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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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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There Must Be Some Misunderstanding – How a Missing Genesis Album was Eclipsed by Van Halen

guest dj 200 dark

This week’s Raised on the Radio Guest Post, is by Doug Foster. Doug and I go waaaay back and I am thrilled to have him on Raised on the Radio.

Please click this link to read this post about love and loss and Van Halen,  There Must Be Some Misunderstanding

As much as I have loved having Raised on the Radio as it’s own site, we will now be moving back to where it all began. If you want to stay on top of all the newest posts from Raised on the Radio guests, regular contributors and me, please click over to My Skewed View and subscribe.


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A Letter to Carole King Concerning Tapestry

Dear Carole,

In 1971 you released an album called “Tapestry”.  This is an album in which you either wrote all the songs either by yourself, or with a little help from your friends, with the exception of “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.”  I say this not to tell you something you already know, but to simply state facts since so many artists in today’s world have absolutely no idea how to write a decent song.  So sad, but so true!

I was in the midst of a great love with a young lady I imagined would be my mate the rest of my life when I heard the first single, “I Feel The Earth Move”.  Indeed, she did make the Earth move under my feet, and everything else for that matter.  I’d lost my mother when I was only thirteen, and she had become the sole female in my life.  We’d walk together, hand in hand, through all of life’s trials and tribulations regardless of the odds.  And, you were there with us.

(“I Feel The Earth Move”)

How fragile young love is.  It wasn’t long before your second single, “It’s Too Late” was telling our story.  I know, your were telling the story from your own experiences and from a female point of view, but believe me, your words never fit a situation better.  She’d grown tired of walking the halls at high school alone and had found another.  Yes, she’d returned my engagement ring, only to ask for it the following week.  That was when I found it wasn’t I that she’d desired, but the status of wearing a diamond to high school.  I should have known better.

(“It’s Too Late”)

After her, I found another.  Yet, Vietnam was on the horizon reminding me how unsure the future could be.  I was having fun with my new partner, doing things that I’d never imagined doing, as she was an entirely different person than the first.  Much more daring and one to seek out the fun things life had to offer, I left the land of the narrow-minded and experienced my own “Smackwater Jack” person.  From concerts to going ice fishing (and accidentally toasting crickets along the way with the rear heater vent in the VW), she taught me that it wasn’t only material goods that brought a smile, but the small things that could be shared together in a very special moment.

(“Smackwater Jack”)

“Tapestry” continued to follow me in my life.  The military caught up with me and I couldn’t escape its  grasp.  After a trip home for leave, I’d started the eighteen hour drive back to the base in Virginia when “So Far Away” hit the radio.

Yes, we’d visited and shared not only some good times, but also our physical love for each other.  There were no promises made to be broken in the future.  We’d acted as how we’d expected adults to act.  It wasn’t the most loving goodbye, but it was sufficient, or so we’d thought.

(“So Far Away”)

Would you believe I turned the car around after listening to your song and drove an hour and a half back to do it all over again?  I did!  But this time, with love and affection.  I asked her to gather her things and go with me.  Of course, she didn’t as her college obligations and such kept her cemented to her surroundings.  But, at least your song made our goodbye one in which we knew we might have a chance to get back together in the future.

Your 8-track accompanied me in my journeys for many years, later becoming a cassette and then a cd.  Every song has a personal story that I could relate, but restrain myself for respect for your time.  I will say that “Home Again” was there when I returned to her and my home after the military, as well as “You’ve Got A Friend” every time I tried to cheer up someone over the years that needed a smile.

(“Home Again”)

I really don’t know if you knew how deep “Tapestry” would affect a person over the years when you released it.  I can only tell you that to this soon to be 60-year-old, it has created a musical bond between you and millions like me, whose lives have been much better places to be with “Tapestry” a part of them.

Now, you and I and millions of others are getting older by the second.  One by one, we tend to leave this Earth and head off into another existence … or, so we hope.  It’s been a long and interesting journey, and the next one promises nothing different.

I have to say “Thank You” for providing us with “Tapestry”.  It enlightened, nurtured, consoled, and entertained us for many a decade.

I’m just wondering, will “Home Again” be played as an encore when we reach our final destination?

With Love,

Rich

To Download Carole King Tapestry, click this link: Tapestry – Carole King

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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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’.