Sunday, March 23, 2014

Do you sing to the radio?

I’ve often jokingly said that sometimes I wish I could forget all those great rock and roll song lyrics so I could have room in my brain for learning something new. You know those songs I am talking about; those “feel good” songs from the hallways of our memories that still brighten our day when we hear them. If you were to ask me to sing the song by myself, there is no way I could get past the refrain, but if you play the song, I can sing along every word of every verse.

Left: Merrilee Rush A couple of weeks ago, Sydney Patterson posted a video of an interview she did with me earlier this year. During the interview she edited in a “B roll” of me at the audio console during one my shows. Sure enough, as soon as I turned off the microphone and took my headsets off, I was singing along with the song on the air. That is so typical of my studio time. But it isn’t just me, or my generation. That “feel good” music crosses over space and time. Last Monday, the duo that follows me on the air broke out in song with me to the tune of “Angel Of The Morning” by Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts. Despite the almost 50 years age difference between the three of us, there we were, belting the words out at the top of our lungs. We definitely would not have won any “Grammys” if someone had recorded us, but we really had a good time with that song.

Reflecting on that, I realized that I seldom hear them, or any of the other college students I am around, sing along with the songs they play on the radio. But “Angel Of The Morning” was not an unique instance of them singing along to the oldies. Interesting, is there something special about the songs from the “AM Oldies” era? Do I sing along with the songs that my Mom and Dad heard on their dates? “They’ll be Blue Birds over the White Cliffs of Dover. La la la la la.” Not really. I am familiar with a lot of them, especially the “war years” songs from the Second World War. But I don’t sing along more than just a few words.

To me it seems that the top 40 songs from ‘52 through about ’75 fall into a memorable and sing-able category all of their own. Even the songs about lost love, seem to have an upbeat tempo and a certain feel to them; even the teen-aged tragedy songs. In particular the songs before the British Invasion have this quality. Even today, new covers of these old songs are very popular with the young crowd. This has not been lost on many of the Indie artists, who seem to turn out covers left and right. Many of these covers sound very good, especially the ones that don’t try to bring in too many modern interpretations.

This made me wonder if it was the music or the listener. I know this is all anecdotal, but I have been studying my fellow commuters at stop lights as I drive into the city for work. I saw a lot of people talking on their cell phones, some even texting, which is illegal in my city. But it seems that only drivers of a certain age were singing along with their music. Yes, you can tell if they are singing or talking; it’s the look of joy and happiness on their faces. They are having a good time. It is a far cry from those who are yelling at the presenters and their guests on the talk radio stations. I’ll take the joy over the anger any day.

When I get really lucky, I can tell what kind of music they are playing on their radio. Every now and then it is classic country, or even R&B, but most of the time the music blaring from the speakers is good old Rock and Roll, old school style. I take it back, I don’t want to empty my brain of the old song lyrics, they are part of my memories; the memories that make my life a good one. I still have room to store the new stuff I learn every day. Oh MY!

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