Remembering The Midnight Special

Last night, my husband was flipping through the channels and happened upon one of those infomercials I love — the kind that feature someone like Jack Wagner and some other soap-star-turned-crooner talking about the great love songs from the 70s or something like that for a full half an hour.  I generally only see these on a Friday or Saturday after midnight when I wander from House Hunters, so I was excited to sit down to one on a Thursday night.  And I was even more stoked when I saw that it was for a DVD collection commemorating The Midnight SpecialThe Midnight Special!!

Talk about an itch that hasn’t been scratched in a long time!  This was just what I needed to get back on track with my blog, because I absolutely loved The Midnight Special. This show isn’t necessarily one that people would associate with the GenX experience, but somewhere along the line I got a glimpse of this late-night smogsbord of the top acts of the day.  And after that it became the Holy Grail of staying up late.  If I was quiet enough to slip under my parents’ radar, I could sneak down to the basement and enjoy it for a half an hour or so.  I used the check the TV Guide each week to find out who would be on, and if it was someone that I absolutely couldn’t live without seeing (Blondie, for instance), my mom would kindly let me stay up, as long as the act appeared during the first part of the show.

The Midnight Special was so much better than American Bandstand, with all due respect to Dick Clark.  The acts were more diverse, less freshly scrubbed and even at that young age I could tell that the performances were live (though in the later years, there apparently was more lip-syncing).  Last night’s infomercial confirms this, as some of clips of the artists’ performances sound not much different than they would if they were singing karaoke in my basement.  I would, of course, be honored to host any of these folks in our jam room.  I also noted that several had that glazed over look that probably wouldn’t go over well on American Bandstand, but I was more naive about those things as a preteen.  It was late at night… perhaps they were just tired.

If you haven’t seen The Midnight Special or need something to jog your memory, check out this clip of Heart (completely underrated band, IMHO).  Still don’t remember it?  Maybe you remember Wolfman Jack, the show’s frequent host and commentator?  Maybe you are too young?  Age aside, there are tons of videos on YouTube from The Midnight Special, so you don’t need to order the DVD set unless you are staging a Midnight Special Viewing Party — in which case, don’t leave me off the evite list.

Unfortunately, the infomercial never really identifies how many DVDs come in the set.  Another flashback — the purchase is done in a very “old school” way.  You buy your first DVD and then get a new DVD each month which you can return at any time or keep to enjoy all the great memories of this landmark program featuring the greatest artists of the decade.  When it comes to buying things like this, I want it all at once, and I want to know exactly what I am getting.  Perhaps the full collection is online somewhere, but my fervent desire to own it has worn off in the last 24 hours.

One more from The Midnight Special.  It’s Blondie, and she has something important to tell us.  Enjoy!


3 thoughts on “Remembering The Midnight Special

  1. I have some vague memories of this program and the host,(who could forget a name like Wolfman Jack?) but I can’t think of when I would have stayed up so late. Maybe on the weekends. Thanks for the memories! What a great way to start the day with these clips.

  2. gkinnard says:

    Great post! You know, I love cable TV, youtube and Spotify, but there was something special—as you noted very well—about having to “work at” seeing your favorite band perform their music. You had to do TV Guide and commercial “research” to find out who was going to be on—and then you had to set down in front of the TV on the “show’s” schedule, not yours, in order to catch the act. It was an “event” to see your favorite music, not just a—two mouse-clicks away—whim!

    Re. the Heart video, thanks for linking to this! I saw them live at a hotter-than-hell-outside, “summer jam” concert about a billion years ago and they were great!

    Please keep posting: I miss your words!!!

  3. […] logical follow-up to a post on The Midnight Special is an ode to Friday Night Videos, something that is absolutely part of the GenX experience, as we […]

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