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The radio…

September 17, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments

radioI wish the radio meant as much now as it did then.

Now it’s just background noise….a top 40 station when my wife or kids are driving, and the closest “classic rock” station for me….enough to get to from point A to point B without hearing the always strange noises a silent car makes, and inevitably thinking something is perpetually wrong. The only time the radio plays inside our house is when we leave the dog home alone.

Growing up the radio would preach to me…..cajole me…..inspire me….infuriate me. It was a constant companion. Now it’s just…another set of buttons to press. Like fixing food in the microwave. You forget the oven and the stove are even there. I could haul some CDs out….or search for that ever elusive Ipod aux-jack….but just accepting what comes at you when you turn the key is easier. And hell….7 out of 10 mornings it’s “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC….which isn’t the worst way to start the day, right?

But then again….

I always remember hearing that song for the first time. Hanging on every note, feeling dizzy……not wanting it to end but needing to be there when it did so you could hear its name and who it was from. When the DJ didn’t announce it, well then you’d get on the phone and ask him or her. And then…..you’d call back in time and request what you heard earlier. If you didn’t know the name…or the band….you’d try to describe it. Maybe hum the chorus. Or verbalize the guitar riff. Anything to get your point across. “Play is again man! You know the one I’m talking about! “I have a feeling being a DJ back then was a little crazier, and maybe a bit more fun as well.

And then maybe sitting home, with the tape recorder at the ready……waiting. Like a hunter sitting in that tree all day. Then…..there it is. You’d scramble to hit that ‘record’ button, muck it up some, and invariably end up with the song minus the first 15 seconds. But that was ok. It was yours now. And when you were done listening and re-listening, always setting the tape so that it was ready for the next song. No time to be re-winding or fast-forwarding to make sure you don’t obliterate a previous treasure. We had to work some back then, but it was so worth it. These weren’t even mix-tapes. They didn’t come until later. These were way more important somehow.

Top 40 radio then (talking late 70s here….)….it was different. There was bits of everything. Rock and soul and and disco bits of reggae and the punk they could get away with and gooey-pop and introspective folkie stuff and incredible shmaltz, all co-existing in one big pot of stew. Some of it was shite, and some of it was glorious. But none of it was boring. Boredom was a mortal sin.

Today, all the songs sound like they were written by the same 5 writers, and sung by the same 3 singers. Auto-tuned to death. No matter how hard I listen I can’t hear a fucking guitar anywhere….and as soon as the song is over I can’t remember a single thing about it. Top 40 playlists last about as long as a bar of soap.

I can still remember the night. In my teens. With my girl. Carrying a radio as we walked home from sharing an illegal 6-pack…..and that song came on. And without saying anything we burst into a sort of run/dance…..down the twisting street, singing as loud as we dared. Hand in hand. In an instant. The song. It changed everything. Pure, unadulterated joy. I’ll never forget that feeling. That’s the best of it right there. That’s what you chase when music gets in you.

I don’t know if that sort of thing happens anymore. Does it?

I know there’s great new music being made out there. But I’m just not hearing it on the radio. I have to go search for it myself….which is rewarding for sure, but sometimes I wish this stuff was laid on my doorstep the way it used to be.

In a bit..


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