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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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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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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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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Sly and The Family Stone takes you Higher!

sly higher!

Everybody is a Star

The best thing that could have ever happened to me and Sly was the release of the new box set – Sly and the Family Stone, Higher!

Growing up in the 70’s I was spoon fed Sly. I wasn’t living in San Francisco, and even if I was, I am pretty sure they wouldn’t have let a 4-year-old in his shows. So how could I possibly know?! HOW!

The truth is, I really didn’t become acquainted with Sly that much until I was a, let’s say, “free-thinking” college student looking for the funk. But even then it was just the freaking tip of the iceberg. And when you spend a lot of time with the tip of the iceberg, it starts to get old. And boring. And gray.

Ah, so how is it, that 40 years after Sly’s genius was being recognized I am only seeing it now? Because, this is one of those rare instances where the record industry did see it. Those record puppeteers pretty much gave Sly free rein. That is how you KNOW he was a genius. Sure, they gave him so input, and he gladly took it. He was not at all averse to “dumbing it down” to get in the door.

But the sheer truth is, that Sly and the Family Stone were at their very best playing live, they never failed to fill a venue. And frankly, when they were given free rein to jam in the studio, it was magical.

Did you know he wasn’t always the singer, or ever the only one? He was the magician, the creator – the genie on the sweet keys, or maybe making those strings sing, or maybe all of it. Because he was that guy.

He was that guy who ONLY played what he felt, he only wrote his truth. The music, the words they really came from his soul. He never sold out, he was perfectly happy with the idea of making his music accessible to the masses because even the straight folks should be able to enjoy his music.

If you ever had any doubt at all of his genius or his truth. Listen to this Live version of Stand! Sly will bare his soul and lend you a hand all at once.

Oh, you have to listen to this.

The more I read about Sly, the more I wanted to hug him, sit with him, be in his presence, have a conversation with him. A gift like his is so rare. It really is, that to just be able to share a moment with it, can enrich for a lifetime. And although The Family Stone has played without him, and don’t get me wrong they are some FREAKING amazing musicians, it’s not the same as the man. You can play the music, but the music was born out of the man.

I’ve read a lot of people who said is music was “simple” but when you look at the big picture, it was anything but. Sure some songs were technically simple, but look at The Beatles, it doesn’t make them any less genius.

And I’ve read that Frank Zappa didn’t think much of him, which I find fascinating and disappointing. There must be some underlying story there, because my only reason for looking into that question was some similarities I heard, as a Zappa fan. There’s allusion to Frank thinking he was a sell-out, but Sly was not a sell-out, he genuinely wanted everyone to “Dance to the Music”.

Following The Dead for so many years I can only imagine that a Sly and the Family Stone show would have been like that times a million as far as the jams and getting down, man Getting Funky!

Talk about a time when you had to be there to truly understand! Luv N’ Haight, man – I took a break from life for a while and crashed with some friends for a few months in San Francisco. Spent many a day up by the Haight, but it was not this. Nope. Those days are gone, we can only listen now.

Also, love to hear Cynthia sing.

Sly and Carlos Santana got really close, listen to this song, sound familiar? Music was love, Sly was happy for his songs to be repurposed and redone between people who loved music.

I Ain’t Got Nobody – Sly and the Family Stone

Do you know how many songs you’ve known and loved by other artists?

Turn You Loose – Sly and the Family Stone – This is how it’s done.

How about a song that starts out as a dis-jointed children’s song we all grew up with and turns into a funky jam, with an amazing horn section about social injustice?

Underdog – Sly and the Family Stone

Sy and the Family Stone opened the door for R&B funk bands like Ohio Players, George Clinton, The Parliament Funkadelic (or P-Funk), Kool and the Gang and even Stevie Wonder. Disco owes its life to Funk and Funk owes its acceptance to Sly Stone and James Brown.

Look further into Sly and The Family Stone, you won’t be sorry. I admit his Greatest Hits get’s your body groovin’, but the hidden gems are the songs that got no air time, and even the songs that never made it to an album.

Check the new box set out, you won’t be sorry.  Grab it on Amazon, don’t take a short-cut and just get the music. You NEED the book that comes with it. The images and the biographical information about each song is priceless.

Sly and The Family Stone Box Set – Higher

I never intended to write Sly and the Family Stone Higher! Review I discovered it at my local library and had to have it. So if funds are tight for you, I get that. I would totally check out your local library! Mine had this! But then it was so awesome I had to buy it anyway.

About the Author:

Jen Kehl is a 40-something chick, who has finally come to terms with the fact that she is still a deadhead music freak trapped in side the body of someone’s mother. She often finds herself stuck in the 70′s with the all of the rainbows and unicorns.  She blogs at My Skewed View and created the music site Raised on the Radio, where she’s tricked a bunch of awesome writers into sharing their music experiences with you. She is also a published author as part of the anthology The Mother of All Meltdowns available on Amazon.

Connect with her on twitter @jenkehlFacebook, and Google+.


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You Thought They Said What? The Sadder But Wiser Girl Spills It.

you thought they said what dots

My good friend Sarah, from The Sadder But Wiser Girl was kind enough to humiliate herself for our pleasure. I asked her to share they lyrics of a song she has sung wrong all of these years, and she happily obliged. The song?

Jet Airliner by The Steve Miller Band

 steve miller band jet airliner
J: So Sarah, do tell, what was it you thought they were singing? 
S: Well Jen, I thought they were singing “Big old Jeb had a lighthouse…”
J: What did you think those lyrics meant or did you just go with it?
S: I just went with it. Maybe big old Jeb did have a lighthouse.
J: Do you know the actual lyrics? 
S: Big old jet airliner, don’t carry me too far away…
J: When did you realize that you’d had it wrong all along?
S: I think when I saw the song on Twisted Mixtape Tuesday. Yeah, I’m slow like that.
J: Uhm, Sarah, that was just a few months ago.
J: Did you ever sing the wrong lyrics in public, you know, in front of someone? 
S: Probably.
J: What happens when you hear the song now? 
S: I just start giggling and can’t stop.
J: Sarah, thanks for baring your innermost soul and sharing this embarrassing moment with us.
S: My pleasure. Now please ask your readers to go visit my blog.
J: Will do.
Sarah Almond “The Sadder But Wiser Girl” is a mom of two children and is married to an evil genius. Suffering from ADD, Anxiety, and a phobia of washing dishes by hand, she blogs to save the world from boringness. Though she is college educated, she would gladly trade her degree in for something useful, like a cheese sandwich. Find her at The Sadder But Wiser Girl
*I’d like to thank Linda of Elleroy Was Here for coming up with this fun idea. Feel free to share yours in the comments!