Thursday, December 27, 2012

Old Guy Radio

Ever since Howard Stern left terrestrial radio for dead, ever since video killed the radio star, FM music radio has been on the decline.  The 8-track, then cassette tapes, then CD players started the bleeding.  iPods and satellite radio have supplied the final death blow.  Now only the 47% of Americans who live on government subsistence are forced to listen to FM music.  Everybody else has moved on and can choose their own playlist.

I cannot yet move on.  I am stuck in FM hell, in the car at least.

I wish I could create my own playlist to fill the void while driving.  I own 3 cars with a combined mileage of 414,000 miles.  2 of these 3 conveyances were manufactured before the iPod was invented and the third was barely 15 months old.  So it’s FM AOR (album oriented rock) stations for me when the sports talk radio conversation turns to the Washington Wizards’ potential lottery picks in the upcoming draft, possible 2013 quarterback openings for Tim Tebow  or the marital infidelities of big time college coaches. 

I have no choice.  Listening to the hum of the engine is not an option because the engines of all 3 cars stopped humming long ago.  When talk radio fails to entertain, it’s classic rock.

After wading into the local classic rock station, BIG 100.3 for the past few months, I now know why the medium is dying as a viable source for old guy entertainment.

Shortened versions of songs

Last week in the car I heard subtly edited versions of The Rolling Stones’ Miss You and In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel.  I have heard these 2 songs thousands of times.  I own the albums.  I have bought the CDs.  I know when you change the song as originally performed and recorded.  The word I am looking for is blasphemy.  

You have to know your target audience.  We know the album versions of every classic rock song that ever achieved commercial popularity.  You cannot fool us with abridged versions of Freebird, or shave a few notes off of the instrumental section of Light My Fire without us noticing and flinching involuntarily.  If you can’t spare the air time to play the entirety of Peter Frampton’s Do You Feel Like I Do, then don’t even bother.  It’s just going to piss us off and we will not support your sponsors.

On a related note, if you are going spin Hocus Pocus by Focus, either play the long version or skip it all together.  When I hear the 3 minute, 30 second version, I weep for the culture.


Talk should be confined to talk radio stations.  The only talking that interests me on these music stations is Talking Heads.  I am not impressed that the recovering DJ can talk over the introduction to Tom Petty’s American Girl and know exactly when to stop so that we can hear the lyrics uninterrupted.  The guitar intro is the best part of that song.  The guitar intro is the best part of many rock standards.  Please shut up.

It’s Over

I think I speak for my generation on this.  You may ban all songs by Starship (songs from the first iteration, Jefferson Airplane are OK; even songs from the second incarnation, Jefferson Starship, are OK).  Once they dropped the ‘Jefferson’, you may drop them from the rotation.

Toto can remain on the shelf.  Toto stopped being relevant once they stopped playing back up for Boz Scaggs.

Loverboy was never good and never to be confused with classic.  “You want a piece of my heart, you’d better start from the start; You wanna be in the show, c’mon baby let’s go” ranks among the worst song lyrics of all time.  Just because I know every word and every bridge doesn’t mean I like the song or that the song has any redeeming quality.

This list is longer, but I’m in a good mood today.

It’s Been Played

Breakfast with the Beatles, the Vinyl Vault, Two for Tuesday, Desert Island Mix, Get the Led Out and Rocktober are done.  These were clever concepts when first introduced in the early 1980s.  Accept that classic rock songs by definition will always be dated.  Your promotions and gimmicks don’t have to be.

If I Wanted to Hear the Same Songs Over and Over, I’d Switch to Hot 99.5

I should never hear Dust in the Wind by Kansas more than once within the same 24 hour period.  You will lose the few men like me who listen occasionally if you insist on pushing so hard for the female demographic with songs like that. 

One more thing - must you play Frankenstein by the Edgar Winter Group to keep your classic rock station certification valid, or is there another reason?  I can’t think of one that justifies hearing that song once per day.  Once per quarter is sufficient.  Make it a treat, not a chore.

Keep It Dirty

Today was the last straw.   You edited the final line of Charlie Daniels’ The Devil Went Down to Georgia to “son of a gun” from its original “son of a bitch”.  Really?  That line is no more offensive than Mrs. Claus transferring an obscene video from her Galaxy phone to Santa Claus’ Galaxy phone, and that commercial is on heavy rotation on network television.  I hear harsher language on C-SPAN.  Grow a pair and play the song as written.

Censoring the end of this song is an insult to my sex, drugs and rock n’ roll sensibilities.

Album Oriented

We reluctant FM classic rock radio station listeners grew up with albums.  We know all the tracks, not just the heavy rotation hits.  You are competing with Pandora and personal mixes on iPods.  You’ve got to evolve.  Surprise me once in a while.  Play a legitimate deep track.  I will respect you when I hear The Police’s Sally – Be My Girl or any Bowie song not included on one of his Greatest Hits compilations.

And while you are at it, if you going play Time from Dark Side of the Moon, include The Great Gig in the Sky immediately after or just forget the whole thing.

Final Thought

There is no acceptable remix version of Eddie Money singing Two Tickets to Paradise.  Please destroy whatever it is you played last week and pretended it was the Eddie Money classic.   It wasn’t.  Have you no shame?

 Just because it’s old doesn’t make it classic.

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