Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Radio: Crap On the Radio

By the time new wave rockers like Elvis Costello showed up in the late 70's, commercial radio stations were run by middle manger types beholden to distant suits at corporate headquarters. Disc jockeys were losing the power to play what they wanted so disco and "corporate rock" ruled the radio.

That meant the most exciting music getting made... wasn't getting played. 

As Elvis C. sang in "Radio, Radio": 

Radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools

Here's what a few more new wavers had to say about radio

Cos he can play crap on the radio
You can play crap on the radio
Be careful what you say
And you can play shite all day
You can play crap on the radio

 -Stiff Little Fingers "You Can't Say Crap On the Radio"

It's just the same old show on my radio
It's just the same old show on my radio
It's just the same old show on my radio
It's just the same old show on my radio

-The Selecter "On My Radio"

Who listens to the radio?
Who listens to the radio?
That's what I'd like to know
Who listens to the radio?

-The Sports

And from the one guy who did have a big radio hit, a different perspective:

Don't you know you can't get near me
You can only hope to hear me
 on your radio On your radio
You're gonna hear me on your radio.

-Joe Jackson

Monday, May 5, 2014

Radio: Midnight Radio

Dar Williams: "Midnight Radio"

As a middle-school youngster, I used to listen to Harry Chapin’s Greatest Stories Live like an addict—sometimes multiple times per day. The second track, “W.O.L.D.,” was never my favorite on the album, but that didn’t stop me from memorizing every word of it by heart. Regardless, fellow poster Retropath has already contributed more commentary about the song that I would have, so I’ll move on to another radio tribute.

“Midnight Radio” is a song from the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, written by Stephen Trask. The version above was first covered by pop-folk artist Dar Williams a decade after Hedwig’s premiere as the penultimate track on her 2008 album Promised Land. It’s a moving song of reminiscence for those who have sentimental emotional memories of feeling connected with the world in a new way because of the radio (which, it would seem, applies to most people who read and write about music).

The lyrics illustrate the narrator becoming a star vicariously through the strong female voices on the radio: “Here’s to Patti / and Tina / and Yoko / Aretha / and Nona / and Nico / and me.”