Dear 1970s: What The Hell Were You Thinking?

It’s strange the things that stick in your head, isn’t it? For instance, I remember when I was in my early teens or younger, my parents were friends with a family who had kids about my age, and we had the habit of visiting each other for dinner parties organized on alternating months. I remember these days fondly because we kids were good friends, and it was a chance for us to play games (their family had a Nintendo gaming system, mine didn’t), stay up really late (my parents liked to have me in bed by ten, and when this rule was relaxed, I got to stay up until two) and watch a lot of television I didn’t get to watch at home, including Much Music (my parents tended to frown on music videos at the time).

Now, this memory comes from the early eighties, I believe — almost thirty years ago — of a music video that happened to air late at night, either on Much Music or possibly on Saturday Night Live. Even at the time it was aired, I couldn’t help but be befuddled by it, thinking to myself: what the hell is Adolf Hitler doing on a Paul McCartney video? What were you thinking, Paul?

Was I seeing things? Nope. And thanks to the miracle of YouTube and its derivatives, I can see it again:

In the course of hunting this video down (a better quality YouTube video can be found here), I’ve learned a few things. One, this video actually had a lot of special effects going into it for the day, as Paul McCartney plays ten roles here, and his wife Linda plays two. And, two, that is not Adolf Hitler in the video. As all of the other characters in the scene are parodies of rock musicians past and present (note the Beatle Paul in the background), the “Hitler” guy at the keyboards is actually Ron Mael of the 70s group Sparks (see photo here), who tended to dress conservatively, stand rigid behind his keyboards, and wear a rather startling-looking and decidedly out of fashion pencil moustache. A picture of him is on the right.

Which, of course, leads me to ask: what the hell was Ron Mael thinking? His new look’s much better, but still very much on the quirky side.

It does give a new twist on the video, though, the way McCartney is poking fun at his contemporaries. And that’s something that went completely over my head at the time.

Well, I’ve shared this memory with you, and shared the video as well. You’ve watched it, and you can’t unwatch it. You can thank me later.

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