Thirty years after the spinning my last record as a college radio DJ, I still hear music in terms of what songs go well together. That sort of segue, based either on a musical or thematic link, is what made commercial radio great at progressive rock stations in the 70s — and something that’s mostly disappeared in today’s tightly formatted radio where the DJ has little role in picking music.
Anyway, I found this song by Lorde, Royals, quite striking — and much more compelling than most of the crap on mainstream radio. And it’s a nice match with The Imagined Village’s take on Hard Times in Old England, featuring Billy Bragg.
Here’s a news flash: iPods are not water resistant.
I sort of ruined my iPod at a party we hosted recently when the skies opened up and drenched us (twice) with torrential rain. The iPod was feeding some portable speakers, and it seemed to be in a safe spot, but not safe enough as I realized when it fritzed out.
Yes, it went into the bag of rice, which is what everybody on the internet says to do with your wet electronics. I briefly considered prying it open to dry out; there are a lot of YouTube videos that show how to do this — with a guitar pick of all things — but I chickened out.
So after the rice treatment it turns out that the darn thing still works, except the screen doesn’t light up. You can read the screen, it’s just very dark.
Serves me right for being careless, but it could have been worse; for example, I could have dropped it in the toilet. No bag of rice can fix that.
Did I ever tell you about the time I competed head to head on the same stage with guitar legend Steve Vai? Well, gather around the blog and hear this TRUE STORY.
When I was in 11th grade at Carle Place High School, the student association put on a big talent show. This was 1978, so naturally, it was done in the style of the Gong Show. I don’t remember too many of the acts, but my personal favorite was the group who dressed up as punks and lip synced God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols. They had fake safety pins in their lips and noses and spit raisins into the crowd to simulate big nasty loogies. It was tremendous.
Then it was my turn. Though I could barely play the guitar — and not play the harmonica at all — I went out as some sort of Bob Dylanesque troubadour and croaked out a folk song that I made up on the spot. They mercifully interrupted my strange and terrible tune in short order and gonged me out.
Near the end of the show, out walked senior Steve Vai, who plugged in his guitar and brought the house down with the Star Spangled Banner. I remember arguing once with Mr. Vai in the weight room that Todd Rundgren was more talented than Jimmy Hendrix, but that night Steve Vai would have smoked them both.
A few years later, Mr. Vai was touring with Farnk Zappa and I was preparing for my illustrious career in television. If I’d only known better, maybe I too could have taken guitar lessons from Joe Satriani and ended up a rock star. Satriani also went to Carle Place High. Something in the water, maybe?
In the summer of 1973, I walked up Carle Road, crossed the railroad tracks — stepping gingerly over the third rail — and went to see Jeff Bridges in The Last American Hero at Raceway Cinema.
Because of the two sets of tracks, there were actually two electrified rails to cross — a third and fourth rail if you will — and in those days it was perfectly normal for eleven-year-olds to use this as a shortcut. You’d step carefully onto the wooden beams that ran above the third rail and over you went. I wonder if those things ever broke?
The movie was the story of racing legend Junior Johnson’s rise from running moonshine in North Carolina to NASCAR fame and fortune. Great flick — but my favorite part may have been the use of Jim Croce’s I’ve Got a Name over the opening sequence. I was a HUGE Jim Croce fan, so this was absolutely thrilling. I immediately went out and bought the 45.
When Croce died in a plane crash later that year, I hid in my room and listened to that record all day long. I cried and cried. Come on, I was eleven.
All this was deep in the folds of my aging brain until the song popped up on Pandora. It’s funny how music can move you so many years later, connecting you with a specific feeling from a certain time. A taste, a smell, a song — they flip on the lights in the dark corners of your head.
It would have been so easy to do the obvious thing here: the boilerplate “sexy girl” video full of models wearing short skirts and long jackets. Instead the director gave us something that’s almost like a documentary. It’s witty and entertaining — and says something about how we relate to music.
If you were in Plattsburgh between 1979 and 1983 you might have heard me playing music on the college’s tiny FM station, WPLT. Our signal was dynamite in the city, and pretty good as far away as West Chazy and Peru. You could hear us in Burlington if the weather was right.
My dreams of radio faded — until recently when Exit 97.7 WEXT allowed me to come in and do their My Exit show. Each week a community member is invited to play their favorite music.
Recording the show was very different than the days of WPLT, where the DJ would sit for two or three hours spinning records in a ramshackle studio that really looked like a radio station, with posters, turntables, and an old AP teletype machine. Being students, the staff were sometimes drunk or high, and like many college stations, the quality of the on-air product was wildy inconsistent.
At WEXT? In a sterile little studio we recorded only my intros and they added the music in later — months later. While they were great to work with, afterward it felt more like I’d had my teeth cleaned than done a radio show.
I’m sure a lot of you would like to hear the program. OK, some of you. Alright, perhaps one or two of you — so I’ve posted the audio here. The theme for the hour-long show was Women Who Rock.
Was it a sly inside joke between Dylan and John Lennon — or was Dylan mocking John Lennon? Was “Norwegian Wood” Lennon’s homage to Dylan that Dylan then homaged (is the a word?) right back at him? Was it all just a silly coincidence?
One thing is certain: the songs are undeniably similar in their musical structure and lyrics.