CAPTAIN VIDEO! remembered “Owner of a Lonely Heart” as being sort of disturbing and a little avant-garde–in other words, like a lot of videos from the period. I think I must not have been paying attention. Because honestly, this is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever watched start to finish. CAPTAIN VIDEO! feels confident in telling you that literal pounds of cocaine must have been involved in the making of “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Also probably more than one art-school freshman. But mostly just cocaine.
Things start off plainly enough, with your standard, garden-variety performance footage:
Jon Anderson closes his eyes and dreams about faeries
Requisite “serious rocking” look from whoever was the band’s drummer at the time
Trevor Rabin, bored out of his mind
But then things get strange. The music stops and Jon Anderson looks into the camera, eyes a-buggin’, and we hear him thinking: “Wait–maybe there’s another universe…” Cut to a shot of Anderson standing in a field:
Out of nowhere, he turns into a bird!
The rest of the band gamely follows suit–one guy turns into a snake, one into an iguana or something, and one into a cat (which–I am not kidding–makes an adorable “meow” before scampering offscreen). It’s like the opening credits of a really, really stupid show. I think it would be called Dork Manimal and the Zootards:
Out of nowhere, we are introduced to Sour-Faced Corporate Drone with Bad Haircut (SFCDBH for short). We don’t know his name, where he’s going, or why in the hell he’s black and white. Artistic license? A statement about capitalism and industrial society? An accident? We don’t know. Neither, I guarantee you, do the members of Yes.
Out of nowhere, two guys in trenchcoats swoop in and haul SFCDBH off to something that looks like a courtroom. Along the way, SFCDBH has a series of troubling visions:
A lot of howling and stumbling ensues, but the trenchcoats aren’t buying it. SFCDBH has a date with the law.
Eventually, the trenchcoats manage to drag poor SFCDBH to a judge (CAPTAIN VIDEO! is guessing here–and, again, cursing everyone who voted for this), who sees the sad shape SFCDBH is in and dismisses him with a nod. But the fun’s just begun. As the trenchcoats are dragging him back out of the building, the poor bastard has more nightmare flashes:
What the fuck? A spider and a scorpion? Where did they come from? Maybe they’re former members of Yes. God knows enough people have been a part of this shitty band.
I think the worms represent Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Anyway, through the magic of what passes for narrative in this sloppy turd, SFCDBH ends up in a factory. And in color. I know, I know–it doesn’t make any goddamn sense. Well, maybe the band is trying to tell us that we aren’t really living unless we join the proletariat and help overthrow our greedy capitalist overlo…no, fuck that. CAPTAIN VIDEO! refuses to accept that any of this has a shred of real meaning.
And besides, that wouldn’t explain why SFCDBH is instantly attacked by one of his fellow workers, and forced to escape to the roof.
SFCDBH reaches the roof, and the viewer is at once hopeful–like what passes for its protagonist, this video has run out of places to go. But no! The band materializes out of nowhere and begins advancing on him! He does what any of us would do if trapped on a roof with Yes–he runs screaming to the edge and throws himself the fuck off:
We finally have something to cheer for. But, as with the music of Yes, as soon as you think it’s finally over, they whip out another shitty solo–SFCDBH can’t even die right. He turns into a bird and flies away:
So where does he go? Off to verdant hill and dale? Back around and over the roof, where he can poop on Yes? No. He goes right back where he was. Only now he’s in color.
Maybe there is a meaning here: Yes sucks and so do their videos.