Raised on the Radio

Because growing up on 70s television didn't kill me. It just made me who I am today.


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Memories of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40

When Tiffany sang “you put your arms around me and we tumble to the ground,” could I really have pictured a boy and girl tumbling down a hill—like, rolling down it log-style, maybe just before engaging in a potato-sack race?
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to imagine how I sang that song without once stopping to wonder what the boy and the girl did after they “tumbled to the ground.”

I had plenty of other moments of lyrical-content naiveté. I was in my 30s before the words to one of my favorite tunes from the era really hit me. Somehow, Cyndi Lauper’s references to men in tight pants–

But recently I’ve begun to realize there might be someone other than me to blame for the clueless way I interpreted the biggest songs of  my childhood.
Maybe one reason it never occurred to me that Suzanne Vega’s “Luka” was about child abuse was that the person who introduced it to me probably prefaced it with a fun fact about the number of light bulbs in Las “Vega”s.
My hunch has solidified in recent months, as I’ve turned on the car radio on Saturday mornings to be greeted by the most significant of all the voices from my 80s childhood. A local pop station, Mix 96, plays vintage Casey Kasem countdowns, as stations all over the country have been doing.
mix tape
Like many kids of that era, I collected songs by slavishly waiting next to my mini boom-box to hit “record” when Casey (or a local DJ) played my favorite song. But unlike most kids I knew, I had to rely on Casey (and radio in general) for my connection to the pop world. We lived on a farm, and out in the country, getting MTV was out of the question. (Though I doubt my parents would’ve sprung for cable if we could’ve received it. My dad forbid us from watching The Facts of Life because he believed the title was a reference to, you know, the “facts of life.”)
Racing up the stairs to my room after church and Sunday school to catch the Top 10 of Casey’s Top 40 was as much a ritual for me as church itself. As “the numbers got smaller and the hits got bigger,” I’d feel a little pang for any song that had “slipped a couple of notches,” as if the song itself had feelings, as if Whitney Huston or George Michael was sitting by a radio, too, hands clasped, desperate to see where he or she stood.
As the vintage countdowns have become a staple on weekend modern-day radio—and in the utterly surreal experience of re-hearing these childhood moments through adult ears—I’ve been astonished by the diversionary tactics Casey used to draw attention to anything but the actual content of the song. He must have known kids like me were clinging to our Walkmen, and wanted to protect us. (Or Westwood One told him to).
How else to explain the lead-ins I’ve heard when I’ve been relishing these re-broadcasts?
One weekend earlier this year I was driving across the state to visit my sister, and found myself chuckling, alone in my car, as Casey gave a teaser for Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It” before the commercial.
Here was one of the first and only popular female rap groups, not to mention one who sung openly about sex. But when the commercial was over? There was Casey: “And now we’re up to a tune that was saved by a deejay.” His spiel detailed how the song was actually the B-side to another song, which a deejay didn’t think was a hit.
Later, to introduce Paul Carrack’s “Don’t Shed a Tear”: no mention of Squeeze or anything about Carrack’s pre-80s success. Instead, “And now we’re up to a song about ‘lacrimation’. It’s not illegal. It means ‘shedding a tear.’”
Now, on Saturday mornings in the kitchen when I tap the I Heart Radio app and tune in to a countdown, I can’t help but focus on the whitewashed way the scripts were written.
Before “Infatuation” by the ever-horny Rod Stewart? A long-winded anecdote about Rod’s manager receiving a pile of Billboard magazines due to a mailing mix-up. On a recent weekend, when it was time for a big hit by Whitesnake, (otherwise known as the band whose video introduced Tawny Kitean to the world), Casey gave a lesson on—you got it—snakes.
I will probably always suffer a metaphorical forehead smack every time I think about Suzanne Vega and Tiffany.
But I should remind myself that when Casey introduced me to “She Bop,” he probably said, “And now we’re up to a song that inspired a New York City woman to choose the name for her cat, a cat named Bop.”

Alison McGaughey was raised on the radio and remembers buying her first “album”–Wham!’s “Make it Big”–on cassette at a Woolworth’s in Keokuk, Iowa. Now a community college instructor and literacy-program coordinator, McGaughey writes about music, books, and Midwestern life at welcometoforgotonia.com. Her work has been published in Creative Nonfiction magazine, Midwestern Gothic, Hippocampus Magazine, and others, and has received awards from the Midwest Writing Center and Illinois Associated Press. Follow her on Twitter @Rural_Rose.


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Led Zeppelin Loses First Round in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Lawsuit

This just blows me away. Having listened to the song I can say conclusively Zeppelin did them wrong. However not so thrilled that the family came forward after the song writer passed. You decide.

TIME

For decades, Led Zeppelin has faced claims that they plagiarized their iconic 1971 hit “Stairway to Heaven” from the rock band Spirit. Now it looks like Zeppelin is headed for a difficult legal battle.

Back in May, family members of Spirit frontman Randy Craig Wolfe (a.k.a Randy California) filed the suit against Zeppelin, seeking monetary damages and a writing credit for the now-deceased Wolfe, NBC Philadelphia reports. Wolfe’s family claims that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page ripped off the chords for “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirit’s 1968 tune “Taurus.” (The two bands at one point toured together and had thus become familiar with each other’s music.)

Now, Zeppelin and their music companies have requested that the case be dismissed, as the “individual defendants are British citizens residing in England, own no property in Pennsylvania and have no contacts with Pennsylvania, let alone ties sufficient to render them essentially at…

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Baby Boomers Music

babyboomer

Baby Boomers are egotistical asses, especially when it comes to music!

 

I should know.  I’m a Baby Boomer.

 

You have to remember, most Baby Boomers have followed music from its early days.  Say, a Baby Boomer, born in 1954, will remember songs from the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, The Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly, to name just a few.  This was the foundation of Rock & Roll.  This is also our foundation from which we build.

 

We’ve been through the challenges of life throughout history. First, just listening to Rock in the early years put us in dangerous territory with the church. Supposedly, music that made you shake your hips and jump around was “Devil Music”. Yeah, you should have been there convincing your parents it wasn’t.

 

Jerry Lee Lewis (Whole Lotta Shakin’)

 

The Beatles also made it easy for us. Why? Because immediately, guys wanted to start wearing their hair long. The Hell with the “Burr” and “Flat-Top” haircuts, we wanted it to grow and grow long. You should have been there telling that to your high school basketball coach. Talk about setting yourself up for running gut drills after regular practice for the rest of the week. Why? Because we were going against the norm of the day. We were showing the adults that we didn’t have to follow the same rules they had. Times were changing and we were, too. Long hair showed what side we were on.

 

The Cowsills (Hair)

 

We were also there for the Civil Rights movement. We fought for all to be treated the same and have the same opportunities regardless of race or sex. Talk about putting yourself in the firing line! When I talk about protesting and marching in the late 60’s in Indiana, people say, “Well, that wasn’t much. The South was where the violence was at.” Then I kindly remind them that the national headquarters of the KKK was in Indiana. Yeah, the Midwest had its share of screwed up attitudes, too. It just wasn’t picked up by the news agencies as much.

 

Temptations (Ball of Confusion)

 

The Vietnam War hit everyone. However, it was the first war where the average age of a combat soldier was only 19 years old. Kids were being sent to kill an enemy under the guise of Communism needs to be stopped. It didn’t take long for us to see that it wasn’t communism as our primary enemy, but the politicians that were using the war to create a profitable economy for their constituents that owned war machine factories. Protest after protest, kids leaving the United States and living abroad, and the rich filling the pockets of Congressmen to keep their kids from going to an early death were facts of life for the youth of the day.

 

Country Joe & The Fish (I Think I’m Fixin To Die Rag)

 

As we expanded our attitudes, we sought means to expand our minds. Marijuana, although scorned for years by the white population as a drug that destroys all will to succeed, became a drug of choice, and one that got many a person years in jail. LSD (acid, Mr. Love Saves, etc.) joined the field as a leader in allowing one to see beyond. Different strengths and compounds had varying effects on those who indulged. Most of the time, we simply enjoyed the trip. Of course, various pharmaceuticals also become common as downers and speed helped us through the madness, or maybe, even added to the madness.

 

Jefferson Airplane (White Rabbit)

 

Finally, ignoring our parents uptight feelings about sex, we made it happen. Free Sex meant that if you found someone you cared about, and they found you cool, too, there was no reason why you had to be married to get together and experience the beauty. Our parents knew this, but hid it because of the morality of the times. Oh, they had “affairs”, but they didn’t want everyone to know. Sex was a “dirty” topic that parents often only brought up too late. You learned about it from your friend’s fathers Playboy collection when they weren’t home. We wanted love, and sex was a part of that.

 

Mercy (Love Can Make You Happy)

 

Yeah, we were fighters. No matter what we wanted, it seemed society was against it in one way or another. But, we didn’t give up. We fought each battle and moved forward. Music was our partner. Regardless of the battle, it seemed as though there was a song that fit the time. We were unified, pacified, and verified by the music we listened to and believed in.

 

And now, we’re just like our parents were.

 

But, we’re still assholes with attitude!

Steppenwolf (Born To Be Wild)

 

About the Author:

Having grown up during the 50′s & 60′s, Rich was a personal witness to the confusion of the times. His love of music drew him into the conflicts of the day as he protested many of the atrocities in civil rights and an overseas war. Ironically, military service, during the final days of the Vietnam Conflict, ended a music career in a successful band. However, his love of music held true as he later chose a career as a radio announcer over law school. Here, along with being able to play the music he cherished, he interviewed many top music acts. This allowed him to gain much knowledge of the recording industry and the psyche of music artists in rock, jazz and R&B. Later, his love of performing transformed him into a career in stand-up comedy. Twenty years later, his love for music continues. Quote: “Being born in 1954, Rock ‘N Roll and I have grown up together. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!”

Keep up with him at That’s Life…Sometimes!

Beleza Tropical David Byrne


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If You Haven’t Heard it, May I Suggest Beleza Tropical

In the early 1990s, I was not listening to a lot of mainstream music. I had become closely acquainted with world music and bands off the beaten path. Bands and artists like: They Might Be Giants, Poi Dog Pondering and Adrian Belew.

Beleza Tropical David ByrneAn album I became enthralled with in 1990 has stood the test of time and is now on my Top Ten Albums of All Time list: Beleza Tropical.

Beliza Tropical is a compilation of Brazilian music produced by David Byrne, of Talking Heads, for the edification of the general American music listening public.

David Byrne knew something that a lot of jazz lovers knew, and that was – the music of Brazil is like no other and must be shared with the world.

This album never made main stream. But it made it into my CD player, and rekindled something I thought was lost and forgotten. It had been so many years since my father had played his reel to reel loaded with amazing bossa nova and samba. After he died, it was almost forgotten. Almost. All I had to do was hear the opening notes of Ponta de Lanca Africano (Umbabarauma) – by Jorge Ben and it was like a laser beam opened a part of my brain that had been closed for 10 years. The sun was shining on my face; I had come home.

I don’t want to overload your brain by presenting you with every song. Here are some of my favorites:

Sonho Meu by Gal Costa and Maria Bethania – If you are only going to listen to one. Listen to this one.

Andar Com Fe’ By Gilberto Gil – This man is a genius.  If you don’t know him, or you do and you like him, go here and see this.

Queixa by Caetano Veloso

Caramba!… Galileu da Galileia by Jorge Ben

Thanks to Brazil Classics vol. 1: Beleza Tropical, my thirst for Brazilian music became unquenchable. More Bossa Nova and Samba comprise the songs in my music collection than any other genre.  At any given time you might walk into my house/office/car and hear the Brazilian Music Pandora station playing or my latest mix of the same on my iPod. Listening to that album back in 1990 completely changed the way I looked at music. I had always been a fan of the “musician” but it opened me up to so many more genres and truly helped develop my appreciation for true musicians dedicated to their instrument and their craft.

Sadly Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical – Various Artists is out of print as a CD, you can get the import for 25 buckos, or you can click thru that link and get to iTunes to download it.

Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical

Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical – Various Artists


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Every UK Number One Song: Here In My Heart…

I met Steve while running the longest meme in blogging history (okay I may be exaggerating) Twisted MixTape. I always loved his contributions, his take from across the pond was a fresh change. I pride myself in being aware of a wide range of music, but until Steve, had no idea there was so much more out there.
When Steve suggested that we join forces so his series “Every UK Number One Song” might reach a wider audience I was thrilled.
So here you have:


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Gordon Lightfoot

 

I’ve been listening to Gordon Lightfoot for 44 of my 44 years. It’s a gimme, isn’t it? If you were alive in the 70’s, you listened to Gordo.

That doesn’t mean I knew the ins and outs of the man. Actually…..I heard from a reliable source that his life took some serious wrong turns, and there may have been some unfortunate drinking involved. It was the 70’s, why am I surprised?

For most of us, it’s easy to brush Gordon Lightfoot off as some musician with a ton of songs on the Easy Listening radio station. Oh wait, I like that station. Okay, some guy who makes the easy listening station easier to listen to.

How many times have you heard Sundown, or If You Could Read My Mind on Lite FM?  I admit to being stuck in the land of 70’s pop music. Heck, I’m a child of 70’s radio, and frankly, feel lucky to have been so.

I often credit Gordon Lightfoot with my inspiration to be a writer.

Just like a paperback novel. The kind that drugstores sell.
-If You Could Read My Mind

But if you leave your knowledge of Gordon Lightfoot there. You would be missing so much. I was missing it too. It took my 8yo’s obsession with The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and then later The Canadian Railway Trilogy, for me to see it.

I Bet You Didn’t Know

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Gordon Lightfoot has a lot to be flattered about. In 1964 he wrote “The Early Morning Rain”, and because he was a nobody, he wasn’t even the first to record it. A couple of friends who “discovered” him offered to record his song on their album. It was a good move. For both of them.

He did record the song in 1966… and after that 74 other bands and artists recorded it too. Not the least of which were Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Judy Collins, The Grateful Dead, George Hamilton IV (who took it to #9 on the country charts), Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Peter Paul and Mary (the most well-known pop version).

At 13-years-old Gordon Lightfoot was already making a name for himself, he loved to sing and his parents encouraged him to do so. Between the ages of 13-17 he won multiple awards for singing. That recognition helped him find his path so he attended West Lake College of Music in Los Angeles. This decision would prove to be invaluable to him.

The 60’s started a fire in Gordon, by 1964 he had already written 75 songs. However, he felt none of them really had a “sound” he could call his own. And then – he met Bob Dylan. Through Dylan, and many friends that came along with that sound, he found his sound and that sound would take him all over the world.

Bob Dylan had something to say about Gordon Lightfoot as well. In an article written when Dylan inducted Gordon Lightfoot into the Canadian hall of fame he said, “He (Lightfoot) became a mentor (of Dylan’s) for a long time. I think he probably still is to this day.” Obviously the feeling was mutual. And from an article in The Huffington Post:

BF: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?

BD: Buffett I guess. Lightfoot. Warren Zevon. Randy. John Prine. Guy Clark. Those kinds of writers.

BF: You and Lightfoot go way back.

BD: Oh yeah. Gordo’s been around as long as me.

BF: What are your favorite songs of his?

BD: “Shadows,” “Sundown,” “If You Could Read My Mind.” I can’t think of any I don’t like.

Bob Dylan often covered the song “Shadows” when playing live.

As I sat down to write this, I began listening to some Gordon Lightfoot songs I have very little memory of hearing, it could be I never heard them. I was inspired to track them down when I happened upon a list of all of his songs that have been covered by other artists. This one piqued my interest – after all it was covered by Eric Clapton. I found Clapton’s version of it on YouTube, and frankly, I wasn’t impressed. But that irked me, there had to be a reason that Eric Clapton would want to play that song. Right? There was. The problem is, you cannot improve upon perfection.

The 1970’s would be when Gordon Lightfoot would truly see fame. Finally being recognized by listeners outside of the folk music scene, yet continuing to create using his own unique sound, his songs began to top the charts. Being a child of the 70’s, it was only natural that my experience with Gordon Lightfoot would be: If You Could Read My Mind, Sundown and of course The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. But being a lover of music, that is never enough. When a songwriter sings and plays with so much raw emotion I naturally want to know, what more?

Exploring Gordon Lightfoot was something I did many years ago, to connect with my father, who was very influenced by folk music. And now again I am finding it as a way to connect with my son, to expand his knowledge of music, as I capitalize on his fascination with The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald*. Every minute is a learning moment with music. With Gordon, it could be a lifetime.

I will not leave you without Sundown:

Some trivia:

Aside from his success in writing, singing and performing his own songs, Lightfoot has found fortune in having his songs recorded and performed by other great artists including:  Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Jr., Marty Robbins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Judy Collins, Johnny Mathis, Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Sarah McLachlan, Barbra Streisand, Peter Paul & Mary, Harry Belafonte, Jane’s Addiction, Richie Havens, Glen Campbell, Toby Keith, George Hamilton IV and Eric Clapton.

In June of 2012 Lightfoot’s legacy was further enhanced when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.  Lightfoot was honored for his role in defining the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and ’70s.  There are fewer than 400 inductees who make up the impressive roster enshrined in the Songwriters Hall of Fame including Barry Mann, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Hal David and Burt Bacharach, John Fogerty, Bob Dylan, Isaac Hayes, Carole King, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Brian Wilson, James Taylor, James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Jim Croce, Phil Collins, Loretta Lynn, Jimmy Webb, Van Morrison, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Diane Warren, Garth Brooks, Leon Russell and Leonard Cohen.

* Shameless plug alert. This is a YouTube video of my son singing every single word of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald 3 years ago. He still sings that song almost everyday.

Gordon Lightfoot Graphic.png


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It’s been a while since I’ve been here, so I thought I might remind myself what Raised on the Radio is to me.

Hello Friends,

Many moons ago I had an idea. This idea was based on the fact, the assumption, that there were more people like me – as far as music tastes go – than the growth of mediocre pop music would suggest. My idea was to create a space that celebrated the music of my past, our past. 

For me, the music of my past was the music of the late 60’s through the mid-80’s. Admittedly much of what was good in music began to die in the early 80’s, some might argue the late 70’s, but we can debate that later. The music of my past also includes pop music, because pop music of the 60’s and 70’s was good. Music was good. Work went into it, blood, sweat, talent and knowledge went into making original music. You had to work much harder to be a star. Sure you can look backwards and find a decent amount of cheese. But let’s be frank, back then it was innovative.

What I have realized in all of these moons, but not been able to formulate into a coherent sentence, is that Raised on the Radio isn’t only about music. It’s about a time. A monumental time. An iconic time. Those decades of innocence and decadence. Yes – delicately intertwined memories of Brady Bunch and Hugh Heffner, Romper Room and Suzanne Somers, The Sound of Music and A Clockwork Orange.

It wasn’t either…or, each was a part of our collective unconscious. Pigtails did not discriminate, you could be a 6-year-old school-girl or a 19-year-old sex kitten. It was all good, and there was no shame.

I admit it. I yearn for those years. For the nights we spent running through the street playing kick the can; while some kids battery-powered transistor radio sat skewed in the grass on the curb blaring Dream Weaver or You Should Be Dancing on the one FM station that played good music.

I miss hanging out in friend’s basements, talking, laughing, plotting, listening to the radio and just waiting to hear your favorite song. Even being so bold as to phone in a dedication every once in a while and actually hearing your own!

Walking up town to the Record Store. Yes kiddies, if you’ve never been to an honest to goodness Record Store, that was the place to be. To see and be seen. Flipping through the rows and rows of albums, checking for the one Bay City Rollers album you didn’t have; checking any new customers out of the corner of your eye every time the opening door caused the bell to ring. Swooning over Peter Frampton posters and not giving a flip that he was an amazing guitar player too. (you guys know you did it)

That time will never be again. That peace, contentment that the world was only as big as we could see. There was a feeling of safety then, the world was digestible, reliable, you had the 5 o’clock news and the Newspaper to feed you information, and that felt right.

The overwhelming reach of media now only makes me long for those days more. To wish that our unfortunate chillins (that’s 70s slang for children) could experience it too.

Raised on the Radio started as a place to share our love of music from a time when your only choices were listening to the radio or heading to a Record Store to buy the album.But I realize now, it is so much more.

Raised on the Radio is about an era gone by, nostalgia, comfort, something that if you lived it – you long for – a place to remember it all. We knew what patience was. We waited through 5 mediocre songs on an album to get to our favorite, rather than picking up the needle and trying to drop it on just the right place. To us, fast forward was holding a button down on a cassette deck and taking an educated guess that when you lifted your finger you would be at the song you wanted, you were often wrong.

Station Wagons, The Mandrell Sisters, Hee-Haw, The Dean Martin Show, Carol Burnett, Johnny Carson, The 10,000 Pyramid (because 10,00 dollars was A LOT of money!), Password

We were the first generation to be completely raised on television, and it didn’t kill us.

Raised on the Radio is a site about me.* I am inextricably intertwined with the pop culture of the 70s. Like it or not, I would sooner watch Three’s Company or Hogan’s Heroes than Game of Thrones or Modern Family any day of the week. In fact I do.

Everything I think or do is subconsciously compared to The Dukes of Hazzard or Charlies Angels. What comes out is my own version of reverse homogenization.

Come take this ride to me. Welcome to the New, Improved, Raised on the Radio.

*I’m not selfish, Raised on the Radio is also for you. Maybe you want to share your story or stories, I welcome that. I get that your own turf might not be the right place for you to share your inner Paul Stanley or Donny Osmond.

New Raised on the Radio.jpg


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What Are Your First Musical Memories?

vinyl on player

What are the first songs you remember in your life?

Of course, the answer may have something to do with when you were born.  It may also have something to do with the type of music your parents listened to.  And, believe it or not, it may also have to do with what your mother used to put you to sleep when you were a baby.

C’mon, don’t tell me you don’t remember:

Rockabye Baby

Being born way, way back in 1954, I have the benefit of seeing Rock ‘n Roll grow up with me.  Of course, one of the very first artists that really hit me as someone to emulate was known as the King.  Oh, you might even have heard of him, too.  Yep, the one and only Elvis Presley!

Elvis Presley “Hound Dog”

I think there were many songs that I heard as a youngster that really didn’t stick with me.  What I do remember is a time when I was 4 years old.  My mother and I were on vacation visiting my grandmother in Cranston, R.I.   We’d gone shopping to pass the afternoon, and to get out of the heat of the apartment building (which had no air conditioning back then), and stepped into a Dime Store. (Once known as department stores … now known as having been devoured by Wal-Mart stores.)  At the end of an aisle, I remember piles and piles of printed T-Shirts, stuffed animals, and an old 45 rpm record player cranked up to full volume playing Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater!”

Sheb Wooley  “Purple People Eater”

After that, I started paying attention to music.  It wasn’t long before I had my own record player and wasn’t shy about throwing a fit to get more and more records.  (It’s a trick I still use today with my wife!)  Thanks to a loving grandmother, I soon received my own copy of “Purple People Eater”, and the Three Stooges doing their version of this hit for kids.

The Three Stooges  “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”

I must admit, I didn’t really know much about Rock ‘n Roll at that time.  Oh, Ed Sullivan’s Show and other variety shows we’d watch on a 19″ black and white television always had some singers of sorts, but I found that Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” and Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John” were favorites of mine.

Tennessee Ernie Ford  “16 Tons”

Jimmy Dean  “Big Bad John”

And, as much as I hate to admit it, three more novelty songs are next on my list of early memories.

Hollywood Argyles  “Alley Oop”

Brian Hyland  “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”

Larry Verne  “Please, Mr. Custer”

And then, before you knew it, the Beatles came to America.  Then the Rolling Stones, and Herman’s Hermits, and The Kinks, and … well, the story can only continue with the British Invasion and how it changed music in the states.

But, that’s another story!

(How about you?  What was the first music you remember?  Be sure to leave it in the comments below!)

Ciao!

Having grown up during the 50′s & 60′s, Rich was a personal witness to the confusion of the times. His love of music drew him into the conflicts of the day as he protested many of the atrocities in civil rights and an overseas war. Ironically, military service, during the final days of the Vietnam Conflict, ended a music career in a successful band. However, his love of music held true as he later chose a career as a radio announcer over law school. Here, along with being able to play the music he cherished, he interviewed many top music acts. This allowed him to gain much knowledge of the recording industry and the psyche of music artists in rock, jazz and R&B. Later, his love of performing transformed him into a career in stand-up comedy. Twenty years later, his love for music continues. Quote: “Being born in 1954, Rock ‘N Roll and I have grown up together. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!”


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Jerry Reed – Guitar Genius – Musical Comedian

jerry 1

In the late 50’s – early 60’s, Jerry Reed was a songwriter, a famous songwriter. So many of the songs he wrote and recorded became #1 hits for other people. Yet when he played them, they didn’t get far.

Thanks to Brenda Lee’s cover of his song, All You Gotta Do, his name was kept alive while he did a 2-year tenure in the armed forces from 59-61. Nashville was waiting for Jerry Reed to write more hit songs.

All You Gotta Do – Brenda Lee written by Jerry Reed

Jerry was known among the music community as a genius, whose un-taught hands almost played on their own. His style was completely unique and full of emotion. Butch Baker, a close friend of his said “He had this style called ‘the claw,’ ” and noting that Mr. Reed, who had no formal musical training, also made a record by that name. “I’m not sure if anybody knew what he was doing — I don’t even think he knew what he was doing — he would just do these emotional things that came out through his hands. He was a true innovator.’”

When Elvis Presley wanted to cover Jerry’s song Guitar Man, he tracked Jerry down in the middle of a 3 day fishing trip. Unshaven, Jerry walked into Graceland and said, “I was a wreck, but Elvis was about the prettiest thing I ever did see.”

Elvis Presley was so impressed with Jerry’s guitar playing that he had him play the guitar on that album and his next.

Guitar Man – Elvis Presley written by Jerry Reed

Jerry Reed wrote more songs recorded by Elvis Presley than any other songwriter.

The thing about Jerry Reed was, he was a stand-up guy. All he wanted was to play music. And apparently to keep moving. Described by Burt Reynolds as “So hyper he can thread a sewing machine while standing still.”
It’s no surprise that an NBC crewman said  “Where Reed is, there’s electricity! He’s like a 300-watt bulb in a room full of 60-watt lamps. You can feel it. He buzzes!”
Even Jerry knew he was a taut wire ready to go, “I talk about taking a rest, but I thrive on it. I stop a week and I’m going crazy. I see a bus of musicians going down the road and wonder why I’m not with them.”

Guess that’s how he got so much done. I guess that’s why he wrote over 400 songs, and recorded over 48 albums. Well, 48 that were his, there were countless others made by artists who demanded Jerry Reed as their lead guitar, not the least of which were Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Glen Campbell and Chet Atkins.

jerry snowman

Jerry Reed was known to me as “Snowman” before I knew he sang those songs I love. Heck I didn’t even know his name. He was just, “Snowman.”

I didn’t know that he wrote When You’re Hot, You’re Hot, I basically just knew East Bound and Down, the theme song from Smokey and the Bandit.

Then as I got older I realized I knew a lot of his songs, I just didn’t know they were his.

Chet Atkins once told Jerry Reed he needed to stop writing for other people, and start writing those funny songs he loved so much. I think we can all be thankful that Chet pushed him, because Jerry’s catalog of song’s with silly lyrics can keep me in happy music for weeks.

When Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins got together, now that was a whole different story. That is when Jerry Reed’s talent really shined. Man did he shine. And he wrote all the music. His Genius. The guy who wrote She Got The Goldmine (I Got The Shaft), among folks who know true country, will go down as one of the greatest guitar players of all time. Forget the songwriting, forget the silly lyrics. He was a virtuoso, het taught himself to play guitar on a $7 used guitar when he was 8-years-old. If ever a man was given a gift, it was Jerry Reed. I believe he was one of the most under-appreciated musicians of our recent past. I would like to change that in my own little way. So if you can listen to these songs without feeling all smiley inside, you drop me a line. If not, spread the word.

Jerry Reed left us too young. He died in 2008 at 71 years-old of emphysema. A true marvel of the music industry, he stayed happily married to the same woman for 49 years and raised two “normal” daughters. He died not of a drug overdose, or liver poisoning, he died from those insidious cigarettes. Jerry Reed quit smoking in the late 70’s but those cigarettes still took his life. So he made this little sitcom/movie to try and encourage others to quit in his own Jerry Reed way. If you’ve got a few minutes to kill (see what I did there?) watch and be amused.

 

Jen Kehl is the Music Director of her universe. She created Raised on the Radio after she realized her missed callings in life, were actual jobs – Boss of Music or Radio DJ. Now Raised on the Radio helps her live her dream. Since Woody Allen lives in her mind, there is the possibility he may be attempting to escape through music, don’t mind him, he’s harmless. 


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Thanks Dad, For Raising Me on The Radio

michelle liew.jpg

The site happens to have an apt title that resonates with me,because I was almost literally raised on the radio by parents who were, and still are, drawn to the music of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. The literal edge of being raised on the radio stems from the fact that Dad, Tony, is a lead guitarist in several bands and jams professionally at musical events and functions. I suppose piano lessons, including those in jazz and pop, also allow me to call myself a “radio baby.”

Being raised by a musician was quite akin to a ride on Disneyworld’s Space Mountain. I never quite knew what thrills or spills to expect.  I never knew where dad’s next gig would take us to or who we would end up meeting. It is the same today. One can describe being raised by him in any number of ways, but one thing it was certainly not-ordinary. Being his daughter meant encounters with a few of Singapore’s radio and musical personalities.

“Raised on the radio”, as far as I am concerned, equates with a little pressure. Dad used to, and always sets, high standards. It can be a challenge living up to his expectations, especially of musicianship. With that pressure came the opportunity to learn, grow and embrace the new, certainly different types of music.

Many thanks to Dad for raising me on the radio. I have put together a Raised By Dad’s Radio Mixtape of songs I was raised with! I hope you’ll enjoy this selection!

The Way You Look Tonight

Originally performed by the Fred Astaire cum Ginger Rogers pair and featured in the song Swing Time, The Way You Look Tonight won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936. Written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, it has become a standard for swing.

The song certainly emotes, and has unsurprisingly spawned cover versions by Bing Crosby and the latest by Michael Buble. Let’s go a little retro and view the original, shall we?

Going Out of My Head/Cant Take My Eyes Off You

This hit medley for the Lettermen in 1968 showcases the soothing vocals of these fine singers with a little pomp.

With 16 Top Ten Singles including a number 1 on the Billboard Charts, the close-harmony group has scored 5 grammy nominations and 11 gold records. Eclectic harmonies ensure that their tunes cannot be done without.

Dindi

If one has discounted the medicinal of jazz, surely he has to listen to this. Written by Antonio Carlos Jobim for the Brazilian singer Sylvia Telles, nicknamed Dindi, who unfortunately met with a fatal motor accident in 1966.

Soothing and haunting, this is a good number to prompt a little romance or simply lull the senses into soothing sleep. I include a cover version of the song by none other than our favorite swing singer, Ol’ Blue Eyes.

Girl from Ipanema

Again by the musically illustrious Antonio Carlos Jobim, the sexy bossa nova charm of this piece makes it a to-die-for draw. The Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius De Morales give the song a mysterious, sensual edge that has not been lost till this day.

The version performed by Astrud Gilberto became a US hit in 1964, peaking at number 5 on the hot 100 and was at number one for two weeks on the Easy Listening chart.

I seem to have a little affinity with Frank, so include a version sung by him.

Just the way you are

When I interviewed my father viz his favorite song choices, I almost did a war whoop when he picked one of my eternal favorites, Just the Way You Are. What draws me to this Billy Joel number is its meaningful lyrics that stress unconditional acceptance in relationships with others.

From his 1977 album, The Stranger, the song was Joel’s first US Top 10, reaching number three on Billboard. It made a positive change for Joel’s career, giving it the long-lasting success that it has had.

Many thanks to dad for suggesting 5 great songs and to my friends at Raised on the Radio for allowing me to make a guest contribution this week! Do enjoy this playlist!

About the Author:

Michelle Liew is a literature cum ardent pet lover who simply loves music! Fiction and poetry make her tick! Read her wonderful blog Getting Literal


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Radio Disc Jockey: Long Hairs Need Apply

So, you think radio was always the way it is today?

rich schlitzLet’s see, today, many “announcers” go into the studio, record all of their vocal breaks, and leave for the day. Oh, they might make a public appearance here or there, and cut a commercial or two, but in reality, radio has gone downhill over the years. I’ll go into more detail why I believe so in a few minutes.

Most radio disc jockeys in the 1970’s started at small market radio stations. These were stations where you honed your vocal skills, perfected your timing, and learned how to operate a control board. There were even mixed format stations that tried their best to reach all different audiences at specific times of the day. These were the challenges that faced anyone that wanted to “get into radio” back in the day.

Take, for instance, a station I paid my dues at. In the morning, it was a mix of local news, national news, and religious programming. It made a change to “Classic Standards” (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc.) at 9 a.m. Then, at 12 noon, there was an hour of “Checkerboard Time”, which was old Sons of the Pioneers and the Chuckwagon Gang singing, interrupted by farm news and grain reports. At 1 p.m., it was time for two hours of Country Music, followed by an hour and a half of Pop Hits, followed by an hour of “Bruce, the King Of Soul”, and finishing out the day was Pop/Rock. Versatile, to say the least.

One had to be a Jack of all trades to do the job. You had five minutes of state news to read before the top of the hour and five minutes of national news to read after the top of the hour station I.D. Of course, you had to have all your commercials either in the cart machine, or sitting in order next to it, and your music out of the news had to be cued up to start when the news was finished.

There were public service announcements that had to be read, birthdays that had to be announced and celebrated, and commercials that had to be written and recorded. The phones rang incessantly, the sister FM station, which was generally automated, needed reel to reel tapes changed, news had to be ripped off the teletypes and rewritten for broadcast, and you had to be witty on the air or you’d lose your audience.

Of course, some of that changed when you hit the larger markets. You still had to pick out some of your music, even though the Currents and rich soundboardRecurrents were in a box beside you for easy access and heavy play rotation. You were now in a market that was in the ratings book, so you really had to be aware of your audience and what amused them to simply hit your numbers and keep your job. The news was usually recorded by a true station newsperson, and the commercials were written by a production staff (which usually meant you had to fit 90 seconds worth of copy into a 60 second spot).

Pay was never good. Oh, you could survive, but the days of Howard Stern and other greats were yet to come. The real perks, for the single guy, came in the form of disc jockey groupies. No matter where you went, if you looked halfway cool, you left with a great looking partner.

There were times this was dangerous, though. One could find themselves invited to a party that turned out to be an orgy, or arrive to find Godzilla awaiting. Many of us used to tell our phone date people to meet us at such and such bus stop, and we’d pick them up in a fancy car we’d make up. We’d then drive by, see what was waiting there, and most of the time, quickly drive away in our Chevy Vega Woody Station Wagon! (I know, how callous and shallow of us! Still, you didn’t see the Godzilla we did!)

As Clear Channel and other groups bought out independent stations and made them all sound the same, many of us left the announcing industry. Luckily, I found my way into stand-up comedy. Others weren’t so lucky. I know of several that are M.C.’s at strip clubs. (I understand the perks are still quite good, though!)

The satellite radio industry still has its star announcers, as do some local stations, especially with a live morning crew. Otherwise, radio has become monotonous as the jocks are saying the same things, stations are playing the same music, and the music industry has gone in quality decline.

Wolfman JackWolfman Jack’s portrayal of a station disc jockey in the classic film “American Graffiti” is a good example of small town radio. At night, one could stretch the limits and play music not allowed in prime time. One could express opinions somewhat, as long as they didn’t conflict greatly with station policy. And, one could sit back in the silence and envision a day when they would be the master of the airwaves.

For most, the vision was only a dream.

Still, I cherish those memories. I remember having to go on a remote at a grocery store and talk for 15 minutes an hour about the world’s largest piece of cheese on tour there. (It’s the only time I could say “cut the cheese” on the air and get away with it!) I remember interviewing many rock stars that were making a comeback and hitting every little concert hall they could to revive their fame. I remember standing in front of the glass window as another jock was reading the news and doing my best to make him laugh during it. And, I remember getting ticked off at our station manager, cussing my ass off as I got up to go to another room to reset the reel to reel automation system, and looking up to see the “On Air” light still on as I left the broadcast booth. (Yeah, that one got me in trouble.)

I met my wife while I was in radio. In fact, let me introduce you to Godzilla I.

Yes honey, I was just joking. Now, go soak your tail to keep from getting all scaly!

About the Author:

Having grown up during the 50′s & 60′s, Rich was a personal witness to the confusion of the times. His love of music drew him into the conflicts of the day as he protested many of the atrocities in civil rights and an overseas war. Ironically, military service, during the final days of the Vietnam Conflict, ended a music career in a successful band. However, his love of music held true as he later chose a career as a radio announcer over law school. Here, along with being able to play the music he cherished, he interviewed many top music acts. This allowed him to gain much knowledge of the recording industry and the psyche of music artists in rock, jazz and R&B. Later, his love of performing transformed him into a career in stand-up comedy. Twenty years later, his love for music continues. Quote: “Being born in 1954, Rock ‘N Roll and I have grown up together. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!”


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Music Transports Me

 time machine

The other day, I woke up disoriented to the sound of my husband’s clock radio alarm going off. In the split second it took me to process my surroundings and realize that it wasn’t the middle of the night and my toddler hadn’t woken me up coughing again, I became aware of the song. Not fully awake, the sensory memory slammed into me. As Natalie Merchant sang, “Because the night belongs to lovers,” I was no longer the sleep-deprived mother of two who had been up on and off with a sick child. I was sixteen years old – hormones, life, and infatuation coursing through my veins. I was lying in my twin bed in my childhood home, listening to 10,000 Maniacs and craving my next fix from the person I couldn’t live without. In less than ten seconds, I had left my adult life and re-entered my adolescent body and brain. Because of a song. Paired, of course, with the highly susceptible state of waking from a dream, and I nearly lost who I was for a minute.

As a music therapist, I am well-acquainted with the healing and transformative powers of music. I have witnessed firsthand men and women whose minds were ravaged with dementia clearly singing along to every word of a song I played. They were able to describe to me with great lucidity where they’d lived and who they were with the first time they heard that song. They had re-entered their younger brain-space. Because of a song. But somehow I am continually in awe when music has the same power in my own life to take me back in time.

Music transports us. Through decades and across thousands of miles. When I hear the opening strains of certain songs, I find myself desperately longing for people whose faces I haven’t seen in nearly a decade. As a self-proclaimed nostalgia junkie, I am beyond grateful for the power of music to take me back in time.

  • When I hear The Indigo Girls’ “Rites of Passage” album, I become a moody, love-sick teenager burning incense in my bedroom, high on a new sense of independence. (And nothing else, I assure you. I was a good girl until college.)
  • Hearing Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” transports me to a crummy off-campus apartment, where I am dancing with my three best college friends. We stop to rest on afghan-draped couches, cooling our legs with ice-cold bottles of (cheap) beer to combat the roasting apartment. (This was before my A/C days. Wait, I’m 35 and I still don’t have central air. Never mind.)
  • When I hear Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” I am riding in a crowded second-hand Oldsmobile, my companions and I consciously disregarding legalities as we weave our own moral fabric and compose a new set of rules by which to live.
  • Whenever the song “8 Days a Week” plays, I am dancing to a Beatles cover band at a summer street festival in Milwaukee, celebrating my liberation from academia.

I created a playlist that I listened to daily during those heady months when I was falling in love with my husband. Whenever I hear songs from it, my heart flutters momentarily.  I know my oldest daughter—seven years old—experiences this phenomenon as well. She was three years old when I remarried and my husband adopted her; she vividly remembers walking down the “aisle” on a beach in Mexico scattering rose petals. Whenever she hears Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” she announces, “Listen, Mommy! It’s my song from our wedding!”

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, my brother—who is not quite three years younger than I am—began compiling a series of mixed tapes that lasted for years. These tapes contained the songs that accompanied all the memories and angst of these deeply important, often turbulent years of life.  I am terrified to listen to them as an adult, lest I lose my grip on reality and drown in nostalgia.

One of my biggest disappointments in life– that I still haven’t quite come to terms with—is the fact that I don’t get to go back and do everything again. I don’t ever get to ride in the backseat of the van with my brother during family road trips, listening to Elton John on our Walkman together. I don’t get to rock my babies and sing them lullabies as an old woman. I don’t get to fall in love again. I have this long-term goal to create a playlist that is essentially the story of my life. This epic digital mix tape will span my earliest childhood music—from the Beach Boys to Aerosmith—through my teenage years, college years, and up through my adulthood as a mother. Because if I can’t actually go back in time, having a playlist that serves as a time machine is the next best thing.

I am still hopeful for a day when the known laws of the universe have shifted and it is possible to travel in time to return to these formative experiences that comprise my Do-Again List. Maybe that is what happens after we die – we are granted one last cosmic road trip to stop by and visit all those moments and people who shaped us. I had better get to work on my legendary playlist so that the divine powers can easily access the perfect soundtrack to accompany my journey.

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Stephanie is a freelance writer, music therapist, and mother of two young girls. She blogs about the imperfect reality of life with kids at Mommy, for Real  and women’s friendship at The HerStories Project. Stephanie can usually be found behind her guitar, in front of her laptop, or underneath a pile of laundry. She can also be found wasting time on Facebook and Twitter. 


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I Thought Billy Joel and Billy Crystal Were the Same Person

I admit it, I watched a lot of TV as a kid in the 70’s. So much TV, that as a virtual latch-key kid, my sister and I often joked that TV was our mother. That same kid somehow managed to watch SOAP when no one was looking, which was basically always. Except on those rare occasions, when my dad would commandeer the television and we would get to watch SOAP without hiding out – if he forgot we were there.

In May of 1976 Billy Joel released the album Turnstiles. The first single (which means the song that they sent out to the radio stations) was New York State of Mind. That song meant a lot to us as a family because that album just happened to be released the same month my family moved from New York to Chicago. So whether it was my insistence, or my father’s love of music and all things New York, all we had to do was hear that song on the radio and that album was ours. This album is in my top ten albums of ALL TIME, so do yourself a favor and take the time to take a listen:

A few short months later, a new show hit the airwaves to an amazing amount of pre-protesting and talk of scandalous content. When the show aired, it actually warned the viewers that the content might not be suitable for all viewers, which was unheard of in the 70’s. However, the problem was the original line-up for Tuesday nights was Happy Days (I’m there), Laverne & Shirley (I am SO there) and Three’s Company (TV is my mother). Basically, I was already irrevocably glued to the TV by the time SOAP came along and although I can guarantee you I didn’t know what was going on, and some of it even seemed a little scary to me, enough of it was funny and weird that I was hooked.

Now here’s the rub. I spent most of my after school hours sitting next to the stereo, headphones on, staring at this album cover:

turnstiles

And then on Tuesday nights I sat glued, un-blinking to this guy:

photo credit: wikipedia

photo credit: wikipedia

You have to see my point. I’m almost 8-years-old, definitely too young to be watching SOAP, so the trauma (good and bad) forever etched the characters into my brain.

Back to the music – I could write a whole post on the genius that was Turnstiles. This album that could not reach the general pop culture because it was much to complex, it was more a jazz album with a pop bent. Each song was like a symphony. Each song IS a symphony, Billy Joel’s fingers move like the piano is just an extension of his arms. The complex arrangements of horns, the long solos… And if you have read my Steely Dan post you would know that the combination of amazing musicianship in the form of Jazz influence and pop is my sweet spot. And so, I would just listen to each song, so closely, memorizing each note and just stare at his picture, trying to imagine that guy making this amazing music. I knew (and still know) every word. But since I never actually got to see Billy Joel sing these songs, no MTV yet, and I did get to see Billy Crystal act every Tuesday night; that 8yo mind of mine did something I think was quite natural, it put two and two together and got one Billy. Because frankly the guy on the cover of that album looked a little mean, and the music was so amazing I thought he must really be a nice guy. I searched his face over and over for that. I found it in Billy Crystal.

So here’s the funny thing – that’s not where the similarities end. Billy Joel was born in The Bronx in 1949 and raised on Long Island. Billy Crystal was born in Manhattan in 1948 and raised in The Bronx. Both were born to Jewish immigrant families and both were raised under a very strong musical influence.

 

Billy Joel’s father was an accomplished classical pianist and his half-brother became an acclaimed classical conductor in Europe who is currently chief musical director of the Staatstheater Braunschweig. Billy Joel began supporting his mother while still in high school by playing piano at piano bars. His past was fairly checkered after that, but once he found his passion, well the rest is what musical theory classes are made of.

I am sure his past was the muse for this song:

Ironically Billy Joel and Billy Crystal still kind of look a like, which vindicates my 8-year-old brain

And… I’m not the only one who thinks so.

billy or billy

I highly recommend checking the album Billy Joel Turnstiles out. Click this link to go to iTunes:

Turnstiles – Billy Joel


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The Magical Mystery of Music

If there was no such thing as the magical mystery that is music, I wonder what humans would do to pass the time? If I couldn’t hum to myself or learn to produce tonal incantations from odd and diverse objects, then how would I express myself beyond the fragmentary thoughts that bind my mind and yet escape before I ever once catch them?

I am a child of the 70s. Technically I was conceived in the spring of ’69, which I’m told was a pretty darn good year. My mother used to tell of having morning sickness while watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Now that’s a prenatal story if I’ve ever heard one.

And as a child of the wild and woolly 70s, I was epically, perhaps even defiantly, Raised on the Radio. My father came from the time of the Stones and the Beatles, and my mother loved Elvis. There was rock, country, rockabilly, Motown, blues, and everything in-between.

Home on Deranged Top of the World

One of my most vivid memories from when I was probably 3 or 4 was standing on the stool at my parents’ bathroom sink, my dad’s trusty transistor radio blaring in the early morning hours as he dressed for work, my mom still snoozing in bed. Karen Carpenter’s heart-achingly beautiful voice was telling me she was “On top of the world /looking down on creation /and the only explanation I can find /is the love that I’ve found /ever since you’ve been around /Your love’s put me on the top of the world.”

Do you know I can still sing along perfectly to that song? That’s how much I loved it, and that’s how much it moved me, even if I didn’t understand it, and even if I had no idea what was waging in the newspapers that very day.

I can remember John Denver (one of the first concerts my parents took me to), and Peter, Paul & Mary, as they told me about “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” and I knew that the song had a sad ending, even if I couldn’t tell you why. But then they would play “If I Had a Hammer,” and I would revive my hope for the world.

There was Johnny Cash, telling me about some kind of “Ring of Fire,” but why in the world would he walk it? Then Conway Twitty would step in, usually with Loretta Lynn, and remind me that true love won’t let any obstacle stand in the way.

My parents introduced me to Ray Charles and Mac Davis, Charlie Pride and Herb AlpertHome on Deranged Herb Alpert

(the lady with the shaving cream on the album cover was delightfully naughty to a 5 year old), along with Bill Cosby and his humor albums and Ricky Nelson, who I loved to watch on “Ozzie & Harriett.” Garden Party, anyone?

As for myself, I found Shaun Cassidy and the glory of “Da Doo Ron Ron,” because I just knew he invented that song. The first 45 I ever bought with my own money was Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes,” and nearly played it til the grooves wore off the thing.

There was Kenny Rogers, and I can still sing along to “The Gambler,” “Lady,” and “Ruby,” as the soldier begged, “Oh girl, don’t take your love to town/for God’s sake, turn around.” The Vietnam War echoed all around the land, even in music, because I’ve heard Marvin Gaye and Buffalo Springfield telling us all to ask what’s that sound.

Some of my best radio memories are trips to my grandparents’ house, where I would lie in the back seat (it was the 70s, people) and listen to the “oldies” station for the two hour drive. As the Four Tops and the Temptations and The Supremes told me all about love, Jim Croce, Carole King and James Taylor smoothed out the rough edges to lull me into sleep.

I saw “The Graduate” when I was probably younger than appropriate, but Simon & Garfunkel colored my world for years. Then the raw storytelling of Harry Chapin, Don McLean and Marty Robbins…stories that you don’t really hear anymore.

Sure, I’m an 80s baby, too. I love me some Duran Duran and U2, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue, REO Speedwagon and ABBA, but the Eagles will always be one of the most defining bands for me, because they are ingrained indelibly on my memory as powerfully as mind pictures of my mom and dad.

Home on Deranged music memories

I still listen to the radio. There’s a station here that plays a mix of 70s, 80s, 90s and now. I even listen to the top 40 and adult contemporary. But I hope I raise our girls on the radio, too, because you never forget the music that binds you across the years and generations and forever holds you, grounded, and yet, on top of the world.

About the author:

After a career as a newspaper reporter and editor, Melissa Swedoski thought she was well informed on the chaos of everyday life. Then she married a man 13 years her junior and became a SAHM to two toddler girls. Now, she’s mumbling through the mayhem of marriage and motherhood in a small Texas town, turning her investigative eye on the mishaps and misadventures of parenting and the marathon that is marriage, always with the emphasis on humor and love. You can find her living her big little life at Home on Deranged.


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How On Demand Is Cheating Our Kids

In an age when it’s too easy to become a Ninja Netflix addict, stealthily clicking “next episode” on the iPad at 2am, knowing that you’ll regret it, and not being able to resist doing so, because it’s RIGHT THERE, right NOW, on demand, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time when life was so completely not on demand.

There was a time when television and radio controlled what and when you watched, and listened to.

When On Demand didn’t exist.

Let me take you back. To pre-1981, and before MTV even existed.

In 1979, music had become an important part of my life. Big important. I’d hear a song on the radio, love it, and then have to wait for the next time they’d play it to find out the name of the band, if they didn’t announce it afterwards.

And, they usually didn’t announce it afterwards, as the practice was to introduce it beforehand, play it, and then fade out the music while the DJ said what he thought about it while immediately going into the next introduction. The next new song.

Back then, the radio made or broke bands. Enough airtime meant that we – the public – would have a shot at hearing it, before, or after, school hours.

Enough airtime meant that we’d have a shot at knowing what the band’s name was. It meant bicycling to the local Walgreens after babysitting for 8 hours to afford a purchase of the next coveted LP. It meant bicycling home, LP mostly-safely tucked into a backpack, finally gotten home, and then, it meant a dedication to listening to the entire record. Back, and front. Over and over again.

Ah. Can you even remember listening to the entire record? Front and back? I think we’re missing out, a bit, now….

We put up holiday lights, on our ceilings, because we didn’t have You Tube, or anything else, and our holiday lights were beyond festive. We made magic. Before You Tube and MTV magic existed, even. We saved up to see bands, live. To buy their records.

Teenage girl lying on floor 80s floyd_edited-3

I miss those days.

Back then, it meant that liking a record was an investment. That when you “LOVED” a band, that it mattered.

Years later, when tapes came out, and you could drive, it meant that liking a song meant rewinding that tape in the car, to the song that you needed to hear again. And again, and again.

It meant that when your parents told you that your stereo – that took up half of the wall because you had speakers and an amp and a tape thing and a record player on top – was too loud, that you could put on hubcap-sized earphones. Shut them out.

And just listen.

It meant that when you found out how much you loved U2 and Billy Idol, that you’d spend hours in front of the radio, waiting to record your new favorite song, and that, often times, the DJ spoke over the beginning and the ending of it.

Which meant that your favorite songs, before you could bicycle to Walgreens and purchase the record, were listened to with a DJ’s voice wrecking the beginning and end. It meant HOURS, sitting in front of your too-large stereo, waiting to tape your favorite song.

It meant laser light shows. If you’ve never seen one, I highly recommend it.

Mostly though, being raised on the radio means that we were, actually, raised on the radio.

Being raised on the radio was special, in a way that being raised On Demand, is not. It means that I want to teach my son the art of patience, and practice, and practicing patience.

It means that I will never let go of how it felt, waiting with anticipation for a station to play A Song. It means that although we live in a life of On Demand, that I’ll do my very best to teach my son that the best things in life are not clicked with a button.

That they’re worth waiting for.

That they’re not on demand.

Kristi and Tucker November 2009_edited-1Kristi Campbell is a semi-lapsed career woman with about 18 years of marketing experience in a variety of national and global technology companies.  More recently, she was a co-host on a hilarious (and under funded) weekly radio show.  Once her son was born, she became the mom who almost always leaves the house in either flip-flops or Uggs, depending on the weather.

While she does work part-time, her passion is writing and drawing really stupid-looking pictures for her blog http://www.findingninee.com.  Finding Ninee (pron. nine-ee for her son’s pronunciation of the word airplane) started due to a memoir, abandoned when Kristi read that a publisher would rather shave a cat than read another memoir.  Its primary focus is humor and support in a “Middle World,” one where the autism spectrum exists but a diagnosis does not.


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Memories of Jim Croce, Like Time in a Bottle – Guest post by Meg Hammil

time in a bottle
I think most of us experienced in our youth what I think of as a “Day the Music Died” moment.  We learned about the unexpected death of a performer we admired, and not only did we feel what was for many the first twinges of mortality, but we grasped the bitter truth that even our heroes are not with us forever.
For me that moment was September 1973, 40 years ago this month. I was sitting on a school bus riding to school when I heard a radio announcement that Jim Croce had been killed in a plane crash.
Back in 1973 I was a moody 8th grader just really becoming aware of pop music, but lucky to be witnessing what was probably the greatest era of singer songwriters ever. The first to really catch my ear was Jim Croce.  The first song by him that I like was “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.” I remember how cool and edgy we all thought we were singing a song with “damn” in it.  But I also soon discovered his heartbreaking love songs starting with “Time in a Bottle”.  This is music I have never outgrown my affection for.
Croce’s songs kind of divide themselves into 2 types. There are character studies, usually humorous; “Leroy” of course is the best known, but also Big Jim Walker of “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” and “Rapid Roy the Stock Car Boy”. There are also the working class job songs, like “Working at the Car Wash Blues” and “Top Hat Bar and Grill.” Many of the songs involve someone getting their comeuppance like Jim Walker who learns “its not hustling people strange to you, even if you do have a 2 piece custom-made pool cue,” and Leroy who “Learned a lesson ‘bout messing’ with the wife of a jealous man.”
Then there are the love songs, among the most melancholy ever written, as one can see by the titles alone: “Photographs and Memories”, “One Less Set of Footsteps,” “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way,” “New York’s Not My Home,” and of course “Time In a Bottle.” Certain themes occur again and again. Either the singer has lost his love, or he feels he will soon.  He feels the passage of time is coming between them. “There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them” (“Time in a Bottle”)
The very best in my opinion, is “Operator (That’s Not the Way it Feels)”.  The story of a broken romance is told through a man’s conversation with the telephone operator. The song is notable for how it tells the story:
“She’s living in LA
With my best old ex friend Ray
A Guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated.”
(So much better than “My woman left me for my best friend”)
He wants the phone number so he can tell the girl that he’s over her, and moving on, but can’t even convince himself, let alone anyone else. Finally in the end he gives up the effort. To me, the last lines of Operator are some of the best ever written:
“Thank you for your time
You’ve been so much more than kind
And you can keep the dime.”
The shortness of his life simply adds another layer of melancholy to what is already there. He was only 30 when he died, with a wife and 2-year-old son. When you listen to the few recordings we were lucky enough to get, one can’t help but think, here is a songwriter who was nowhere near his peak. When I listen to his music I always find myself grieving all the untold tales.
Meg Hammil is the mom of two Freshmen (high school and college)  and a book addict who gets all the double Jeopardy questions right. In her spare time she is a 911 operator, where she collects stories she can blog in retirement. Meg posts at  Meg on the Go and can be followed on Facebook  and on Twitter  @TheHachmom and Bloglovin’.


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Thanks For That Magic Yellow Box

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Thanks for That Little Yellow Box

While children and teenagers across the land were secretly reading books by flashlight under the covers, I was covertly listening to the radio. My parents were none the wiser, thanks to a plastic yellow box — the Sony Sports Walkman.

With the Walkman came the ability to listen without creating noise through the stereo. This meant I could lie in the darkness of my room while my parents watched television downstairs. (But don’t tell them. I don’t want to get in trouble.)

The Sony Walkman changed how we listened to music. You could be in a room full of people and individually enjoy your tunes. No one knew if you were rocking out to Henry Rollins or loving on Lionel Richie. The notes were just for you.

At night, the radio became a jungle of new sounds. Nationally syndicated shows, deemed “too mature” for younger audiences, grabbed airtime late at night. The doctors suddenly took over the airwaves — from Dr. Demento to Dr. Ruth. My local college radio station — Siena College’s WVCR 88.3 FM — turned up the heat in the evening, pulling out new songs and obscure artists.

Music isn’t just something I listened to, I devoured it. My ever-present friend whacked me over the head with the punk scene, introduced me to new wave depression and snuck in a random rock ballad once in a while.

I was able to step into a different ecosystem of music and culture thanks to Sony. While friends were bopping to Tiffany, I was hanging with King Crimson. While classmates were swooning over Wham!, I was angry with early U2. Those late night rendezvous with my Walkman radically changed how I viewed the world. It transplanted me from my sleepy suburbia to a thriving urban oasis of sound.

I can’t even imagine how my mind would have been molded without the eye-opening tunes of emerging artists and underground amateurs. So thank you little yellow box. You rocked my world.

Jennifer is the moms of boys, the better half (occasionally), a family cruise director, a short order cook, a techie and always evolving. When she’s not playing house, you can find her at The Jenny EvolutionGeneration iKid and The Sensory Spectrum.


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FirstNotes and ForeverMusic

lizzi guest post ROTR

I was raised in a pretty shut-down household, where the music available was a strict diet of Classic FM (which I now love), Classical CDs (I love some of them), ‘Churchy’ music (still not that keen), and Gilbert and Sullivan (hate it with a passion).

There was one exception (other than the stalwart ‘sung Times Tables’ tapes) – one copy of a hearkening back to my Dad’s childhood; a ‘Hello Children Everywhere’ CD. I listened to it obsessively, whenever I was allowed to use the (gigantic old monster of a) stereo system, in brushed steel, with heavy dials and buttons which swirled deliciously in my hands and would land me in trouble, because somehow the volume always seemed to end up louder.

danny-kaye

So thanks to the lifeline of this one CD, I caught a tiny break and spent my childhood having my mind blown by such wonders as Suzi Miller’s ‘Bimbo’, Burl Ives’ ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ and Danny Kaye’s ‘Little White Duck’.

My musical world exploded into life when I went to secondary school.

I’d chosen a school in a town outside the city, which meant being bussed in with a bunch of other local kids. We were herded onto a scabby old, white mini-bus, with a snarkastic driver who tended to be either overly friendly or overly mean, but the journeys had one HUGE redeeming feature, which quite made them a favourite part of my day. The radio.

Tuned for the first time in my LIFE to something beyond the realms of the classical, 103.2 Power FM gave me my first taste of what I’d been missing, and just what depths of wonder there were to explore. Chaka Demus and Pliers ‘Twist and Shout’, D:Ream ‘Things can only get better’, UB40 ‘(I can’t help) Falling In Love With You’, not to mention Rednex, who I can probably hold fully responsible for my ongoing love of countryish music, since then broadened to include such gorgeousness as Bill Monroe, Rascal Flatts and Blake Shelton

I remember with absolute delight my very first tape.

It was given to me for my birthday by neighbours over the road. It was Robson & Jerome’s version of Unchained Melody, with B sides of ‘I believe’ and ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ (so deeply ingrained in my mind that I didn’t even look it up to check the B sides – I’m probably right, and if not, well it was 18 years ago…). I can’t remember how, but I got a tape player, and discovered, to my delight and awe, that I too, could get Power FM tuned in, directly into my bedroom and began listening at home, ignoring repeated shouts to “Turn that horrible noise down!” as often as I could.

I then discovered (oh sweet day) that a store nearby actually SOLD the music I’d heard on the radio (yes, I was *that* sheltered). My pocket-money immediately became a hugely important deal, and I even began forgoing my weekly Beano comic to buy tapes and tapes…and then I discovered CDs, back when a single was still 99p. To my shame, I can’t remember my first single. Or my first album.

Buying blank tapes and sitting hunched over the radio waiting for my favourite songs to come on, with my finger hovering, poised, over ‘Play’ and ‘Record’ was a massive pastime for me. The irritating DJ or radio jingle forever intertwined with the intro and outro, the missing first three seconds when my attention span had waned.

I developed some serious musical crushes, my ears, mind and soul being touched in ways I’d never felt before – thoughts and emotions expressed in ways I’d never considered possible. I became a cray-cray fan of such acts as Robbie Williams, Alisha’s Attic and All Saints.

And gradually the radio became my companion.

I branched out, finding new stations which weren’t all pop. I discovered rock, house, trance, dance, disco, and later on, music from generations slightly before my own, which is where I feel my musical soul now lives, courtesy of my new-found favourite radio station – 106 Jack FM. They play music from about early in my own musical introduction back to a generation or so before my time, mixed with a few newer tracks for good measure – Aerosmith, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Edmunds, Faith No More, Queen, Reef, ELO, T-Rex, Tommy James and the Shondells …. But even though it’s my favourite, I can’t stay faithful – my car (which is my ‘Radio Place’) has an old-fashioned stereo/tape player, with a different station (yes, including Classic FM – shh!) programmed into each of its five buttons.

(Small Victory – takes a while to get going; if you want to skip straight to the Good Stuff, head to 2:22 for a guitar riff which just *does things* to me)

In spite of that, my musical ‘old soul’ still has to resort to the not-the-radio resource of YouTube to supply such gorgeousness as The Andrews Sisters, The Beach Boys, Elvis, Flanders and Swann; usually with one or two tracks hitting my ‘favourites’ list on YouTube, as opposed to loving everything the band produced, as in the heyday of First Discovering Music.

But it’s not the same. YouTube is cold and clinical, and sometimes highly irritating (although everything’s ‘on tap’). The DJs on Jack FM have become my pals – I know the ins and outs of their public personas. I follow their news. I even follow the station on Twitter and Facebook. I recognize their voices. I dance in my car to their music choices, and I love it.

The world of music has become an outlet – I can use music to describe how I feel far better than I can use words. Music speaks to the soul rather than the intellect, and since my very first introduction, I knew that radio and I would get along, though it’s definitely moved up in status over the years from ‘companion’ to ‘Forever Friend’. Thank you Radio, for giving me so much.

About the Author:

Lizzi Rogers is a non-professional blogger over at Considerings. Her aim is to Think Deeply, Tell Truths and Actively Seek the Good in life. Creator of the weekend-long ‘Ten Things of Thankful’ hop, she blogs about her thoughts, her world and being a member of The Invisible Moms Club. She finds that when she runs out of words, music can be used to speak for her, and if she had to lose four of her five senses, would keep her hearing, for the idea of a world without music would be far too desolate to contemplate.”

You can follow her on Twitter: @LRConsiderer and on Facebook


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]The Stones at JFK Stadium, 1978

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photo: Mike Brody

The following is an excerpt of the original review:

Peter Tosh was better than the treatment the crowd was giving him. I had never heard reggae live and Tosh was the real ting.  The Philly crowd was not as interested. Tosh left the stage to a roar of STONES! In the lull between set ups I went looking for a place to do a little crank. I had lost my friends and was now on my own adventure.  I found myself walking in between the trucks parked on the side of the stage. These were Rolling Stones trucks, decals of the red lips logo, ‘Reefer Rollers’ bumper stickers, and the whole nuts and bolts of the rock and roll circus.  A rough looking driver was staring me down, I asked him if he could use a little pick me up and he said “Step right up in the cab my young friend!” After a couple blasts the driver introduced himself.

“I’m Fred but my friends call me Ferd!” He talked about some of the wild orgies he’d been too and then he said the Stones would be out in a couple minutes, he took a couple twenty bags and I said thanks and he said “No, thank you!” Ferd gave me a personal escorted walk to a  roped off area full of amazing looking happy people.

I was standing directly in front of the stage when the band came walking on and picked up their instruments.  Even at 17 I usually didn’t like music that a lot of people liked, but the Rolling Stones represented the beginning of English blues rock and I liked them in spite of their style changes and fame. Their last great album had been Exile on Main Street. I knew what depths they were capable of.

The first song was Chuck Berry’s Let it Rock, a chunky mid tempo stomp which segued into Exile’s All Down the Line.

Whatever style this was just sounded great for the frequency I was on. There was nuance in the music that was very much theirs. Simple tricks, a thick bar chord suddenly finger picked into a vulnerable blues chord and then the slide guitar connecting them back together. Not a bad tone on the stage either. The Stones sounded like musical dirt, brown, wet dirt. While the over all demeanor was hard and dangerous there was an odd sense of humor about the whole mess. At some point early on they played a very pained Love In Vain. This was guitar laden emotional blues and it sounded right out of the legendary 1969 tour.

I knew this world was fleeting. Even at that moment in my life at that concert I knew it would somehow go bad and curdle or even worse, become a gentrified thing of some kind. I remember fighting back tears for a special time in peril. This is what the music was saying at that moment, all your loves in vain. Who would even care about this song in a few years? In to this mix came the new stuff which fit in pretty well with the old stuff, “when the whip comes down, da da”, this song recalled the old mid 60’s chainsaw sound captured on ‘Got Live if you Want It’. ‘Beast of burden’ came on like an old soul song but just a little sonically darker. Old greats followed, reworked slightly and played with an urge and feeling that bordered on the edge of control. Joints were passing freely through the crowd and the whole concert started to feel like a party when people are starting to get too wild and intoxicated.

After the light and bouncy soul classic ‘Just my Imagination’ a very new song started. A phase shifted two chord rock riff with a tense rhythm. “Shattered – shattered”. The stones weren’t as much playing now as burning the song. This smelled like the new music. I took a look around and the 1970s Philly crowd was perfectly morphing to this rhythm. This was a hard edge song for some hard edge people. “To live in this town, you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough, tough, tough…” The Stones were grinding out punk, but as innovators. Stripped down and animalistic, but of course with this waning generations hippy blues sensibility which would be, in a couple years, on the run. Shadobee.

Chants of “More” were my cue to start trying to navigate back to the street and find the van. I was completely satisfied and ready to be out of this hot throng of humanity. While I was heading for the exits I noticed that the band had not come back on and then I was startled by a sudden barrage of explosions.

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the author, back in the day

photo courtesy of Mike Brody

Turning around revealed a riot going on. The stage was being blown up by M-80s and wasted wild men tearing down drums and amps and equipment. Security must have been taken by surprise because the three or four guards swinging mic stands and two by fours were not stopping the mayhem. I didn’t stick around to see the ensuing battle but I felt like those people could not have truly been disappointed by this music. I asked some one why everyone was pissed and he said he felt ripped off by the lack of an encore and no stage show. I can understand the encore issue being an insult to someone who had made this their whole weekend, but why would he need a stage show? Isn’t a guided tour through the history of heartfelt blues and traditional rock and roll music enough to handle without some blowup penises to go along with it?

Mike Brody is a musician, songwriter, video and recording producer, and writer. He lives in New Jersey. His band Brody’s Monster will be at the Light Of Day Festival at The Saint in Asbury Park Sunday January 19th at 8:00 pm. He is currently working on a book with the working title “Real Strange Things That Really Happened To Me”