Tuesday, March 4, 2008

99 percent of everything is crap

That's been used so often in writing about Science Fiction that I don't remember who said it first, or whether they copped it from someone else.

There was some carping about the music at 97.9 FM over at must be the humidity Monday. I jumped in with a verse of my own, but didn't post it. It was too long to shoehorn into a comment so I decided to use it here.

Radio is crap. It always has been and it always will be. Even a station that plays your favorite genre will limbo until they get to the least common denominator.

I asked for Lawyers, Guns and Money on 97.9's request line awhile back. A dig at someone who I knew was on the road and listening to the station. You know: Warren Zevon; Z – E – V – O – N. “Never heard of him, but I'll check the library.” Werewolves of London came on. I get it: lawyers, werewolves. Cute. His biggest commercial hit (I think) with a couple of cute lines. Not his best song.

Just for fun, I called a few days later and tried to get the DJ interested in The Stooges.

Ask for the Kinks and here comes Lola. Mmm. Okay, but that's not what I meant. Not Dirty old Town or I Wouldn't Ever Change A Thing but Maggie Mae or Hot Legs. On and on, but you get the idea.

I never thought much of America (the band). They always seemed generic to me, with derivative music and forced rhymes that would embarrass a third grader. (Exhibit A: A Horse With No Name). Now they're a classic on stations like “The Rock”, a staple of the AARP set. (I knew I was on the far side of the hill when the American Association of Retired Persons sponsored “Hippies” on the History Channel)

Hot 98 is okay (is it still hot?), it will probably always be okay. I love some of the songs they play and will never like others. For me, they're doin' good if their batting average would get them into the Major Leagues.

Hey, even Power 99 comes close. I don't understand why some people get stuck in the sixties, the seventies or the fifties. There was good music then and there's plenty of good music now. Rap and hip hop isn't bad, styles just change. Nothing but talent challenged performers doing lousy songs that sound the same? I've been saying that about the music on every station since I first listened to the radio. My parents' generation sure said it. I still hear funk and ballads on 99 that are right up there with my favorites.

I loved Rehab the first dozen or so times I heard it and wondered if Amy Winehouse could keep it up. I'm still waiting to find out. So far, she's just giving 'one hit wonder' a whole new meaning. That's just an example, I don't want to start a shopping list of recent songs. BTW, Jeff Healy just died. Too bad, and too soon. I hope 97.9 doesn't notice, they'd dig out Angel Eyes. Ugh.

Once there was a garage band playing In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida at a county fair. Their guitar cut out and we were subjected to hours of the bass riff while they fiddled with the amp and connections. The rapper hasn't been born who can waterboard me like that.

I'm just saying that no radio station has hit my sweet spot more than half of the time since I was listening to Wolfman Jack on a pirate station out of Mexico. I don't expect it. Obviously, you're reading this on the internet. Take a few minutes and create your own station; it's easy. In your car, keep hitting the scan button or carry some road CDs. (Snide aside: most business and government computers have a CD burner; make your own. I can guess why my traffic is highest on weekdays during working hours.)

Radio Radio

I was tuning in the shine on the light night dial
doing anything my radio advised
with every one of those late night stations
playing songs bringing tears to me eyes
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver
when the switch broke 'cause it's old
They're saying things that I can hardly believe.
They really think we're getting out of control.

Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don't give you any choice
'cause they think that it's treason.
So you had better do as you are told.
You better listen to the radio.

I wanna bite the hand that feeds me.
I wanna bite that hand so badly.
I want to make them wish they'd never seen me.

Some of my friends sit around every evening
and they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
and the promise of an early bed
You either shut up or get cut up


lil_hammerhead said...

There's a reason people stick with radio, despite all the new technology. It seems personal. You and the dj. The smalltalk in-between songs. And that smalltalk speaks to you on any number of levels.. music and your location for example.

The new "handydandy" devices haven't bridged that.

It is somewhat disconcerting when you turn to "your" station, nicknamed "the rock" one day.. and the 60's thru current rock music has been replaced by Cindy Lauper and the Petshop Boys.

It's tantamount to losing a friend, a traveling partner.

yo bro said...


it was 90%...

and it was crud...


KAP said...

Bonus mnemonic

Got your AARP card yet?

yo bro said...

chucked the card when they ran the
medical service (crud ;) ) through the congress.

so much for being an early adapter.

cactus said...

At least they found "Lawyers Guns and Money." I heard it driving to work this morning.

KAP said...

One Warren Zevon is easily worth a couple of Pet Shop Boys. Cindy's just dizzy, not painful in small doses.

Even mindless drivel has its place: Yahoo is saying Leonard Cohen searches are way up thanks to American Idol. Mysterious ways. John Cale got a small jump in searches and girl teenies are leading the charge.

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled across this, so pardon the late reply.

Back in the day ('93-'99), you would have gotten all you wanted of virtually any artist you could name; but that was because the airstaff at the "Roots, Rock, Reggae" station brought their own collections in to share with the listeners.

"Working Girl" from the Stones as an homage to the garmet factory workers? You got it! Savoy Brown's "All I Can Do?" No problem. How about a little Brian Auger? Done! You name it, we played it.

The problem now is most radio stations (including the once mighty 97.9) are run by corporate consultant radio types that will only play what is on the "approved" list.

The Spirit of Radio is not just a great song by Rush (that we did play from time to time) but the magic that happens when real people behind the mic decide to say "screw the playlist, let's play what our listeners want". Sadly, that time has passed and is not likely to be repeated in world of Sirius, XM, and streaming internet.

I am very proud to have been part of that magic during those half-dozen years when Kiko, A.P., Casper, Dee, J.T., Carl and myself were banging the tribal drum for all of you who were listening.

God, I miss it....don't you?

Hafa Adai!
"Captain Pat" Williams