Friday, May 19, 2006

Actually, Lightning Doesn't Bring ME Down, But...

"Rainbow In the Dark" by Ronnie James Dio is one of the greatest songs of all time.

Any statement of that nature is of course debatable; there are those who may not care for his vocal style, or his type of music, or his lyrical content, or his hair, or whatever. But it's my own opinion and that's all that matters to me.

The video for the song, however, is another matter. It is pretty typical of a music video produced in 1983: cheaply done, minimal participation by musicians, and a nearly incomprehensible story that bears little if any relation to the song's lyrics. The video is set in London, as established by a number of opening shots. Dio spends the entire video singing on a rooftop covered with exhaust vents, while some guy spends his lunch hour stalking a young woman before being repulsed by a blistering guitar solo by Vivian Campbell. The viewer is left nonplussed; Great song, but what the hell???

Click here to view the video.

Now, a few further observations:

  • When I was a child, I was told that Italians talk with their hands. Based on Dio's performance in this video, it looks like they sing with their hands, too. Pointing at one's wrist is, apparently, Italian for "time". You could write a short lexicon of Italian hand language using this video as a source.
  • One of the commenters at the You Tube site noticed the same thing I did: The stalker in the video looks a lot like Mr. Lucas from the 1970s BBC comedy Are You Being Served? I don't believe it is the same actor, but he would make a convincing double if circumstances called for it.
  • A former co-worker of mine named Basil had long hair, wore skin tight pants, and often wore sleeveless t-shirts or shirts unbuttoned halfway down the front. He would make a convincing double for Dio in this video if circumstances called for it.
  • The young lady in the video has typical 80's video clothing and hairstyle. I do not recall ever seeing anyone looking like that in real life. Is that what future generations are going to think that the girls of my generation looked like? As Lileks says of 70's interior design, "Sweet smoking Judas! What were these people thinking?"
  • Speaking of whom, Lileks in a wig could possibly pass for Dio, although he might be too tall be pull it off convincingly.
  • The cheesiness of the video in no way detracts from my enjoyment of the song. After all, it's only rock 'n roll.

I had the pleasure of seeing Dio perform live back in 2002. For a guy who's pushing seventy, he sounds as good as he did thirty years ago. The only disappointment was the exclusion of "Rainbow In the Dark" from the live set. It doesn't matter. I've got tacky 1980s video to keep me happy.

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