this recent interview with John Oates (which you should definitely read), Mr. Oates reveals that the "She's Gone" video was deemed too bizarre for broadcast and never aired, so he leaked the clip to the internet himself thinking that people should see it. Good God, was he CORRECT. You are a beautiful man, Mr. Oates.

But see, even if "She's Gone" had aired, it would only have aired once on some local dance show in Atlantic City. The hallmark of pre-MTV music videos - and part of the reason they're so fascinating to me - is their utter, intentional disposability. These were not videos designed to be replayed on MTV over and over and over again. They were made quick & dirty, meant to be played once and never ever played again. Or heck, to never be played at all! Such was the case with "She's Gone." You can tell that nobody involved thought that this thing would be seen by anybody, anywhere in the world. But now here we are, in 2013, and it's still here!

That's all part of the charm, of course. I love these old ramshackle, thrown together music videos that make no sense, and "She's Gone" might be the best one out there. Watch it again. Daryl and John just... sit there. John puts on his best face and soldiers on, but Daryl looks like a mummifiel snow angel. It's not even that he looks bored - more like he's living in another world that none of us can see. He's a shining poofhaired idol in an empire of his own creation. He is beyond this video and all of the known universe. He is an Ascended One, and we should all bow to his glory.

And they look so young! Gosh! They were babies! Daryl Hall was like 27! Unbelieveable. Cherish what's good before it's gone, my friends.

"She's Gone" is a triumph of lazy simplicity. It's slow, it's uncomfortable, it doesn't fit its song particularly well, and it has John Oates jammin out a blazing guitar solo while wearing a tuxedo jacket with what look like flippers taped to its sleeves. In other words: perfect.

-Sean Rose