Monday, July 27, 2015

GREAT Songs Ruined by Radio

On July 6th of this year, I wrote a blog called A Stream Runs Through It. I created a sidebar called, Great Songs Ruined by Radio. I've now gotten feedback from several people, so I thought I'd feature it this week. (For me, several people = a go in this stage of my blog writing.) Anyway, If you didn't read that blog, I asked everyone, to think of great hit songs that you once loved that have been ruined for you by overplay, year after year on commercial radio.

So, from several people, Google searches and many years of being in a car, I started a bullet list with no rankings or general order of once great but overplayed songs. As the list emerged, it was clear that I was editing out songs that were definitely overplayed, but in my personal opinion, were not great and often just terrible. I'm talking about big 70's - 80's hits from groups like Boston, Foreigner and Journey that followed many of the 60's groups. Rock 'n roll has alway had its share of second tier acts, but let's just say, for a tail-end boomer, my musical crap gauge was developed in the 70's. So please don't get hurt feelings, if you came up with, More Than A Feeling by Boston. In fact, it may be irritating that classic rock radio ruined, Stairway To Heaven for everyone, but it's a far greater crime to be in the supermarket and forced to listen to Journey's, Don't Stop Believin' for the billionth time. Anyway, this is why one writes a blog, to share their own opinion and this week, it's about greatness diminished by satiation.

So here's my current list (that I will periodically update) with the great songs and artist's who recorded them. Note, I won't be creating a linked playlist this week because I (and possibly you) don't want to hear these songs anymore, okay maybe Satisfaction again in a few more years. My suggestion for the week is to listen to deeper cuts by these same wonderful people or musicians that are new to you. Also, start listening to community radio (see radiofreeamerica.com) and the sounds of fresh air.

GREAT Songs Ruined by Radio 
  • Stairway to Heaven, Led Zepplin
  • Hotel California, The Eagles  
  • Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones 
  • Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison
  • Light My Fire, The Doors 
  • Proud Mary, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Ike and Tina Turner
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours, Stevie Wonder
  • Hey Jude, The Beatles 
  • For What It's Worth, Buffalo Springfield
  • Happy Together, The Turtles
  • Layla, Eric Clapton 
  • Respect, Aretha Franklin
  • Summer Breeze, Seals & Crofts 
  • Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen 
  • Heart of Gold, Neil Young 
  • Heard It Through The Grapevine, Marvin Gaye 
  • Magic Man, Heart 
  • I Love Rock 'n Roll, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  • Sultans of Swing, Dire Straits 
  • Won't Get Fooled Again, The Who 
  • Here Comes the Sun, The Beatles (Submitted by my wife, Mary Kit. But here's the thing even though I've included several Beatles songs myself here; The Beatles are a rare exception in that, after all these years, many people still never tire of even their top hits.)
  • Take It Easy, The Eagles 
  • Oh, Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison
  • Southern Man, Neil Young (Sorry but the rebuttal, Sweet Home Alabama by Lynard Skynyrd was a hit and overplayed, but not great) 
  • Owner of a Lonely Heart, Yes
  • My Girl, The Temptations 
  • Your Song, Elton John
  • California Dreamin', The Mamas And The Papas 
  • What A Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
  • Ramblin' Man, The Allman Brothers Band
  • Let It Be, The Beatles 
  • Maybe I'm Amazed, Paul McCartney 
  • Imagine, John Lennon 
  • Money, Pink Floyd
  • Daniel, Elton John 
  • American Pie, Don McLean
  • Rhiannon, Fleetwood Mac 
  • Hungry Heart, Bruce Springsteen
  • Evil Woman, Electric Light Orchestra 
  • Reelin' In The Years, Steely Dan 
  • Doctor My Eyes, Jackson Browne 
  • Jump, Van Halen
  • Sara Smile, Hall and Oates
  • Billie Jean, Michael Jackson 
  • Rock This Town, The Stray Cats 
  • (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay, Otis Redding
  • Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen 
  • My Guy, Mary Wells
  • Boys of Summer, Don Henley
  • Start Me Up, The Rolling Stones
  • Rock The Casbah, The Clash
  • Burning Down The House, Talking Heads 
  • I Melt With You, Modern English
  • Solsbury Hill, Peter Gabriel
  • Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), Green Day
  • Losing My Religion, REM 
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana 
  • Babylon, David Gray
  • Home, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (Submitted by my step-daughter, Abby. Now what's interesting about this song is that I had to look it up on YouTube and play it. Now once I heard it, I recognized it and yes, a good song overplayed to death. I just had to laugh at myself as I keyword searched "overplayed songs" from the last several years as I couldn't recognize one song from reading the titles. Maybe I've just saved myself a lot of frustration by drastically limiting my listening to commercial radio in the last five years. Thank you KPBS/NPR and Jazz88.3 in San Diego!)
  • Rolling In The Deep, Adele 
  • I Will Wait, Mumford & Sons
  • Let It Go, Idina Menzel (as a consumer, Disney hits you on so many fronts and as a grandparent, I can't take this song anymore!)

Monday, July 20, 2015

1970

In 1970, I was a 15 year-old freshman in high school with the world in front of me. From the sidelines, I watched the hippies lined up by the 101 to hitch-hike, the Vietnam war live on TV and listened to all the wonderful music. We took the music for granted at the time, as the industrial revolution was beginning to crumble, rock 'n roll was our biggest cultural industry. American music (with a little help from the Brits) did more for democracy than Nixon's flag pin would ever do. As James Taylor sang four years later,
Cause tennis shoes, and rhythm and blues
Are second generation
All across the nation, now,
And mama knows,
Papa too rock 'n roll is music,
Rock 'n roll is music, now.

Music wise, the 70's were going to build off the 60's and it was all going to start with the break-up of the best band of all-time, The Beatles. 1970, among many things, was the year of the solo album and again the Beatles would lead the pack in that department too. All four Beatles had solo albums plus movies, soundtrack credits and yes of course, Let It Be.

I started this blog after seeing this Wikipedia article called, 1970 in music. You have to go to this link now because it sets up my YouTube Playlist for this week. The events (including Janis Joplin's and Jimi Hendrix's deaths) and albums created by such gifted people are simply astounding. For me, I clearly remember two conflicting thoughts. One, I wished that I was 18, ("To be on your own, with no direction home"), to be free of my parent's world. And two, I was just lucky enough to be too young to be drafted for the war. I actually lived the Wonder Years, a tail-end boomer just old enough to take it all in. I was an outside spectator who wanted in. Enjoy my mix (link w/release dates & notes), (I keep adding more by the hour) released from January-December, 1970.





Monday, July 13, 2015

Mary Jane's Last Dance

I woke up Saturday morning thinking I'd never seen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert and that I'm going to make that a priority for the future. I then starting singing Mary Jane's Last Dance in my head all day, and that always tells me, "there's a blog in there somewhere."

People have different theories on what the song is about. Many think the song is about weed or drugs, but I think it's about Tom's experience with Microsoft Windows (just kidding). The band's official video of the song kind of turns the whole thing upside down with a creepy Weekend at Bernie's theme going on. I think that video is just Tom and the boys having a little fun with us all. The song, as band member Mike Campbell says, "could also just be a goodbye love song." Well, that's always been my interpretation as I tend to lean heavily towards 'love lost' songs. But, I'll save that talk and Don Henley's Boys of Summer (also co-written by Mike Campell), for another day.

I love the beat and guitar riffs in Mary Jane's Last Dance, by one of the best bands, the Heartbreakers, but the lyrics and chorus harmony just knock me out.

Mary Jane's Last Dance

She grew up in an Indiana town
Had a good-lookin' mama who never was around
But she grew up tall and she grew up right
With them Indiana boys on them Indiana nights

Well, she moved down here at the age of eighteen
She blew the boys away, was more than they'd seen
I was introduced and we both started groovin'
She said, "I dig you baby, but I got to keep movin' on
Keep movin' on"

Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin' in and I'm tired of this town again

Well, I don't know, but I've been told
You never slow down, you never grow old
I'm tired of screwin' up, tired of going down
Tired of myself, tired of this town

Oh, my my, oh, hell yes
Honey, put on that party dress
Buy me a drink, sing me a song
Take me as I come 'cause I can't stay long

Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin' in and I'm tired of this town again

There's pigeons down on Market Square
She's standin' in her underwear
Lookin' down from a hotel room
Nightfall will be comin' soon

Oh, my my, oh, hell yes.
You got to put on that party dress
It was too cold to cry when I woke up alone
I hit my last number and walked to the road

Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin' in and I'm tired of this town again

And now, a live concert video of the band performing, Mary Jane's Last Dance, one of my all-time favorite songs along with a longing to see these guys live myself, singing this song.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Stream Runs Through It

This past May, I visited my pal Bill DeVoe at his home in Wilder, Idaho (population about 1000). This is a fifty-minute car ride from Boise. Anyway, he has his truck and kitchen radio tuned to Radio Boise KRBX, a community radio station which also streams its programming on the Internet at radioboise.us/stream/.

During my stay, I got hooked by the eclectic variety of music coming from the various community DJ's on Radio Boise. I was surprised to be hearing such wonderful diverse music all the while surrounded by alfalfa, wheat and hops fields. Every morning we would take a walk next to the network of water irrigation channels running through all these fields. We would then come back and Radio Boise was on during breakfast and sometimes in the evening. I was in a different place and simply enjoying my new surroundings. I couldn't tell you one song I heard there, but the beauty is that the music had become a part of my overall positive experience while in Idaho.

This trip got me thinking about how important it is to get out of our routine and be a part of another routine for at least a short while. And if you can't physically get away, try something small and new out of your routine. One little suggestion is to stop listening to your same radio stations and even your personal music collection and simply, step out of your musical box.

Here is a fun musical exploration to do just that, try Radio Free America.

"Radio Free America is the FREE online / mobile platform for public radio (college, independent and non-commercial / educational stations) and their DJs / Program Hosts - along with the listeners and the contributors that make up the broader community. We provide not only the streams, but essential tools and services - free of charge - to optimize the radio experience for all users and stations. Our cloud-streaming and cloud-storage environment supports and enhances public radio stations, allowing them to preserve and distribute the innovative content served up in this, the last bastion of unencumbered free form radio." From - About Radio Free America

Currently, I'm in my hometown of Santa Maria, California and visiting with another old pal of mine, Paul Hobbs. I'm telling Paul about this blog and I asked him to provide me a song title I want to include here about me being 60 years old and having heard the same classic rock song, far too many many times. I said give me a good example of a great song you once loved, but radio has forever killed it for you. He said, "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison. So true, within earshot, my mind just wants to block out that song. We humans can only take so much saturation of the same thing, but yet that is what we are fed on the commercial airwaves.

So I would like to start a little sidebar here called, Great Songs Ruined by Radio.

Now, think of a song that you once loved that has been ruined for you by overplay, year after year on radio. Please write it in the comments section below if you like or send me an email at dgmcintosh@gmail.com with the subject line - Great Songs Ruined by Radio. I will collect a list and present in a future blog with the same title.

One of mine is, Won't Get Fooled Again by the Who. Damn you KGB-FM. I'm not just talking about in your car where you have control, but at the grocery store, the mall, or at the stop light from some baby boomer's car with the windows rolled down - "pick up my guitar and play just like yesterday."

I'll leave you with Radio Boise's piece on Why is Community Radio Important?  Here is an excerpt -

"There is almost a limitless amount of music that’s been recorded in the world, yet most of it doesn’t get heard.

up and down the radio dial, most stations are owned by highly- consolidated media organizations – many suggest that it’s 7 corporations (CBS, Time Warner, Clear Channel, Disney, Comcast, News Corp, Viacom) that direct most of the public media we consume every day. talk about ultimate control of content and discourse. at RadioBoise, DJs shape the tone of their shows independently around the loose guidelines of providing sounds that are more like a unique gems than overplayed sameness that exists on other stations.

The internet provides vast means in which you can entertain your ears, most of which at their root are computer programs. When human beings program a show to share on the airwaves, the idea is that a warmth and personality is communicated with awareness of our communities’ nuances that the automated mechanisms cannot provide. That is one definition of community. The station’s goal is to make sure we’re filling a unique niche in music and local-interest programming that is refreshing, engaging, and helps expand our listeners perspective."