Maybe it’s because the Red Sox had a day off, or it could be because all of my favorite talk-show hosts were on vacation and the CD player in my car hasn’t worked for sometime now, but I found myself listening to FM music stations about a week or so ago.
Nothing much has changed, musically, in the 20-or-so years since I was a regular listener. Oh, there is some new music out there with which I am unfamiliar, but for the most part, I still knew most of the words to most of the songs. What a sight it must have been to roll up next to this middle-aged white-haired guy at a red light and see him singing with abandon to Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” Stranger still, to see him pounding on the steering wheel and singing AC-DC’s “Back In Black.”
Hitting the scan button on the radio, I was somewhat amazed that most of the music being played on the radio these days — with the obvious exception of the hip-hop station and the stuff they play on KISS-108 — comes from a time and place “when I wore a younger man’s clothes.”
R.E.M.’s “Man On The Moon” was playing on WXRV-The River. Eric Clapton’s acoustic version of “Layla” was just next door on WBOS, and The Talking Heads were “Burning Down The House” on WXLO. And lest anyone think that I am “Living In The Past,” let me assure the readers that I enjoy new music, too. I recently discovered the music of Jason Mraz, the “Geek In The Pink” guy.
Scary to think that “It was 42 years ago today — Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.” I flip over to the “oldies” station and what do I hear? Most of the same stuff I hear on other FM stations; The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys. How can these songs be classified as “oldies”?
Some of the modern music I hear is appealing. And while I may not know the performers’ names or the song titles, that’s what I have kids for. “Hey guys, who sings that song, ‘Bad Day?'” I ask. “Who is Matt Wertz? What songs does he sing?” “Who is Cobra Starship? Are they anything like Jefferson Starship?”
But the street goes both ways. Rory called me a few weeks ago and asked, “Dad, did you ever hear a song called ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except for Me and My Monkey'”? Yeah, White Album, Side Three, fourth song. “Dad, that is like, a really great song.” I know, son. I know.
Hard to believe that we’re coming up on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock — three days of peace and music. I was 13 at the time and was not allowed to attend. I was led to believe that my buddy’s older brother would be going and was happy to give us a ride. We couldn’t have been more wrong. This information came to me after a huge blowout between me and my dad.
But I think of the bands that were there that weekend; The Who, Santana, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Turn on almost any radio station today and you will still hear those artists on a regular basis. Their music holds up that well.
And of the performers that were not there — Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Moody Blues, and others — I think Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson had the best line when he said he “didn’t want to spend the weekend in a field of unwashed hippies.”
As Dennis & Callahan, Jay Severin and others returned from vacation, I slowly started gravitating back to talk radio. I mean, there’s only so much Classic Rock one person can take.
Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.