Grateful Dead, A Touch of Grey, and “Pop-Up Video!”

I’ll settle the bet you probably are making with other Retroist readers right now: Not a Grateful Dead fan, but a huge Pop-Up Video fan.

That said…

Pop In To Pop-Up Video!

One of my favorite shows of in the mid-1990s was by far VH1’s Pop-Up Video. Premiering on October 27, 1996 (one week after my 14th birthday), the show combined music videos with fun trivia. It ran for six seasons in its original incarnation and two seasons in its revival (2012), for 209 episodes.

The trivia appeared in little bubbles that “popped” onto the screen, accompanied by an audible “pop” sound. Trivia involved facts about the singers, stories about the band, and tidbits about production of the video. Post-video, a large bubble told a longer story about the artist or group.

Everything was fair game in the world of Pop-Up Video. Most episodes were hodge podge, but there were themed episodes (Michael Jackson, 1980s, Rock and Roll Heaven, soundtracks, Divas, Madonna) mixed in. If you liked music videos and not-so-relevant tidbits (guilty!), then this show was fun. But, if you were my mom, then this show was annoying, since you had to “read” while you watched. Since I had no trouble reading fast and multi-tasking, even in eighth grade, Pop-Up Video was enjoyable.

Grateful Dead…Or Just Grateful for a Time Waster

I re-discovered the joys of Pop-Up Video while laid up with a sinus infection during the winter of 2012, when VH1 Classic showed a marathon. Since then, I tend to catch the occasional marathon (coincidentally, I was laid up when this happened). And while I’m never picky about which episodes they show (never was, either!), I always really liked when the most unusual music videos showed up.

One of those “most unusual videos” is actually one of my favorite Pop-Up Video entries, from a group whose music I’m otherwise not interested in. They have their legions of fans (called “Dead Heads”), and a well-established career long before their first music video.

If the nickname wasn’t enough of a dead giveaway, I’m referring to the group Grateful Dead, and the music video is 1987’s “Touch of Grey.”

I Will Get By…

“Touch of Grey” began life during Grateful Dead’s encore on September 15, 1982 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, but was not released until 1987’s In the Dark. It entered the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #9, while reading #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, the first and only of their songs to accomplish this.

The video, also a first for Grateful Dead, featured skeletons performing the song at a live performance. It received major airplay on MTV, and introduced the group to new fans while gaining mainstream attention for the band.

Another thing that’s alright? Delicious ice cream!

I Don’t Care, ‘Cause It’s Alright…

Now, given my interest in Chicago, you’re probably thinking this is an unusual watch for me, but in reality…I love this song! It’s true! I first heard it while watching Pop-Up Video, and it was during a re-watch in 2015 (while I was, you guessed it, laid up with my first ankle injury) that piqued my interest in the song once again.

And with its light sound (which is deceptive if you listen to the lyrics), the interesting visuals, and well, trivia bubbles, it is impossible not to love the catchy nature of the song!

Although this may depress you. It really was that long ago.

But go on, click play, and don’t care, ’cause it’s alright. You will get by, you will survive!

And you’ll be singing this for a week.

You’re welcome!

Uploaded by mpd2l17

(Blame the uploader for why this is stuck in your head!)