Something strange happened a few minutes ago. I was eating lunch (not the strange thing) and I was flipping through channels for something on TV (still not the strange thing). Alas, there was nothing on, so I settled for the short-attention span programming of VH1 Classic. I figured I could probably catch a few old music videos or performances that I haven’t seen in a few years (or rather since the last time I turned on VH1 Classic). All normal. But here's what was strange: The video that came on was Damn Yankees "High Enough". Now, the fact that that video was being played on VH1 Classic was not the weird part (though I would argue this is no 'classic'), but what was was the fact that I just sat there staring at the screen...almost hypnotized by their 'sensitive metal band music'. I'm not quite sure why.
Now a lesser writer would make an allusion that this hypnotism must have been what kept most of the world loving bands like Stryper in the 80s. Naw, that’s a hack point...anyone who hears it knows this music sucked, we don’t need to drive it into the ground with impossible justifications. It was bad, you know it, I know it. In my early high school days I listened to a great deal of it (I'm sorry before I had taste I was into hair metal); now I can’t stand it. Normally when it comes on, I jump for the remote to turn it off. For some reason though, I didn’t for "High Enough".
Something in the video did something to me. It can't be the song...I’m past that point in my musical tastes (at least I think)...Damn Yankees isn't even good enough to listen to ironically. It's not the band itself, consisting of guitar virtuoso Ted Nugent,
The video makes no sense what-so-ever. It starts with a "typical 80s hair metal vixen" (on loan from the band Vixen) leaning up against a waiting police cruiser, asking a lazing cop what all the commotion is. The very Southern cop responds: "Its just dem Damn Yankees". Then a young man runs past the oblivious sheriff and into a house (which I assume the cop was suppose to be stopping him from doing) and is followed by two other police cruisers carrying more police officers than one could possibly hold. They look mad. Lets see why!
As the cops line up their guns against a cop car, intending to I assume drive the suspect out, the video fades to black and white with the band in the house, looking out windows and getting worried. Then the music starts.
Now, I'm confused. Is the band supposed to be representing the young suspect? Are they hostages? Was this their house he ran into? Are these his associates? Is he their manager? Something doesn’t exactly make sense here.
The rest of the video tells the young man's story, or rather, his girlfriend's story. Apparently he robs liquor stores (presumably more than one) while his girl drives the get-a-way car. They're obviously not too bright, as they both do this with their picture perfect 80's video faces uncovered in broad daylight. Eventually, while making-out, they get caught. (One tuning into this video half way through will think it's message is that if you kiss someone, you'll get arrested. How will you explain this to your mother?) Anyway, they run, she gets caught, he pauses, but keeps on running, showing that he's a heartless bastard, yada yada yada. Meanwhile all this is intercut with video of the band playing in front of gas pumps and Ted Nugent being a camera hog.
The video then jumps back to the beginning as the police finally open fire onto the house (lots of fire...more than is probably necessary). What does the young suspect inside do? Nothing...Instead Ted Nugent busts down the door and appears to defeat them with a Nugent guitar solo (seems reasonable). All this time, the cops are still firing at Nugent and the house. What do they hit though? Beer cans. Lots and lots of beer cans.
So now the girls in jail, the police rush into the house, Tommy Shaw shows off his crucifix earrings, and Nugent hogs the camera more. The video ends with one of the most puzzling sequences I’ve ever seen...the girl is meeting with a Priest, and then being lead down death row to be executed. What? Huh? I mean, I've seen "My Cousin Vinny" a number of times, I've heard their court systems in the South may not be fair, but execution for robbing a liquor store? Hell, she was just the driver! She didn’t even do the robbery. The message I’m getting out of this part of the video is that all of Damn Yankees didn’t pass high school government.
The last image of the video is hysterical. We see now that the Priest was in fact, Ted Nugent. And once again, he's a ham for the camera.
This whole video just blows my mind. What the hell is it trying to say? Stay out of the South? Don't drive a car? A Nugent guitar solo can defeat an army of police? It's full of mixed messages. I'm sure it doesn’t help that the song is a ballad about breaking up, and is placed up against a video about robbing liquor stores.
I'm looking over the lyrics to the song now. Wow, honestly, they might be some of the worst lyrics I've ever read. Here they are.
After the video was over, another Damn Yankees video came on. I didn’t even know they had more than one song. It wasn’t much better, but at least it didn’t try to include a plot line. What the hell was wrong with us pre-Nirvana?
The video can be found here.