So I was about to go crank Little Feat, and I changed my mind and started playing the Who, who I just love. I’m a bit tuned up on scotch and mojitos, so just bear with me. I started playing Eminence Front, which always makes me think of growing up in Bethany, WV and the years I spent as a disc jockey. I remember getting my FCC license when I was 14, and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. I worked for the college radio station, and along with the shows I did on my own, I was the engineer for the three hour Ashbourne Hour, which was classic music with an English prof (John Taylor, who may have been my favorite person to ever live in Bethany), as well as a three hour Monday Night Oldies show wiuth John Graham, who was an icon on Pittsburgh radio during the hey-day of Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners. And I listened to them, and I learned tons.
But there were also random folks I learned from- our music director at WVBC at the time was a guy named Matt Mastrangelo. He was a fucking genius- I remember our playlists being the envy of everything in the tri-state area. I still laugh thinking about how the Red Hot Chilis and Julian Cope and the Cult all became smash hits.. after they had been on our playlists for a while. Mastrangelo was a fucking genius. Oh, and by the way, Matt Mastrangelo is now the publisher of Rolling Stone.
And then there was a guy from Wellsburg named Ric Smith. He was not affiliated with the college, but he loved music, so they always gave him a show. He loved the Who. I can honestly say he made me love the Who- between him and Timmy Graham, I bet I heard every Who and every Dire Straits album. All these guys were older than me, so you have to remember the kind of awe you held people who were 18-19 when you were 14. But at the same time, they treated me like an equal, because we loved music.
Ric Smith died about a decade ago from liver failure. Not because he was a drunk, but because he poisoned himself accidentally with tylenol. He was just sick as hell, and didn’t realize that tylenol was not safe. Fighting a fever killed him, basically.
So what was the point of this post? Well, nothing, I guess, other than that I doubt Ric, or Tim, or Matt, or any of the other people who helped to make me who I am musically had any idea the impact they were having on me. There is a good chance I would have loved music, but because of them, I love it more, know more, and it is part of who I am.
That’s the message. You’ll either understand it or you won’t. Play it forward.
Teenage Wasteland Baba O’Riley is playing now. Y’all are on your own.
Dude. It’s “Baba O’Reilly.” Put down the bottle.
Calling it “Teenage Wasteland” makes me think of drunken frat boys.
@Bobbo: @Mnemosyne: I occasionally wonder if there is a standard for spelling Celtic surnames. I speak as one with no Celtic blood period.
I was about to correct the name of the song, but I see I’ve been beaten to it.
I love it when John posts while he’s really hammered.
And yes, I love the Who. Tommy, Who’s Next, and Quadrophenia are one of the all-time great three-album runs in rock history.
@Mnemosyne: I’m so sorry to have ruined this whole post with that egregious mistake.
I’m going to suggest that any psychotherapist with a patient with narcissistic personality disorder immediately demand that their patient start a weblog and post their thoughts, because from personal experience, any delusions of grandeur will be shattered within three comments.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
I wish to request this be added to the rotating tag lines, or whatever they’re called.
So, other than leaping at the opportunity to correct a simple mistake, was there fucking anything in this post you found worthwhile?
As someone with a slight amount of Irish blood married to a guy who’s 3/4ths Irish, there sure doesn’t seem to be.
Part of the problem is that modern Irish (the language) uses the Roman alphabet, but the letters are pronounced differently. So something that’s spelled “Laoghaire” is pronounced closer to “Leary.” A lot of Irish-American names were spelled phonetically when immigrants met immigration officials.
Apparently all of the Celtic languages are like that. There’s a classic Michael Powell movie called I Know Where I’m Going where the name of one of the Scottish characters is pronounced “Katrina,” but it’s spelled “Catriona.”
It’s effed up, dude.
Life. She is good.
@John Cole: Not yet, but thank you for asking.
Well, if it makes you feel any better, someone corrected me in the very next comment, and I’m not even drunk.
Never worked in radio, but I do love the Who. I think we all dodged a bullet when the Keith Moon biopic starring Mike Myers fell through a few years ago.
Too true. Don’t worry. One constant of Who concerts is lots of people shouting “Play Teenage Wasteland!” Not too many people actually know the name of the song.
That opening guitar riff from “Down to the Waterline”–priceless.
I got my FCC license at 14 too, we had a radio station at our high school, only 500 watts, but in Sacramento, which sits on flat land, it pretty much covered the whole city.
Lot of fun, and got me into club djing as well.
@John Cole: I think the people with narcissistic personality disorder turn off the comments. Or become business and economics bloggers at the Atlantic.
@John Cole: Us commentators are auditors. Finding mistakes makes us happy. Although most auditors I meet aren’t really all that out loud snarky. Don’t take it personally. Your books otherwise look fine.
@cyntax: Now I need to go to YouTube for Dire Straits vids instead of bed. I will hold you personally responsible for the consequences.
The music that makes me nostalgic for good times and good friends in high school is Duran Duran and Depeche Mode, so slightly different eras, though IIRC we’re the same age (turning 43 this year).
@John Cole: I spent about 2 months as an overnight DJ. I about died of loneliness. So I’m just going to tip-toe out of this thread and let you audiophiles enjoy yourselves while I go listen to Katy Perry.
/ducks to avoid whiskey bottle
You pulled a Biden. The gaffe does not detract at all from your tribute to your musical mentors.
It’s all good. It’s only rock n roll…
I won an award for copyediting excellence at my college newspaper.
That may explain more about me that I really want people here to know.
I do apologize but can you imagine actually catching them on their way up in some tiny club in London?
I got to see Jane’s Addiction at a little place outside of Frankfurt that held a few hundred people. Would happily trade that experience for the Dire Straits equivalent.
Villago Delenda Est
While I share John’s fondness for The Who (Tommy in particular), I’ve been a Dire Straits fan since I first heard “Sultans of Swing” back in my dorm room in ’78. Or was it ’79? Somewhere in there.
One thing that was terrific was the totally over the top Ken Russel take on “Tommy”, featuring Ann Margaret engaging in obscene consumerism, bathing in baked beans. Then there was Oliver Reed, and Jack Nicholson displaying his vocal talents.
And of course Elton John. And Tina.
It is old school, but does anyone else hear a certain song and automatically anticipate the next song based on hours of listening to the same mix tape in their youth? 25 years later and I still can’t hear the ending of Baba O’Reilly without expecting Kashmir to kick in.
Villago Delenda Est
My only club experience with a noted band was a fantastic performance by The Proclaimers in Portland a few years back.
Otherwise, it’s all arenas and stadiums. McCartney and Wings in the Kingdome was as authentic as baseball there. Like being in a parking garage.
Safeco Field, much better.
@Villago Delenda Est:
Oliver Reed is one of my all-time favorite actors. He never really lived up to his talent since he was a little too fond of the bottle, but when he was good (like in The Devils), you couldn’t take your eyes off him.
He died as he lived — on a barstool while making a movie in a foreign country. At least it was a good one.
ETA from IMDb:
Polish the Guillotines
Who By Numbers, bitches. However Much I Booze for the win.
I’m a longtime lurker, but wanted to say I appreciate this post…not so much about music (though being a college DJ was excellent) but about mentoring kids more generally. I work as an urban planner in Seattle and working with interns the past two quarters has been one of the best aspects of my job this year. I got into this field because of a great mentor and it’s excellent to get to inspire others.
Thanks for hosting a great blog John!
Polish the Guillotines
Damn. Caught in the monkey-fudgin’ moderation purgatory.
Our senior class chose Teenage Wasteland as the official prom song, but the school officials nixed that. I think we threatened to go on strike. Wasn’t my favorite song, but it evokes strong and happy memories of the time.
@cyntax: I saw the Violent Femmes in a small club in Soho in ’84. A friend and I, dressed in 80’s college prep style, were trying to find the club where they were playing and ran into a group of full-on kick-the-shit-out-of-the-bourgeoisie punks who heard us talking about trying to find the club. Once they found out we had both seen the band before and were from the same general area (Wisconsin), they adopted us and we spent the evening with them. Interesting night. New people kept joining the group and asking who the posh yanks were.
@Villago Delenda Est:
Big venues are tricky. The Beasties at Oakland Arena was beyond awful. But the Chilis, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana at the Cow Palace was transcendental. But honestly, how bad could that show have been?
@Omnes Omnibus: Do you ever wonder if your life might just be a hair too interesting?
I was an odd kid. In high school I was into jazz. Still am in fact. Sarah Vaughn could sing me to sleep until the end of time.
@MattR: Totally agree about the mixed tapes. For me the next song is the Kinks.
Nice. I’ve seen the Femmes a few times at small venues over the years, but that was mid-90’s on; they never failed to deliver the goods. Very tight, very energetic set every time.
Medium-size, outdoor venue (Alpine Valley, IIRC): Mojo Nixon, the Pogues, and the Violent Femmes.
I still have the t-shirt.
@MattR: Unfortunately, that’s “Gloria” followed by “Heat of the Moment” (really kind of the same song) and other things I thankfully don’t hear any longer. (filed under: my mix tape teens almost got me killed in College)
@Yutsano: Nah, we never did head to Brixton in the gypsy cab driven by the dude with dreads in order to get opium. People used to ask how I met my ex, who is originally from Romania, and I would say that I won her in a card game in Mombasa. Of course, this wasn’t true; the game was in Paris.
“so you have to remember the kind of awe you held people who were 18-19 when you were 14”
That’s not how it went down for me. I was starting to listen to punk, the 18-19 year olds (I think of them now as the band camp kids) couldn’t hear it as music.
“They are just jumping up and down and screaming, they don’t even know how to play their instruments!”
There’s a world of difference between someone born in 1968 and someone born in 1971. I wouldn’t have wanted to be treated as their equals. I would rather be an outcast.
Ah, the Pogues. Almost take the same place in my heart as the Clash–neither of whom I got to see. Dammit.
Lost my Ramones t-shirt a good decade ago, bit of a shame that. T-shirts can be hard to hold on to; good on you for keeping track of that one.
Your Ric Smith wasn’t from Altoona, was he? I went to school in Tucson with a guy of that name.
@Omnes Omnibus: My dad bought my mom in a slave auction. He paid $45 for her in 1968, which was quite a sum for that time. What he didn’t know at the time was that he was continuing an old family tradition. My great-great grandfather and great-grandfather also purchased their spouses. This is why my genealogy is such a mishegas.
Paris is just as interesting as Mombasa. At least to me.
Dude, you do not get the satanic messages that way.
@John Cole: Seriously, I thought this was a heartfelt and lovely post. But a question, for you and everyone else here: doesn’t it seem like college radio is dying out? And, given what a major influence it’s been on some of us (me, our host), isn’t it a tragic loss? What is taking its place, as a place to discover new music?
We were sitting to one side of the stage and we could see Shane MacGowan lounging behind the stage, drinking a Heineken, when one of the other band members would take the lead vocals.
On the Femmes front, I could probably still sing their first album from beginning to end, I listened to it so many times. It gets into a very specific part of your brain when you’re about 15 or so.
Bonus Track: the Femmes cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. Presumably done as a response/thank you to GB’s cover of “Gone Daddy Gone.”
@cyntax: I saw Strummer with his first tour with the Mescaleros. They set up the stage with 3 mics across the front and a drum kit in back and half the show was Joe’s Clash songs. I was in fucking heaven.
@Omnes Omnibus: double dip… caught the B52’s and Pylon in a place out in Carrville in 81, before they became famous…I may have thrown up on Ricky Wilsons shoes between sets….
I don’t think college radio is dying out if you’re listening via the net. I like KCRW but YMMV…
I was 18, but, yeah, start it out and I can finish it. Good feelings is possibly the greatest staying up all night song there is.
I never listened to college radio because I grew up with WXRT. It’s not what it once was, sadly, but in the glory days of the 70s and 80s, it had the most eclectic playlist ever. They would play “Girlfriend in a Coma” and “Body and Fender Man” back to back. The Clash followed by Coco Taylor. Etc.
Bonus Track: the Femmes cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. Presumably done as a response/thank you to GB’s cover of “Gone Daddy Gone.”
Ah, now that’s just good times that is.
I was in fucking heaven.
Too right. Well, I shall go have drink for that lovely bastard, and there’s always the Dropkick Murphy’s when the whiskey angers up the blood…
Third verse, same as the first.
@Mnemosyne: XRT, Damn. I listen to UW-Madison’s station, WSUM, quite a bit. Like most college radio, it depends on the DJ, but it is useful for staying in touch with the latest music out there.
Cole! Play “Gettin’ in Tune”. That’s the best “Who” song for a Friday night drunkening! Google it, fuckers! Do people still “google it”? Do people still say “comma fuckers”?
I swear to God I remember hearing this song on XRT. They may even have played it from the 78 since this was the pre-CD 1980s.
@Mnemosyne: I would say it is possible. The interesting thing about XRT is that my dad was a fan when it started out and I became a fan later. At their best, they play good music without giving a fuck about fashion or genre.
@Mnemosyne: You can never grow out of it, apparently.
I just found a YouTube video labeled “The Dresden Dolls and friends play The Violent Femmes.”
I must hear Amanda Palmer channel Gordon Gano, like, now. Good night, all.
ETA: Since the video starts with a ring girl carrying a title card that says “Side One,” I’m guessing I may not be the only one who has the album memorized.
The fake story sounds better with Mombasa. Trust me. I have used variations. Mombasa is the shizznit for stories about winning women in card games. God knows I love Paris (I do, really, I do – I want to go now, before everything gets dull in August), but one has to use the location that works for the story.
@Mnemosyne: This thing exists? Link now!
Sorry, forgot linky:
ETA: Yes, I watched for almost 10 minutes before I realized I’d forgotten the linky. It’s like sitting in your bedroom with your coolest friend singing along to the album (at least until your parents yell at you to turn it down and you roll your eyes at each other and obey).
@Mnemosyne: Thank you. Bed now. Will catch it in the a.m. When Good Feelings ends, I go. G’ Night all.
I completely get it, John.
As it was explained to me, we Celts love our letters, so much so that we want to carry plenty of spares around just in case. My Galway-born paternal grandfather had 9 letters in his last name until he reached Montreal, when they allowed him only a bare 5, and it didn’t change the pronunciation at all!
The literary critic Hugh Kenner had a wonderful essay about literary ‘appropriation’ and how a certain Prince of Denmark ended up with such an un-Nordic moniker. Apparently the Irish monks had an old folktale about a Scandinavian king where they spelled ‘Olav’ as ‘Aiolaebh’. French monks later transcribed that as ‘Amlett’ (handwriting being more art than science), and when the tale wandered across the Channel that playwright dude stuck an ‘H’ at the front for copyright purposes…
You see, I’ve learned my lessons. And I don’t even want to hear about your confessions.
BEST. POST. HEADLINE. EVER.
I’ll just throw this out there. (i love the singers voice, and the lyrics aint half bad/go along with the thread)
Four fucking am and I can’t sleep. Something about a memorial service for and old friend today made my eyes pop open.
I am thankful for this place… made a post on Pierce’s blog and had two posters actually ask me for proof regarding the existence of GOP jobs bills…. I wanted to facepalm I was so incredulous
Evolving Deep Southerner
@cyntax: WKNC Raleigh, 88.1 FM. The Revolution will not be televised, but you can catch it on the radio.
Evolving Deep Southerner
@Raven: Such ceremonies will do it to a man sometimes.
@John Cole: Yeah, Cole. You love the music I love from the days of my teens and twenties. Saw The Who at Madison Square Garden in 74. We were up in the nosebleeds but it was awesome.
I saw Little Feat at the now demised St. Pete Bayfront Center during the summer of 78. They were touring in support of Waiting for Columbus and we managed to get down to the SRO area about 10 feet from the stage. So tight and together, so funky. Richie Hayward and Kenny Gradney were the magic backbone and Lowell’s voice was smooth as could be. The opening act was The John Hall Band, he previously of Orleans and eventually to become an activist and a Congressman. And his percussionist, Jody Linscott went on to play for many years with The Who.
Saw Dire Straits in a small converted movie theatre in 79. “Sultans of Swing” was a huge hit. They played every song they knew, including “Twisting By the Pool.” They played a couple of songs twice because they ran out of material and the audience wouldn’t leave until they played some more. (Oh yeah, the warm up band was The Ramones.)
Those were the days.
Off to Mountain Jam in Hunter, NY today to meet up with my oldest friend in the world. Great to be 55 and have a friend who’s been like a brother for well over 50 of those years. We went to our first concert together–Yes in 1972. And still find time–no we make the time now because you never know when you won’t be able to anymore–to go see live music a couple of times a year together. Gov’t Mule is the headliner tonight, tomorrow it will be Steve Winwood. Many other great acts in between.
@Evolving Deep Southerner: Yea, this is up on his place in north of Elberton. The family lives in Charlotte and he’s being laid to rest on his beloved land.
@RosiesDad: Saw Lil Feat in Champaign in 76 and caught Windwood two summers ago with Santana. It was the first time I’d seen Santana since Sept 4, 1969, the day after I came home from Vietnam. I had never heard of him, we dropped the purple mescaline my SF homeboy scored and went to Winterland.
Bet this guy’s pissed.
I saw a news article that the guy who did the voice of Gumby died and realized that I had no idea what Gumby sounded like. Found him on YouTube and watched an episode. Apparently, I hadn’t seen him either. Don’t know how I missed him way back when.
So I had a new experience already today. Interesting little cartoon, by the way.
@Linda Featheringill: He was Speedy Alka Seltzer and a Campbell Soup Kid too. . .mmmm good mmmm good that’s what Campbell’s soup is mmmm goood. . .
@Raven: Don’t you look back sometimes and wonder how we made it from then to now?
Raven, you’re still here. Good.
I wanted to say sorry about the loss of your friend. It’s a bitch to watch folks drop by the wayside.
@RosiesDad: Ha, yea. Mickey Mantle said “If I knew I was gonna live this long I would have taken better care of myself”!
@Linda Featheringill: Thanks, I posted part of what his daughter wrote the night he died but, in case you missed it :
He was a ecology professor and a fierce defender of nature. He was also a Navy pilot in Vietnam. Amazing life.
I have narcissistic personality disorder (the mental disorder, not the pop-psychology one). And, to be sure, my blog is full of my long rants about how video games are art, science-fiction literary analysis, take-downs of media reports of scientific studies (one of the most egregious things ever), musings about my experiences performing stand-up comedy…
I have comments. I enjoy comments. The secret is forcing yourself to concede when you’re wrong, but never conceding when you know you’re right.
Plus, it helps when you don’t have trolls who just want to be bastards.
Living in Atlanta in the 70’s and 80’s (especially the 70’s) was a music lover’s dream because every band on tour had to come through the ATL airport. Since we’re here, let’s book a gig, right? Had third row seats at the Omni to see Little Feat open for Traffic in 76.
Best venue ever was a little 200-seat hole-in-the-wall called the Great Southeast Music Hall. Nobody in the place was more than 60 feet from the stage. Early-mid 70’s I was there nearly every week- Jimmy Buffet, Leo Sayer, Cheech and Chong… good times, man, good times.
And the Georgia State radio station had an old Cajun guy named Pigiron who did a daily show from 6-10am every weekday called Good Morning Blues. Never missed it… instrumental in teaching my dumb azz to appreciate the finer things in life.
@Raven: Sorry for you loss, Raven. May your friend be at peace.
@John Cole (#8):
Yes, the title and the expressed sentiment. But then I, too, have raging misanthropic tendencies.
I love The Who also, John, and there is one aspect of their career I always found interesting – I don’t think any other band released so many singles that were not from one of the studio albums, but were actual “singles”.
I was raised by wolves (Christian fundie immigrants), so I didn’t really discover music until after I graduated college. As a result, I have a very eclectic taste in music, ranging from pop to indie folk to trance to alt rock to punk to some heavy metal. In addition, I usually care more about lyrics than music, and good lyrics can be found in any genre. It’s weird, I know, but weird is my middle name.
Examples of groups/singers I like: Lowen & Navarro, The Indigo Girls, Apocalyptica, recent Eminem, P!nk, Bon Jovi, Tim Minchin (humorist), The Saw Doctors, The Clash, Duran Duran, Vienna Teng, and VNV Nation.
I, um, I like music, too
@Linda Featheringill: the tragedy is, you can never go back
you will never know Gumby, as i have known him
Best concert ever saw from the audience (certainly light years better than the concerts I used to emcee for a record company in the 70s) was Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Opening act was a then-unknown group named Yes.
Also a major who fan. Whenever I have doubts, I just listen to “Live at Leeds”
Especially this…any band ever caught in a better grove than they were at Leeds playing ‘Young Man Blues’ — all four of them absolutely on fire and hauling ass.
Young Man Blues
@NotMax: ok, i don’t have a concert story but i once worked with a lady from England who mentioned, casually one day, that she saw the Beatles live (not sure if in London, probably not) before they became big. she did recall lots of girls screaming, but she was too mature a young lady for that sort of thing and thought they were just silly.
i used to go around to my co-workers, “she saw the Beatles live in England!” i was just in awe of this otherwise rather conventional no-nonsense, Corgi enthusiast lady. co-workers tried to be nice but you could tell they are all like “wtf is wrong with her?” – they just didn’t get it.
oh, and i live in Redstate, USA, so there’s that.
(i used to sit in my brother’s room with his big ole headphones on, listening to his ELP album – i was into it)
i listened to it so much, i can still sing all the words to one of those songs, can’t remember the title, “i sent this letter hoping it will reach your hand . . .” , etc.
Not to toot the horn, but did see The Beatles live at Shea Stadium.
Was dragged to it, as a ticket became available when a relative got ill. Only had the vaguest of ideas of who they were; just knew that teen and pre-teen females went nuts when they were mentioned.
From our seats (although the sound was good) they looked like 4 ants on a stage. :)
I was in Menards last winter and in amongst their awful holiday music loop was Tommy’s “Christmas”…. I laughed and laughed. I still wonder whether some dope thought “Oooh! A song called ‘Christmas’! Perfect!” or if there was some subversion going on there…
And Tommy doesn’t know what day it is,
He doesn’t know who Jesus was or what prayin’ is.
How can he be saved?
From the Eternal Grave?
I never did see The Who (always been a huge fan)… the best I can do is Stevie Ray Vaughn’s last concert up in WI. It was him, Clapton and Robert Cray… SRV smoked those two. I still remember driving home in the zero-visibility fog that brought down their helicopter and my friend waking me up at 7am, soooo hungover.. “Dude, Stevie’s dead!” Crazy.
@Raven: Joe was a great guy. I didn’t know him well (I am an adjunct Physics instructor at the same university), but he was held in equal parts respect and fear by his students, many of whom would blow off work in my class because they had deadlines in his! His commitment to students was amazing—after having been diagnosed early in this semester, he insisted on completing the semester with his classes. He did it, too, when no one would have faulted him for stepping down. Truly amazing.
Kinda funny story–
Although I was still (but not for much longer) a teenager, I was busy working at a camp during that summer, and my parents (both born in the 1920s) were the ones who went to Woodstock.
Have yet to meet anyone of my age group who can say the same.
@Attaturk: Leeds was great, especially the part where Townsend created a duet with himself by playing off the echoes of his guitar.
We’ll be listening to Dire Straits on the road to Pittsburgh this morning. The missus and offspring aren’t ready for Cult “Electric” just yet. =)
Rock the house.
Ah! Memories. August 1968, the Who, Boston Music Hall. The audience didn’t know what hit them.
I’m a couple years older than John but he beat me across the finish line in the race for music awareness. In high school I limited myself to pretty much the AOR-format of the four (pretty good) big radio stations within range of my central Connecticut home. I moved to New York for college, where rock radio sucked big time. This was the fall of 1986.
The dearth of good radio coming from Manhattan meant turning to my own musical collection and that of the guys on my hall. The guy across the hall would be come my roommate the next year, and he opened me up to all the stuff I was missing in high school: the really deep cuts of bands like the Stones and The Who, but also the punk and alternative (née “college radio”).
Oh, the amazing mix tapes I created… Wish I still had them.
Neal was the audiophile who was an early-adopter CD buyer, and got me hooked on hi-fi, was also the guy who quickly realized that vinyl on a good turntable beat the shit out of CDs (especially that early, over-mastered shit at the time), and retreated in that direction. The portability and durability of digital held sway over me for years, but eventually I realized the same thing.
The rest of my college years and most of my twenties, I probably spent more money on music (stereo, CDs and vinyl and concerts) than I spent on food. Anywhere I ever lived, the first thing I unpacked was my stereo, and the rest of the apartment would be arranged around that pair of Snells.
All that fell by the wayside when I had kids. I’ve moved my turntable to three different homes I’ve owned, and never unpacked it in the last two. During some hard times a few years back I EBay’d off most of my equipment, but still have that Thorens platter and the Snells that anchored my system so long. I might need to get my ass on EBay and track down a cheap receiver/integrated amp and dig all that stuff out of the basement.
@Citizen_X: Hah! I still remember seeing one of these backwards-masking goobers on TV back in the day. Wish I could recall what song he used, but I’ll never forget the sounds it made when he spun it backwards (something on the order of “SaaaaMOOOOOVwah!”), and how this numbskull heard “Satan moves in our voices” from that. I remember thinking he was doing much better drugs than I was, a bold claim in those days.
@Comrade Scrutinizer: Ah, nice to hear from you. We worked with some folks at your institution a few years back concerning online education (which he hated!)
Mike in DC
@asiangrrlMN: I grew up in a house without the Beatles. I’m still thinking of having my parents charged with child abuse. And they don’t have an excuse, they listened to the Beatles when they were popular (although not enough to buy any of their albums).
Your comment also reminds me of a story Sarah Vowell tells of how she heard KISS for the first time in college, and trying to reconcile the fact that this band of candy pop rock could really be Satan’s little helpers. (I found a link to a version she wrote in ’96: http://www.sfweekly.com/content/printVersion/305320/)
I think it was Pete Townshend’s acoustic version of Won’t Get Fooled Again (from the secret policeman’s ball) that really showed me how much changing the instrumentation of a song could really change the meaning. On Who’s Next, I always interpreted it as a very angry song, and his acoustic version seemed to be far more sorrowful. It was something that always just stuck with me.
I hadn’t gone out just to see a band in ages until I went a couple of weeks ago to see The Real MacKenzies. Sort of like the Pogues or Dropkick Murphy, except with a Scottish influence more than Irish.
I did the college radio DJ thing for three years, and loved it. But was frequently shocked at how much work it took to do it right. Hours and hours of prep work for each show.
We were still a by far predominately record based radio station, with about 20 new shiny fangled CD’s on a special rack. The record companies were still shipping records though, and one magical day I opened a package from a label named “Sub-Pop” to find a half a dozen 45’s (remember those?! Loved them). On the A side of one, a band I’d never heard of: Soundgarden. On the B side, another bad I’d never heard of Nirvana.
And so began my flannel phase.
The only time I had an experience like that was when I saw Springsteen at a small theater in New Brunswick, NJ, in (IIRC) the fall of ’74.
Since you asked, John, yes there was much in this that resonated with me…
I used to crank up Eminence Front. My brother asked “m&m sprouts?” He had complete shit taste in music then, and probably does to this day, though I have not talked to him for years so I can’t say — he’s become one of those crazy-ass end-of-times nutters.
When I was 14 I was listening to The Doors and Rush more or less non-stop. The fabulously handsome older brother of my best friend dictated all music & clothing coolness standards for our little group of friends, we listened to what he listened to, and the boys wore what he wore. Anyway, fast-forward 14 years, and I had married & divorced the handsome older brother (made it only 4 years with the misogynist bastard) and our daughter was 5 or 6 — we were riding in the car listening to (my awesome) music, and she asked me “does your radio play country music?” Of course I said “no!” and “whose radio plays country music?!?!” She told me her dad’s radio played country music. The Doors and Rush dude had a wanna-be-country (from Northern CA, for dogs sake!) girlfriend who had him listening to country. Now he has joined the ranks of the insane, no longer a good little/big episcopalian boy, but rather a fundie country-music-loving pretend patriot. I still listen to Rush and The Doors. And my radio still does not play country.
And several months ago I wrote a condolence letter to someone from the long-ago-past. My mother had dated a very nice guy for several years when I was young, say 6-9 yrs old. He had a great job, and spent tons of money on music. One of his spare bedrooms was full of albums. I spent hours & hours in that room flipping through them, reading the liner notes, picking music out to listen to. This past xmas my husband & I had a project for gifts, I went to thrift stores and bought old albums, the tackier the better, or the awesome classics, and he routered them down to coaster-size, I put cork on & sealed them. My mother was heartbroken that I’d destroyed the Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’ Whipped Cream album and then recycled the album cover because she’d long ago thrown hers away. Anyway, what that had to do with the long-ago-guy… so many of the albums I flipped through at thrift stores, and many that I bought, were albums that I’d looked at in his spare bedroom, listened to in his little bachelor pad. So he was in the forefront of my mind as I did that project, and soon thereafter I was writing a letter about people we care about touching our lives in ways that live on forever…
My last contribution: I picked up a copy of “This is NPR — The First 20 Years” a couple of weeks ago. I used to have a lot of love for NPR before they went the way of CNN attempting to be centrist as an exercise in complete futility. But of course the book is about the first 20 years, which is before they went to shit and when they still had the greatest contributors ever. That book has some really interesting insight into the process of putting together their shows on a budget of nothing with almost no reporters. So far it’s interesting stuff, to say the least. Maybe NPR can put out books that sell enough copies so that they can give the middle finger to public funding and centrism and go back to being the old NPR that we knew & loved.
And yes, John, a blog is a great way to learn humility through regular public shaming events. Having children is another way to do that. But I would not recommend that for you, something I think you’ve already figured out on your own. Of course I say that with the greatest amount of love and affection.
Bill in Portland Maine
Fellow DJ/Program Director here (WGER, Saginaw, Michigan)
All this newfangled digital editing…meh. In my day we edited spots with a razor blade, and by the end of the day our fingers were a bloody mess, just gobs of red splotchy blood all over the Revox reel to reel machine and the carpet and we had Bandaids on all our fingers, and it was how we did things and WE LIKED IT!
And the AP machine didn’t pop up on a screen. It was a giant typewriter with giant keys that would crush your fingers if you got ’em in the way, and when news broke there were bells that went BONG BONG BONG and by the end of your airshift your ears would be bleeding and your fingers would be bleeding and crushed and that’s how it was and WE LIKED IT!
And we didn’t have that fancy “Sonex” on the walls in the studio, neither. We had swatches of old carpet that were full of dust and asbestos and glued on with industrial goo that was one of the most carcinogenic substances known to man and that’s the way it was and WE LIKED IT!
Radio days…good times.
I went there once, on my 19th birthday, it was ZZ Top, the Deguello tour (Cheap Sunglasses), about the last thing from them I liked. I lived in the Chicagoland (urg) area for a bit in late 70’s, and Wisconsin still had the 18 year drinking age. We stopped at every bar between the state border and the venue to have a beer, just because we could, and could not at home. My 30 year old son never understands now that no one seemed to think it was wrong to drink and drive in the olden days.
At the concert I got separated from my friend, and was wandering around blasted, and informing anyone I spoke to that it was my birthday. And everyone I told gave me something; wine, beer, booze, pot, acid, you name it, and each time I thanked nicely and took it. The green halter top I had on was purple afterwards from how much wine I had spilled down my front. Some nasty biker guy said he would help me but then thought help would consist of him fking me on the ground between some parked cars. I gave him a good kick and said it was my birthday, not his, and went my merry way.
I kept trying to find my friends, and didn’t know how I’d get back to the South Side from Alpine Valley. I was wasted enough that this did not seem scary. I found some people sitting on top of their car, waiting for the crowds to thin to drive out, and when I announced it was my birthday (that had worked out swell so far!), it turned out that it was one of the girls’ birthday too, and we even had the same unusual first name! Clearly the party gods wanted me to join them.
After a while with them, they said they would help me find my ride so I described the car and the “support your local headshop” bumper sticker. One guy says, “Like this one?” that was parked right next to us. My friend was in the car, but hadn’t noticed me because the windows were rolled up and fogged, she had met some random guy at the concert and they were having sexy times in the parked car, as I partied 3 feet away. derp
So all was well, except that she had promised to drive this guy home somewhere in northern Illinois, and by now he was passing out and would not give directions. I kept advising that we should just leave him outside one of the bars we hit on the way back (same ones from the way out). I said if someone won’t give directions, how are we supposed to bring him home? The hell with him, push him out! What a kindly child I was.
I lived and worked in Steubenville in the early 80s and remember Bethany well. I would say that I drove over there about once a month just to experience that wonderful small town and campus — so unlike the river towns just a few miles away. I drover back there a few years ago (I now live in Montana) and made sure to show Bethany to my wife.
Yep, The Who is a great band.
The new CULT record is really, really good – y’all should check it out.
They’re on tour this summer, too (going to see them on the 10th AND 12th!)
I always say “Teenage Wasteland” first and then my husband corrects me. He does notice value in things I say at times, which does make it easier to suffer the annoying corrections. I love the song and the entire album.
I remember a time when FM radio was idiosyncratic. Once formula radio took over, college stations were the only interesting radio. I listen to a rochester, ny university radio station now, NPR and the blues.
It was a nice post, to tell your critics to stfu, to continue the title theme.
LOVE The Who. By Numbers was the first album I ever bought. Saw them in Buffalo in ’82 at Rich Stadium. Opening acts were David Johansen, and then The Clash. Actually you would be amazed how many people left after The Clash finished.
That said, I’m more of a fan of their songs that don’t get much airtime. ‘Guitar and Pen’ is a great example.
When The Who played after 9-11, I was surprised that one of the songs they chose was Baba O’Riley. I guess it is a lot of people’s favorite, but I found it distressing everyone singing along heartily, “they’re all wasted” when so many lives had just been…wasted.
I don’t know how they decided which songs to perform, but I found it terribly dissonant, and I felt really upset. To the point that now, altho The Who are one of my all-time favorites, I can’t listen to that song any more.
It’s one of the true beauties of language that you can say, “Fuck off, It’s My Website” and realize just how much love is in that statement.
I’m actually not much of a Who fan, but I absolutely love “Eminence Front.” Great guitar line. That was one that MTV played a lot after 9-11, which is how I came to know it.
I totally get what you’re saying about the importance of music in your life, John. That’s the guiding theme (along with our work) in my husband’s and my lives. I just put down my ukulele to read this, and am about to pick up my mandolin to practice. My husband is in the next room watching instructional guitar videos on Youtube. We also go to live performances ever chance we get; fortunately there’s a great live music scene where we live (Tacoma, WA). My best friend from work and I swap home-made CDs all of the time; he’s gotten Bowie and is about to get uke music from me, while I’ve gotten Neal Young and the Dandy Warhols from him. I can’t imagine my life without all of this.
Speaking now as a mental health professional (my husband is one too), we both had a good LOL at your comment about making narcissists start blogs!
@John Cole: Cole, you must do a podcast! Or perhaps an internet stream would work.
You could mix great rock music with interviews of great rockstars of Blogistan.
-“John Cole, In Conversation With ABL”
-“J.G.C.’s Fireside Chats With John Rogers.”
I’d listen. Srsly.
About 25 years ago WXRT in Chicago used to have two featured artists a day. I’d listen at work all day long and they’d play everything in the artists’ catalog, not just the hits but all the album cuts, weird b-sides occasionally bootleg live stuff. I listened for several years so I have this deep familiarity with a lot of stuff that I’d never have heard. God I miss that station.
Of course punk is music; I’m older than your classmates and I know that. Where punk was full of shit was in its insistence that it was good music and all other music was bad (or “irrelevant” or “boring” or whatever). I guess the defensiveness is understandable, but I still caught kind of a playground-bully vibe from it, not “outcast” at all–or maybe some other rival gang of bullies, since the students I knew who were framed that way (though they weren’t, necessarily) were into metal, not punk. I knew all about being an outcast, and that. was. not. it.
Naturally, it slowly ate rock’n’roll, to the point where contradicting it makes you the outcast. When punk came along, I was just discovering prog-rock and its amazing family tree; when anyone who mattered was listening to R.E.M or the Cure or even the Thompson Twins, I was luxuriating in the magnificence of Hatfield And The North (thereby making me even more hopeless scene-wise).
That’s the title track to Trilogy, BTW.
Hey, if this thing’s still on, I’ll answer our esteemed bloghost and say, yeah, very worthwhile post – I was similarly influenced regarding music when I was pretty young, too (about 12 in my case), and that’s meant a lot to me ever since (music is by far my favorite “arts & entertainment”).
I didn’t get to do anything as cool as DJ as a teenager, but I started going to parties in my neighborhood where there were always older kids, even kids who were college and draft age at the time (Viet Nam).
A lot of older brothers and sisters of friends and acquaintances. This was the sixties, so, together with starting to drink cheap beer and wine (like Boone’s Farm, whatever the hell that really was) I also started getting high on hippie stuff (pot – we mostly called it “grass” back then, though that term has disappeared – and LSD) fairly young.
In ’67, along with being into the Beatles and Motown like everyone else, I started listening to early Pink Floyd (when Syd Barret was with the band) and Frank Zappa and even Miles Davis because some of the older kids were into that stuff.
I think what that did “to” me as far as music appreciation was to help me always try to listen for good new stuff (mostly in the general big tent “rock” category), whether it’s from a small “unknown” band/performer that stays small and pretty unknown and never fills arenas on tour (like Michelle Shocked), or one that becomes huge (as, say, Pink Floyd did).
I’ve done it ever since those earliest times right up to this day, and I regularly listen to bands who are very new and young (like St. Vincent and Foster The People and Cloud Nothings are these days).
The kids today are doing some truly awesome music, by the way. As good as or even better than anything else I’ve heard going back over 45 years.
Because of those long-ago teenagers who were older than me being cool with having me around back in the sixties and introducing me to Zappa and the Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson that I’m always looking for new music to enjoy (while still getting into the old stuff I love). I’m forever grateful.