Growing up in rural, middle America, I quickly developed a fixation with music videos as a way to stay up on the latest and greatest. I didn't have a record store and I had yet to discover music magazines other than Rolling Stone and Spin.
But I had 120 Minutes, the greatest music show on TV ever, and MTV still played videos around early episodes of the The Real World. And because of Matt Pinfield real alternative and underground music was somewhat accessible.
This was before the Internet age and Web 'zines like Pitchfork brought indie music to the masses. Now all a Missouri farm boy needs to do to hear the latest and best is a debit card and Insound.com.
But there's something missing in the picture now -- music videos. While there are still some bands and directors making interesting videos, the genre is on life support. Maybe iTunes, which started offering videos to help sell Apple's video iPods, will resurrect them, but it's seems unlikely.
The intrepid folks at VH1 have realized that the people who poured over 120 Minutes still like videos. And while they aren't going to spend too much time showing them, their sister station VH1 Classic is.
A lot of what VH1 Classic does is show pop and rock videos from the '80s. But three nights a week, it runs a show that will take anyone older than 25 way, way back -- The Alternative.
After stumbling on it one day, I've got my Tivo set and watch it religiously. Where else will you find The Cure, Depeche Mode, Adam Ant and Nine Inch Nails in a single hour of television?
Not everything the show runs is outstanding (there's only so much Public Image Ltd. I can take) and there are plenty of songs I've never heard before, some for good reason and others because even with MTV the Midwest misses stuff.
From Murmur-era R.E.M. and the I-can't-believed-I-loved-that-song feeling I got from seeing Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Brain" video, the show packs in the indie and alternative classics.
Consider a sampling of the playlist from last Wednesday's show: Morrissey -- "We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful"
Cowboy Junkies -- "Sweet Jane"
The Jesus and Mary Chain -- "Blues from a Gun"
Jane's Addiction --"Mountain Song"
Radiohead -- "Street Spirit (Fade Out)"
Blur --"Girls & Boys"
In between were tracks from The Tom Tom Club, The Cure, Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees, the Pixies and just about any other awesome alternative band from 1982 to 1995.
If you have digital cable Check out VH1 Classic's Web site for showtimes. It's worth it.