The beginning of the 1990s was a very different time. It was a time when a Canadian folk/country/rockish band maintained a hope that they might somehow put a hit song out there that, buoyed by the strict Canadian content regulations and maybe like some expatriate DJ in Buffalo or Spokane or something, might end up actually getting some airplay in the States. Tom Cochrane did it, as did the Crash Test Dummies.
Blue Rodeo? Well, Blue Rodeo, bless their hearts, they tried. "Til I Am Myself Again", their biggest hit off of 1990's Casino (ed. note: not the movie soundtrack), did hit #37 on U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks, whatever that is.
Anyway, in order to get your music out there, if you had a few extra loonies and $2 bills (this was 1990, after all - learn your Canadian numismatic history), you put together a video to show on MuchMusic, Canada's equivalent of MTV, in that neither of them show music videos anymore.
Anyway, Blue Rodeo pooled their members and had $37.40, which they used to make this 4:06 of magic. Let's watch:
0:00-0:07 - This handsome fella sporting the leather jacket and acid wash jeans is lead singer Jim Cuddy. I know that his getup looks ridiculous now, but bear in mind, this video was shot in 1990, and it looked ridiculous then too.
0:08-0:11 - A brief shot of the rest of the band. They are inconsequential to the video, as you'll see.
0:12-0:16 - It shouldn't surprise you at this point that all Canadian music videos are filmed on semi-complete construction sites.
0:17-0:18 - What the hell? I know that this is a Canadian video, but why is Snow in it?
0:19-0:21 - Well, I guess Snow and his band are the world's shittiest bar band, playing in a shitty bar, which is shittily named "Casino". Yes, I know it's the name of the album, but maybe, you know, the video could be set in an actual casino? Or maybe have some people playing poker in the shot? Or gin rummy?
0:22-0:25 - "Jim Cuddy IS Ted Stryker in 'Airplane 3: Take Off, Eh?'!"
0:26-0:41 - "Uh, guys, we reviewed the footage, and, well, we only took like 35 seconds of video at the bar. Stand there and play some more. You're not getting overtime."
0:42 - Oh, so just random birds are flying through the shot now?
0:43-0:48 - Holy shit, these guys look Canadian. I just can't deny it.
0:49-0:50 - Uh, so I guess the birds are there on purpose? Why are they being released? Who is releasing them? What does this have to do with the song?
0:51-1:04 - Well, you can really see how the birds fit into the director's vision for this video now. They kind of haphazardly fly around and land randomly on the stage, or bunch of girders, or whatever these guys are playing on, then sort of get in the way of everyone for a bit. The bassist tries to stifle a laugh at how stupid this is. A bird lands on Jim Cuddy's arm. They share a moment. The bird shits.
1:05-1:13 - Well, if the birds were symbolic of something or other, this part of the video is a literal depiction of the song's lyrics. Jim Cuddy drowns his sorrows with flat water. Jim Cuddy is a man of the people, dammit!
1:14-1:16 - A young-ish looking woman wears he great-aunt's glasses. She is never seen from again.
1:17-1:19 - Man, Snow looks menacing here. INFOOORRRRMA YE NOSE IS UDDA US LONELY I GO BLAM
1:20-1:33 - Basically all of the nonsensical action of the video is contained in these 13 seconds of quick cuts. Let's try to follow:
- Santa assaults David Crosby;
- A bemused old man looks bemused at the spectacle of it all. He's seen this before, and it's numbed him, man;
- Santa and David Crosby raise their fists at each other. The choppy video symbolizes choppiness;
- A Neo-Nazi chews gum;
- Snow disapproves;
- A pedophile climaxes;
- Fat Bill Hader looks on knowlingly;
- Jim Cuddy realizes he just can't drink a WHOLE glass of water, guys, he's D.D. tonight, and it would really be an inconvenience if he had to stop and pee on the way home;
- An artsy shot into the bottom of the glass to demonstrate Canada's first camcorder with zoom function.
1:34-1:43 - Aaaaaand, we're back to Literal Interpretation Of The Lyrics Theatre. Someone falls off a ladder. Fortunately, we've got universal health care.
1:44-1:55 - Back to the band, with birds just wreaking havoc everywhere. A menacing black bird symbolizes racism, and a lack of budget.
1:56-1:58 - Oh, man, this shot is hilarious. The birds are all just standing in the corner, clearly eating whatever crumbs were tossed on the ground to get them in the scene in the first place. There is absolutely no point to this; but goddammit, we paid $20 for those birds.
1:59-2:03 - ACTION SHOT. The black bird flies towards the band, landing in the middle of the stage. The bird symbolizes birds.
2:04-2:25 - Some videos might use the bridge of the song to move the storyline of the video along; fill in what is otherwise the lyrically void part of the song with a bit of content. Maybe they'll put some birds in the shot. Blue Rodeo, somehow, gives you neither.
2:26-2:27 - Hey, remember when a guy fell off a ladder? That was fun.
2:28 - "Guys, we're one second short of footage for the video. Put that shot of Santa beating up the lowlife again. Nobody will have watched this far anyway."
2:29-2:32 - The glass breaking symbolizes something annoying, that is basically just a huge mess, and will be painful if you stumble across it unknowingly, so it's basically the perfect metaphor for this video.
2:33-2:39 - With his semi-sneer and world-weary lyrics, Jim Cuddy is as threatening as that nice boy who helps your grandma find the pickle relish every week at the Safeway.
2:40-2:51 - So, there actually is no story to the video, but at least the band has taken care of the bird problem.
2:52-2:55 - WRONG! This is great. I'm pretty sure the birds weren't actually supposed to be in this shot, but then what the hell do I know? They're just kind of standing around in the background, like they're on break from their job as goddamn co-artistic directors of this stupid video.
2:56-3:02 - The band symbolizes the desire for this video to end.
3:03-3:09 - Method acting, with Jim Cuddy: Do What The Lyrics Say.
3:10-3:11 - BORRRRR-INGGGGG
3:12 - WHY IS JIM CUDDY RUNNING DOWN A STAIRCASE. THERE ARE PERFECTLY GOOD LADDERS TO FALL OFF
3:13-3:16 - See 3:10-3:11
3:17-3:18 - Oh, God, this shot makes it all worthwhile. Both the keyboardist and the bird have the exact same "what the fuck is going on?" look here. I hope this video won 800 Juno Awards for this shot.
3:19-3:25 - I don't even care this this is yet another boring shot of the band. I just hope that that bird shits right on the keyboard.
3:26-3:27 - They don't show it, but you know it happened. Look at the keyboardist, he doesn't even want to touch the keys. He's clearly disgusted, and not just because he's in this clusterfuck of a video.
3:28-3:53 - 25 seconds of bird-free country-rockin'. You can see that the keyboardist, in a rage, has slain the peaceful dove in vengeance for defecating on his instrument. Killing a dove for pooping symbolizes a peace of shit.
3:54-4:06 - Jim Cuddy leaves the bar, which is clearly not a casino, and which is clearly on the street level. WHY DID HE HAVE TO GO DOWN THE STAIRS. Forget it, I'm out of here.
God, that was a mess. Good song, though. I can see why it unseated "Brother Jukebox" by Mark Chesnutt at number one. Of the country charts. The Canadian country charts. For a week.