Monday, February 07, 2005

Sucking in the Seventies

What is it about 1970's radio? Lately I have been bombarded with
those bastions of K-Tel, Jim Croce and Cher, and I have been
(to borrow from the evil McD's) loving it! And it's not just the
insipid nostalgia involved (though that plays a part, I'll admit.)
What is it about this decade--at the time it seemed so hostile and
unsettling--that allows us to see it now through the rose-tinted
glasses of warm remembrance?

Well, for one thing, the music was better. We actually had Top 40
radio, and aside from the occasional Paul Anka song, it didn't suck.
You could hear out and out genius like the Beatles or Marvin Gaye,
followed by one-hit wonders like Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show,
followed by country gems by Tanya Tucker, followed by
WTF-are-they-doing-on-pop-radio classics like "The Lord's Prayer"....
well, you get the idea. No more. The geniuses of today are (with
apologies to Conor Oberst) mostly toiling in obscurity, and music
of and for the masses is segregated worse than a Bill O'Reilly

I wonder how "the kids" find the music anymore. How do they
know where to look? Where do you hear something new? Is there still
that thrill of discovery, that rush you got from hearing something
really cool for the first time, that classic "summer" song you heard
from May to September, that song that made you want to get in
your car, roll down the windows and rush headlong into the night
with the radio blasting?

It's not quite the same sampling a download on your iPod. There's
not the sense of shared discovery, of knowing that though you
may be alone in your room, there are thousands out there
like you also hearing this great thing for the first time at the
exact same time you are. And ironically enough, this incredible
diversity, this vast selection that we have nowadays really seems to
do nothing so much as push people farther and farther apart
as the "mainstream" disappears and everyone retreats into his or her
own favorite genre. There will be no more Elvis Presleys, no more
Michael Jacksons.

And what about the thrill of going into your favorite record store and
discovering some new band, meeting a new friend, hearing
a great new tune? The excitement of waiting for the
release of a brand new single or album by your favorite artist?
Saving your money, waiting for the store to open, rushing
down after school and standing in line, then rushing home to
put the record on your turntable? Sneaking a listen with your
headphones when your parents thought you were asleep?

What of all that?

Well, it's gone, and it's never coming back. And that's a big,
big loss my friends, no matter how cool the gadgets are.
At the time, the Seventies really sucked. Nixon. Gas lines. Vietnam.
Watergate. Energy crisis. Farrah Fawcett. Yeah, they were all
pretty darn putrid.

But man, was the radio cool.

No comments:

Post a Comment