Title: Dear God
Director: Nick Brandt
The delays between posts keep getting longer and longer, and I apologize for that. I have to admit, though, that for a while the foot-dragging was for a very specific reason: "Dear God" had completely vanished from YouTube, and I refused to go on without it. (In the end, I found a copy elsewhere and uploaded it myself. It was either that, or link to the only other YouTube copy, which for reasons unknown had been subtitled.) The wait, however, may have been a blessing in disguise, because it's given me a chance to process why I adore this clip so much. I've never seen anything like it, but it's not immediately obvious why it's so unique. I mean, yes, the concept is brilliant, and yes, the swooping crane shots are second to none, and yes, that ancient, grappling tree in the middle of a field may be the greatest setting ever used on a video, but there's something more, a left-of-center vibe that I couldn't quite place. Then it dawned on me: it's the editing. The vast majority of music videos fall in one of two categories, editing-wise. In most cases, the cutting lands somewhere in the frenetic-to-spastic continuum. Those that don't usually are single-shot videos, either as rtistic statements or as bravura demonstrations of directorial skill. Director Nick Brandt, on the other hand, does neither on "Dear God." His editing style here is more cinematic, and slow to the point of luxury. The first two shots alone take nearly a full minute, and further shots take nearly as long (or even longer, in the case of the first bit after night falls). This gives us a chance to ponder the images of people in the trees, representing the Protestant ideal that Andy Partridge is rejecting. It's a contemplative, philosophical song, and by lingering Brandt gives us the chance to ponder the same questions the song poses. Until, of course, the drumbeat begins to pound, Andy begins to shout God down, and the hatchets begin to fly. "Dear God" was only a B-side, and not even included on Skylarking, the album it supported, but it was on the strength of both the song and this video (a multiple VMA nominee) that it became XTC's biggest hit, and quite possibly the classiest moment MTV had experienced that decade. Continue this list without it? Not on your life.