MTV's 120 Minutes changed my life
There is a point at which, I think, we all start to discover music on our own. I was around twelve or thirteen when the shift from pre-teen radio sex jams to discovering albums I would fawn over (and eventually learn to play) occurred. Up to then, I was listening to music that I loved, but it wasn't always mine.
The cassette tapes I purchased with my allowance were mine, but they came to me so hapazardly. Maybe I had heard a Bel Biv Devoe song on KS 104's "Top eight at eight" and decided to buy the album, or my best friend had a Shakespear's Sister tape that I started to like because she liked it. But when I found MTV's 120 Minutes, everything changed.
My discovery of the show that ran from 1986 to 2003 couldn't have come at a better time. It was 1994 and the summer before my freshman year in high school, that defining time when everything about who you are and what you like is on display. I built my teenage identity around the videos I saw on 120 Minutes -- from Courtney Love's baby doll dresses and white make-up to Kim Deal's striped tube socks and Miki Berenyi from Lush's red hair, I embodied it all.
The two-hour program ran from 10 to midnight every Sunday and featured videos, performances and interviews by the likes of Beck, Kate Bush, Afghan Whigs and Pulp. The show was where, for possibly the first time, I saw women doing more than just holding a microphone. From 120 Minutes, I learned about Deal and The Breeders before I knew who Pixies were.
Long before I knew who or what Television was, I was introduced to Tom Verlaine through the Red Hot Organization compilation No Alternative, and the record's live performances and subsequent push the album received on the show. I saw Thurston Moore for the first time and in turn, picked up my first Sonic Youth record, Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star.
120 Minutes was also where I first witnessed D'arcy Wretzky play bass guitar in the Smashing Pumpkins' video for "Cherub Rock." I then begged my parents for my own instrument, and I promptly received a blue left-handed Fender Precision bass that fall for my fourteenth birthday. I have been playing in bands with that same guitar ever since.