Monday, February 26, 2024

Great Music Videos: 'Alive and Kicking,' Simple Minds

Thanks, Matthew, for getting this series going. Here's the second video I thought of after reading your introductory post.

I'm pretty sure that I saw this video debut on MTV in September 1985. Remember how they used to do that? They'd announce they'd be showing a video for the first time at whatever time, and then on would come Alan, or J.J., or Nina, or Mark, or Martha, at that time to introduce the video with appropriate fanfare. I'm pretty sure the first time I saw "Alive and Kicking" was during this treatment.

I wasn't much of a Simple Minds fan before this video, and I feel confident I'd never heard this song before seeing this video. But immediately the video just totally grabbed me. I thought it was the song that I liked so much, and so I went out and bought the album at Camelot in the Kentucky Oaks Mall at some point that autumn of our senior year at Heath. I listened to the record all the way through once or twice, but I quickly got to the point where I pretty much just dropped the needle on "Alive and Kicking" and yanked it back off after that song had played.

And then it wasn't long after that before I realized it was the video I loved. I liked the song, but I loved the video. "Alive and Kicking" would fall into Matthew's Category 2, "Videos That Are Really Made to Be a Visual that Goes Along With the Music." I was a 17-year-old boy ready to get out of my parents' house on Cairo Road in Paducah, Kentucky, and here came Jim Kerr with his exotic friends inviting me with a striking Scottish travelogue into kicking, free life with all of its dramatic waterfalls, piercing sunsets and giant drums. Indeed, within a year, I was on my (self-perceived) own in college in Bowling Green, making my own discoveries, such as the rocky embankments along the Barren and Green rivers north of town.

I learned this morning from super Wikipedia that the video was actually shot "near the town of Hunter, at North–South Lake in the Catskill Mountains of New York State." Which is fine. Simple Minds was from Scotland, and the place they found to make their video looked like what I imagined Scotland to look like. But, regardless of exactly where on God's green Earth that it was shot, the "Alive and Kicking" video is no bait and switch. It's a brilliantly executed brochure for the gift of Life, More Life, wherever we have to get ourselves to receive and embrace its wild abundance.


  1. You know what's weird in 1985 I'm pretty sure we used to play a game where we would sit with our back to the TV and guess the song. So we were watching a lot of MTV and listening to a lot of music. I honestly don't think I've ever seen this video.

  2. I don't really remember it, but that game seems likely.