Thursday, July 28, 2011

Walk This Way

Music videos can be fun. Sometimes, they can even be meaningful. I'm not sure the video to Run-D.M.C.'s "Walk This Way" was intended to be meaningful, but today it looks like history unfolding right before your eyes.

Flashback to 1986, if you will. I was a teenage boy and I loved rap music. No, seriously! I've often said that the only thing I really remember from the 1980s is rap lyrics. Yes, I was a white kid who lived in the middle of the country in the south in the mid-80s and I loved rap music. So I guess I am one of those people who propelled the genre to its heights today. (I don't follow it that much now, but that's a whole other story.)

Rap was still not accepted as anything other than a novelty at that time. Believe me, I was there. Calling in a request for even Run-D.M.C. - by then one of the biggest rap groups around - was a surefire ticket to getting ignored. Until, that is, "Walk This Way" came around.

"Walk This Way" really and truly opened doors that had been closed to rap music on Top 40 radio. You can credit Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for making that possible. Their presence made that record hard to ignore for even the most steadfast rock curmudgeons, and helped it reach #4 on the charts. That's higher than Aerosmith's original even reached.

Ironically, I had missed out on Aerosmith during their heyday, so I had no idea who they were! All I knew was that "Walk This Way" was amazing. Later, Aerosmith used the momentum they had received from Run-D.M.C. to make themselves relevant and successful again. Win/win!

The video, to me, is rich with symbolism. The first half illustrates the lack of acceptance between rap and rock, and the second half shows them coming together. When Run-D.M.C. joins Tyler and Perry onstage and an audience that reads as entirely white cheers, it feels like a powerful sign that rap could be accepted by a mass audience. And I'll admit, it gives me a little bit of a chill. Yeah, it's just a fun little video, but is also a critical turning point.

Oh, and I still have my 45 of this song. Beat that!

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