This week, during one of my radio shows, I heard myself utter one of my favorite tag lines: “Here is another great ‘Feel Good’ song for you.” I have been saying that on the radio for a long time because it just felt right, but I had not put too much thought into it. So I began to ponder (don’t you just love that word, ponder) why do so many oldies make you feel good.
Left: The Fleetwoods It certainly isn’t the lyrics. Take for example “Endless Sleep” by Jody Reynolds, Don Gibson’s “Sea of Heartbreak”, “Moody River” by Pat Boone or “Tragedy” by the Fleetwoods, all lyrically deal with the loss of love or the near loss of love. But when you listen to them, you are not brought down. When these songs are on the air, I usually turn the control room monitors up and wail along with the singers at the top of my voice. The words are real downers but the melody and the delivery by the artists are definitely on the lighter side and positive. These great old songs make me smile as much as “Wolverton Mountain” by Claude King when I shout out “Her Lips are Sweeter than Hooo – ney!” But wait, he is singing about climbing a mountain to fight an old man for the hand of his daughter.
Left: Train I hate to sound like just another person of a certain age rebelling against anything new or modern. I have nothing against new or modern, I have a lot of new, modern things and I enjoy the opportunity that these things offer. For example, I would not be the owner of an internet radio station or be able to pack 10,000+ songs into the control room of a local FM radio station to do an “oldies” show if it weren’t for computers. Nor do I dislike all new songs, for example, I really dig “Angel in Blue Jeans” by Train, which was released just last June. When I play “Angel” there I am, doing the DJ Air Chair Behind Boogie. So this is really not an old versus new thing.
Could it be that I have been enjoying the older songs longer and have gotten to love them more because of all the memories that I have associated with hearing them. I admit that has a possibility, but I seriously doubt it. I think it is more about the construction of the song with a strong backbeat and a melody or “hook” that makes me get into the performance more. A certain progression of chords and the notes that run counterpoint over them just makes me feel good. I have to wonder if some enterprising music student has proposed a doctorial dissertation on what makes music happy. I must laugh because most graduate level students I run into these days are all into electronic music. I have to say that I have never had the urge to bounce my bottom in a chair listening to that particular genre.
Maybe there is no real answer to what makes someone happy when listening to music, or what kind of music makes someone happy for that matter. Maybe each music lover has “their” music; Rock and Roll, Blues, Americana, Folk, Country, Rockabilly or Bluegrass. The music that floats their boat or as the Hughes Corporation would like to say “Rocks the Boat.”
So the happy conclusion to this soliloquy is that every mother’s child on this earth has a genre of their own, one that brings a smile to their lips and a song to their throat when they hear “their” music. So tomorrow morning, I’ll turn the microphone off and the monitors way up and wear out the control room “air chair” as I drive the young folks down the hall in the newspaper office a little bit crazy. Ain’t life just grand! Oh MY!