Raised on the Radio

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


13 Comments

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


2 Comments

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!”


Leave a comment

I Wanted My Own Bitchin’ Camero

 camero

 

It’s the mid 1980s. Bands like REO Speedwagon, Foreigner and Wham! ruled the charts. But there’s an underground movement bubbling up — punk rock.

Listening to my Sony Walkman late at night, the local college station would spin strange songs and bizarre artists. Sometimes, the songs were so awful my ears hurt. Other times, the music seemed plain boring and vanilla. But some magical nights, the DJ was speaking directly to me.

One evening while laying in my bed, staring out at the darkness, two sarcastic whiney voices popped through the headphones. A walking bass played in the background while these kids just shot the breeze, making fun of Motley Crue and talking about nothing of importance. What kind of song was this?

Then suddenly, the tone of the song changed. Fast guitar. Banging drums. Staccato voice. The Dead Milkmen’s Bitchin’ Camero took over. Welcome to punk rock.

Check out Bitchin’ Camero. The song takes a crazy turn around minute #2. Although Bitchin’ Camero was The Dead Milkmen’s breakout song, their most popular tune by far is Punk Rock Girl.

The Dead Milkmen introduced me to the idea that music could be irreverent, sarcastic, silly and funny for the sake of just being fun. Songs didn’t have to be about love. They didn’t have to have a deeper meaning. Bands could inspire and move an audience with their acerbic wit and raw musicality.

About the Author:

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.


1 Comment

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


3 Comments

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.


3 Comments

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!