' ' Cinema Romantico: Dissecting Eddie Money's Club Michelle Video

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Dissecting Eddie Money's Club Michelle Video

The lyrics for “Club Michelle”, culled from Eddie Money’s 1983 album “Where’s the Party?” album, are both straight-forward and enigmatic, a guy in a car (“Hey driver, can you help me?”), trying to find the Club Michelle where he once “had a time” with some woman dancing to some song. The video for “Club Michelle” does not so much deepen these lyrics as bring them to atmospheric life, telling a story but remaining vague in a wackadoo, wonderful way, emblemized in how IMDb bills Mr. Money’s character in the video as “Dracula”. I kid you not. See for yourself. His character doesn’t really suggest Dracula, never mind Vlad the Impaler, but then again, maybe he does? He seems to be a man stuck in a state of lovelorn woe that it’s as if he’s not quite alive yet not quite dead. But maybe it’s best to let just “Club Michelle” speak for itself.

The video begins here, in this taxi, cruising familiar cityscapes, the car of the driver to whom Dracula is referring as the song opens.

We see Dracula in the back before the lyrics begin, certainly looking like a man in the throes of some desperate search.

And then! He suddenly turns, not as if he’s startled by the camera’s presence, because he does not perform a dobule take, but as if the urgency of the story he wants to tell has now overcome him and he CAN’T WAIT ANOTHER SECOND TO START SINGING IT TO YOU.

And as he explains what he’s looking for, the Club Michelle, he really looks, a kind of from-the-bow-of-a-ship look but from-the-backseat-of-a-cab which I feel like the screenshot does not even do justice.

And though the cut suggests that he is literally looking at the Club Michelle, he is merely conjuring it up in his imagination...

...which is how the second stanza begins, plunging into this memory, where he, Dracula, or Sgt. Dracula, perhaps, because he is wearing some undefined military uniform...

...sees her, “staring right through the crowd.”

And though the song itself makes no mention of this dour man who is apparently the traditional misogynistic keeper of this woman, the video’s story requires a heavy and he fulfills the role.

Here Dracula and our nominal Michelle meet on the dance floor in a truly astounding shot that is like the “Airplane!” parody of “Saturday Night Fever” done with an irony-free straight face.

Now we enter the chorus which pogoes back and forth between the dancers, the ones who just keep on dancing to “that song”, who come across more like people auditioning for “A Chorus Line”, I feel like, than club-goers-

-and Eddie Money’s band, epitomized in this legitimately scary close-up of his drummer who looks, frankly, more like a guy suffering roid rage in the Gold’s Gym sauna room after some serious squats. And if the shots of the band initially seem superfluous, just standard-issue music video operating room, their point will, as we shall see, gradually emerge.

And upon exiting the chorus, Dracula advises how he remembers “oh so well / dancing at the Club Michelle”, which this look makes you believe, a look you will find in Urban Dictionary next to “Shit Eating Grin”. I mean, Eddie Money took some flak now and then for not being able to dance, but who needs to dance when you got facial expressions like this in your emotive arsenal?

Now we enter the second verse, where Sgt. Dracula and his speculative Lady Love sidle up to the bar.

Alas, trouble beckons as the heavy signals for his flunkies to go and retrieve his nameless beauty from Dracula.

And now let us pause mid-post for an unofficial Shout-Out to the Extra. Because this sudden close-up of the bartender, catching the scent of a burgeoning brawl in the air, is a portrait of a nameless man committed to his one moment. We salute you, extra!

Dracula rears back to throw a punch at the flunkies but gets blocked-

-and escorted from the club.

And now we come to the five-shot soliloquy that truly makes this video. First, we cut outside the club to see Dracula ejected from it in a tilted angle that I totally screams First Year Film Student Who Just Watched “The Third Man.”

Then, and though the darkness of the image coupled with the fact I, like, pulled these images from freaking Youtube makes it hard to see, Dracula wipes the blood from the altercation from his mouth.

If those were the moments when he lost her, then this is the moment when he truly becomes emotionally unglued, emblemized in him grabbing hold of that seatbelt like its the ripchord on the parachute that just.will.not.open.

And all his anguish metaphorically erupts in the guitar solo!

And finally, this point-of-view shot looking out the cab window, which is him! Looking, looking, looking!!!

In the last verse, Dracula seems to find the old location of the former mystical Club Michelle, almost like George Costanza squiring Jerry to the meat-packing plant that once housed the fabled Forbidden City of Beautiful Women but now just has a bunch of carcasses dangling from the ceiling. But when Dracula touches the door-

-this image flashes on the screen-

-and the way he pulls back from the door immediately almost seems to imply that it was not merely a thought or dream wafting through his mind but an electrical nostalgic surge, or something, emanating from the door.

And as the taxi carrying Dracula departs-

-the Club Michelle gradually returns to life, but maybe merely on some other supernatural plain, one that Dracula can no longer access.

And so what is left for a man besot by unrequited love to do other than play a show and sing through the pain.

RIP, Eddie Money.

No comments: