Raised On The Radio

I was raised on the radio
Raised on the radio
Just an all-American boy
I found my favorite toy

I love my iPod on shuffle, but it’s no match for a deejay’s selections. That’s what we’ve lost on terrestrial, the concept that there’s a single individual, making choices, spinning what HE wants to hear, not what some consultant told him to. We believed in these guys (and girls!) They were our best friends. They got us through the rough times. They inspired us. For they believed in the power of the music too.

That’s what the Ravyns are singing about in the above lyrics, from the soundtrack of "Fast Times At Ridgemont High", released in 1982, just before MTV broke big, just before Top Forty started to replace and eclipse AOR on FM.

That old time power still remains. On satellite. I got out of a doctor’s appointment half an hour ago, and on the Sixties on 6, Terry "Motormouth" Young was playing "Reach Out In The Darkness".

It’s hard to explain the AM radio of the sixties to today’s generation. The BREADTH! It wasn’t just rock, but R&B and country too. With a dash of Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra at times also. We were all in it together. Even those releasing stuff a little left field, not akin to the norm. And it’s these tracks we loved. Stuff like Friend and Lover’s tune.

There was a bass line. And a break. And STRINGS even.

But, it was that refrain that we kept singing, even when we turned the radio off and got out of the car.

I think it’s so groovy now
That people are finally getting together

And then came "Hungry".

You might not remember, but Mark Lindsay was COOL! His group, led by Paul Revere, was the house band on "Where The Action Is", which debuted THIS WEEK back in 1965. Don’t you remember rushing home to watch it!

Oh, there’s such an optimism in this track. God, we’re all hungry for the GOOD LIFE!

And whatever came next didn’t quite ring my bell. So I pushed the button to go to the Seventies on 7. And heard a song that sounds perfect in the summer, but was a hit in the dead of winter. Badfinger’s "Day After Day".

We’d switched to FM at that point. But most people still had AM radios in their cars. To hear this Beatlesque perfection years after that band broke up coming out of the single speaker in the dash was pure…ELATION!

And I’m listening just now and wondering what made the record SO great. And I realized it was the vocals. Remember, that’s something the Beatles possessed which is rarely emphasized. They were great SINGERS! Pete Ham sings here with a world-weariness and earnestness that we recognize. It’s US! And that twinkly lead guitar… It doesn’t get any better than this.

And just when I was wondering if it was my mood, whether these records were really this great all these years later, I heard the Stylistics’ "You Are Everything". I used to push the button on this back in the day, but on the hottest day of the year in Santa Monica, "You Are Everything" resonated. Because I didn’t choose it. Someone else did. Someone in a studio in Washington, D.C., whose only goal was to GET ME OFF!

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.

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