The difference between being in the garage and on the road is that there are more possibilities in the garage. Theoretically, all directions are possible. The road took Hall & Oates to the highest heights that pop music can offer for a relatively long period of time when compared to the flit of light that most acts experience. But before chart-seeking missiles like “Out of Touch” and “Maneater,” there was a more feral period when the soulful “Dad-Rock” duo were still deciding what kind of act they would be. A period which is punctuated by a bonkers and long-hidden promotional video for “She’s Gone” that’s as unpolished and weird as the “Private Eyes” video is coordinated and lame. The only thing that they have in common? John Oates’ major mustache.
If you know Hall & Oates’ music (and reading this article counts as an admission), then you know that “She’s Gone” is one of their hits, but the song didn’t really find a massive audience until it was re-released in 1976, following the success of the “Daryl Hall and John Oates” album, the band’s first with RCA after three less-than-commercially-explosive albums with Atlantic.
“Abandoned Luncheonette” was the second album released by Daryl Hall and John Oates for Atlantic, and “She’s Gone” was the standout track among a collection of soft and soulful songs that feel very much of the early 1970s. It’s a more organic, un-busy, and different sound than one is used to hearing from Hall & Oates, but there’s certainly no reason to criticize the duo for moving toward a tighter, more produced sound in the late ’70s and early ’80s after failing to fully connect with what they had been doing. Again, that’s just where the road took them.
There’s also no reason to fault Hall & Oates for completely changing their image because, while it’s interesting to see, the drugged-out/give-no-f*cks thing that Hall & Oates have going on in this video isn’t really working. And neither are the clothes.
Daryl looks like the world’s first and best David Bowie impersonator, and John looks like the most pensive Chippendale’s dancer you’ll ever encounter. No wonder Oates took more than 30 years to free this onto the internet.
With that said, the shoe game is pretty tight: black socks and white sandals for Daryl and black platform heels for John.
Here’s John Oates in a 2009 interview with Losanjealous, talking about how the video came to be:
“We were asked to lip sync “She’s Gone” for a teenage TV dance show broadcast out of Atlantic City, New Jersey. And we really didn’t want to do that; we didn’t want to pretend to sing the song. It was supposed to be shot in a television studio in Philadelphia. So we thought, with the mindset that we were in at the time – and I won’t say more on that, either –
We showed up at the television studio with a chair from our living room.”
The band also supplied the instruments and the monopoly money that they throw toward the devil. Oates’ sister actually directed the whole thing.
In addition to the band, a woman and a man in a shoddy devil costume are also featured. According to that same interview, the woman is Sara Allen, Hall’s longtime girlfriend and band collaborator. Yes, “Sara’s Smile” Sara. The devil is played by the band’s road manager and not, as I honestly thought, Sonny Bono.
You don’t get the sense that it took more than 11 minutes to plan, but it works. From the interpretive monopoly money toss when the line “I’d pay the devil to replace her” is heard, to Oates’ overlong-sleeved guitar solo, Sara and the devil, and Hall’s disdain for lip syncing, Hall & Oates captured an effortless magic that many acts have tried to fake as music videos have become less exotic and more a part of the marketing machinery. And that’s an accidental achievement that turns the “She’s Gone” video into something special. It’s pre-MTV music video history. Weird and wonderful music video history.