Raised on the Radio

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

hard days hard nights review


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Ever wish you were a concert promoter?

I know I wish it EVERY. DAY.

I usually write about music here, and everything else over at my other site. But today I wrote a book review for an amazing story over on JenKehl.com you HAVE to read it!

He even has an insider view on Sly and the Family Stone, I wish I read his perspective before I wrote my review on the boxed set.

The story of Pat DiCesare, Pittsburgh legend, and their first concert promoter. You don’t want to miss this story!

Hard Days, Hard Nights: Stories From Pittsburgh’s First Concert Promoter

hard days hard nights review


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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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]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”