MTV celebrated its 40th anniversary recently and, if nothing had made me feel old before, the channel once devoted to playing nothing but music videos hitting middle age full stride made me feel tired.

I was 14 when MTV hit the airwaves. I don’t remember when it came to our little rural corner of the world, but I do remember calling the local cable company, whoever it was then, and saying, “I want my MTV!”

Actually, I just asked if they were planning on getting the channel, but their commercials implored you to call your cable company and yell, “I want my MTV!” at them. Most of the commercials had famous rock stars in them.

A few years after the channel hit the air, Dire Straits had a hit song, “Money for Nothing,” that used the phrase liberally throughout.

The aging of MTV into a number it would have hated to think about when it first started is odd. Everybody knows time does eventually pass, but pop culture things usually don’t last four decades.

MTV isn’t what it was when in started. I’ll admit I haven’t used the remote to turn to the channel in years, but from what I’ve read it appears it’s nothing but reality shows. Some thought the channel would celebrate 40 years by showing nothing but videos all day. But, no.

The first video the channel ever played was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. Everybody knows that, but what was the second one played? I don’t know. I’m really asking. I think it might have been something by Pat Benatar, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

MTV had a problem that was widely acknowledged in that most rock stars of the time weren’t what you’d call screen pretty. No matter how many groupies were wandering around backstage, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were not winning any beauty contests.

And that was just the tip of the iceberg. And it was understandable. Music mattered then, not image. Even the women rockers of the time, big hair and all, cared more about the music they were making than the way they looked.

The rock band that seemed least likely to have video success, but embraced it to great acclaim, was ZZ Top. They had a very unique look with long beards. At least two of them did. The drummer, the only one without a beard, had the last name Beard.

They put out a series of videos that highlighted an old, souped car and a succession of heavy makeup wearing women who drove it, and before you knew it, three guys who looked like mountain hermits were big time stars on MTV.

MTV had the V-Jays, if you remember them. Two women and three men, who quickly became hated because they talked between videos and just did not seem cool at all. One, J.J. Jackson, seemed incredibly old to my 14 year old eyes, but a little research and it turns out he was in his early 40s at the time. That was old to me then, but seems rather young now.

One year in the ‘80s, Eddie Murphy hosted a live version of the MTV Video Music Awards and cursed so much he all but invented the five second delay for cable TV.

MTV, in its early days, could create a successful band from the ground up. It’s doubtful many of us would have heard of Duran Duran without MTV playing their videos every hour on the hour.

Conversely, it probably ended the careers of a lot of bands with members who turned out to be seriously older than we expected. But the aforementioned Jagger and Richards, who both looked middle aged in their 20s, managed to survive it.

MTV changed the music world. No one would argue with that assessment. And they did it again when they put “The Osbornes” on the air and created the modern day reality show.

And they would probably be more popular if they’d devote at least part of their programming to music videos. Videos on YouTube with tens of millions of views show the format is still viable.

Either way, MTV is getting old and all us young people who first embraced it are getting old right along with it. We may not see each other much anymore, but we still like to think we’re both still out there, doing what we can to get by.

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