Monday, March 14, 2011

What Is An Oldie? (Part 4)

We'll have lots more of your comments on this topic all week long ...

To read what's come before, just scroll back to last week! And check back throughout the week for even more on this subject ... some EXCELLENT food for thought. (Hopefully a few of the deejays on the list are listening, too!)

To answer our question, WHAT IS AN OLDIE?, some of our readers took the most basic, literal, educational approach ....

To answer your question of what is an "oldie", first I went to my dictionary and to see just what it said. It said that an "oldie" is something old and often, well known, as a motion picture or a song. Than was pretty obvious. Now I believe that the great majority of your readers are like me in that an "oldie" pertains to a song, especially the phrase "an oldie but a goody".
Now then, how old does an "oldie" have to be? One "oldie' to a person may not be an"oldie" to the next. I guess you could say a song from ten years ago could be considered to be an "oldie". If a song, say from ten years ago is considered to be an "oldie" by some people, then a song from ten or more years could be also an "oldie" Some people would say that an "oldie" is like a fine wine, it gets better with age.
Not all records are "oldies but goodies" An "oldie" say, a breakin by Dickie Goodman to a lot of people is not considered to be a "goodie" An "oldie" when heard by someone may bring back memories of what they were doing at the time the song came out, maybe even bringing back memories of] what they were exactly doing the moment they heard the song for the first time, either on the radio or on a jukebox.
A few weeks ago on the TOC, Scott Shannon played Bertie Higgins 1981 song KEY LARGO. A couple of days earlier he played Paul Davis' 1982 song '65 LOVE AFFAIR. Now assuming that one graduated from highschool in those years, they would be 48 and 49 years old, respectively. Now to those people, those songs would be considered "oldies". A song or"oldie" they remember from their childhood, primarily their highschool years. To be honest with you, I consider them "oldies" also. They may not be quite as good an "oldie" like a song from the mid to late fifties-sixties to someone like me.
Nowadays it seem that "oldie" radio stations are playing songs from the seventies. They are programming music to those that grew up in the seventies just like a few years before "oldie" radio stations were programming to those that grew up in the mid to late fifties and nineteen sixties.
So, what is an "oldie"? There is an old expression that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" An "oldie" may be various and sundry things to an individual. It will be interesting to see what your readers have to say as to what they thing an "oldie" is. I have often said that if you wanted to ask someone what their definition of a "hit" record is, ask ten people and you probably will get ten different answers.
a popular song, joke, movie, ... old person or thing"
So, there you have it ... we are the oldies!!! :-)


Others put their own spin on defining an era ...

According to Don McLean (full interview here: 'Music is dead' ), popular music has been dead for 25 years.
In an interview with Vicki Anderson in the New Zealand Press, he says "I don't hear music any more. I hear drums, guitars and pianos playing things, but it's not melodies. I don't hear melodies. It's not music, it's repetitive -- the same thing over and over again -- no more than two or three notes, tops. It's a little phrase, and they're so proud of themselves with this little phrase that they say it eight million times."
He prefers "most of the music before 1985, when people still wrote songs."
-- Henry McNulty

One thing that kind of confuses me. Most people here consider "oldies" strictly 1960's and earlier, but back in say, the 1970's we considered 50's and some 60's as oldies when they were in reality only 10 - 20 years old. Now, in 2011, songs from the 70,s and 80's are just as old but they are not "oldies"? Now don't get me wrong, I agree with everyone here that the 50's and 60's were by far the best decades in music, but that doesn't mean there were not a lot of good songs in the 70's and 80's too. And people that were teens in those decades (younger than us old guys LOL) probably consider them oldies. Another thing too, young adults today (I don't mean teens) seem to like our music too. I have four daughters that are all in their 30's and many times I have put on old songs from the 50's and 60's and, even though they are hearing a lot of them for the first time, their reaction is almost always positive. Teens today, well that's another story. Most of them wouldn't know a good song if they heard one.

Interestingly enough, somebody sent in this posting from Ron Smith's website ... reading this now it absolutely could pertain to today's music ... but check out the date ... it was actually published back in 1967 (which just happens to be my all-time favorite year in music!!!)
Kent -
Got this from Ron Smith's Board. I'd like to know what you think about it.
Frank B.

Speaking of Ron Smith, thanks again for doing our little interview last week regarding Real Oldies 1690 ... and for posting our WHAT IS AN OLDIE? inquiry on your website. (Some of the comments you'll read this week were first posted on Ron's awesome website). We're hoping to talk to Ron further on this subject ... and have asked Scott Shannon for an "exclusive" Forgotten Hits Interview, too, on this topic ... CLEARLY something we all feel pretty passionate about. (With a brand new "oldies" station starting in Chicago today ... K-HITS 104 ... it'll be interesting to see if WLS-FM steps up their "game" a little bit to concentrate more on some of the OLDER oldies ... and leave the '80's to these new guys. (kk)

I just read your interview with Ron Smith, and I never realized how much you guys think like me (or vice versa...grin) ... I thought I was a loner in this world of music. I have been trying to find backers for several years (money) to buy a station and program the oldies music, songs that are never played anymore, or that never made it on the charts. I also think there is a generation of youngsters out there that would fall in love with that music IF they were given a chance to hear it. You Tube, I have discovered, is a good source for hearing songs that even I have never heard before, (and I am a retired DJ). But these are the songs I would program on a station so everyone could enjoy them either again or for the first time.
I would throw away the darned play lists that killed radio in my opinion, and let the D.J's do there thing once again. Put some real life personality in radio again and make it fun for everyone.
WLS-FM General Manager Michael Damsky hit it on the head with the younger generation finding the oldies today. I could go on and on for hours, but you get my drift.

When younger listeners today hear the music as they would in a movie, they will connect with it and either love it or hate it as we would. How many times have you heard a song and said it was the worst thing you ever heard, but you listen and it grew on you and you ended up loving it. Happened to me many times. But others I listened to and said it would be number one and it did.
Likewise the obscure songs that never made it to even the top 100, I listen to for the first time (via Youtube) and I say wow, why didn't they play that 40 years ago? Give it a spin today and let the listeners hear it. Throw out the playlists and Let the DJ's do their thing and make the programming interesting coupled with the music. I am sure there would have to be a few restrictions, but very few.
Look at the country (?) music of today and 10-15 years ago, a lot of it was just remakes of old rock songs and they had hits with it. I also think a rock and country format would do wonders. Programming oldies rock with oldies Country & Western songs, would go good together on a station. But it would have to be presented right to make it work.
Keep up the good work.
Earl (Just My 2 Cents Worth)

I think an oldie is whatever one wants it to be, as long as the song was released at least 6 or 7 years earlier. Some 20 - somethings might consider "Kiss From A Rose" by Seal or "Truly Madly Deeply" by Savage Garden oldies at this point. OK, enough on "their" music!!!!!
For me an oldie is any recording released before 1976. Generally speaking -- !!!! I tend to go with the "Disco spoiled the whole thing" flow. For example: "Coming Up" by Paul McCartney? Not an oldie. "Hey, You" by BTO? Definitely an oldie. The Alice Cooper track you featured last week -- not an oldie. In other words, anything from the 50s -- say about 1954 or 1955 -- through 1975. My mom would regard a Doris Day hit from say 1950 or a Tony Martin hit from 1945 as a golden oldie (but probably not anything by the Beatles or even Elvis; she's more into the Hit Parade era.) That should cover it for now, can't wait to read what the others have to say.
XM has had great success with their "Decades" Channels ... spotlighting ONLY music from the '50's, '60's, '70's, '80's, etc., and nothing more depending on which decade you choose to tune into. But even that seems a bit distorted today ... because the changes and shifts in music didn't really occur at each decade's turning point.
For example, the benefit of 20 / 20 hindsight says that "The Golden Age Of Rock And Roll" really falls into the period of 1955 (Rock Around The Clock) through 1963 (right before The Beatles hit in America) ... then you've got The '60's (which is REALLY 1964 - 1970, aka The Beatles Era) ... and then the '70's, which tend to stand alone (depending on whether or not you decide to include disco or not ... as we've said before, for some the BEST of times, for others the very WORST of times.)
Regarding Elvis oldies airplay, other than a special birthday or death anniversary tribute weekend, radio RARELY plays anything by Elvis pre-dating "Suspicious Minds" anymore ... in fact, The King Of Rock And Roll ... with over 150 Billboard Chart Hits ... has been reduced to a radio two-hit wonder ... "Suspicious Minds" and "Burnin' Love" ... and that's about it! Billboard themselves haven't helped the cause by declaring the beginning of the "charts that matter" mid-1958 when The Hot 100 officially made its debut, thus eliminating Elvis' first 30 chart hits in the process (including ten #1 records!!!) This is HARDLY the respect an artist of Elvis' caliber deserves ... he influenced not only an entire generation but also every successful music artist who came after him. "Suspicious Minds" and "Burnin' Love" are both great songs ... but they are hardly representative of Elvis' catalog of music. And it REALLY frosts me when The True Oldies Channel plays one of the Elvis millennium remixes instead of one of his original REAL hits recorded while he was still alive ... especially with such a WEALTH of material to choose from! (kk)

To my way of thinking, an "Oldie" is simply any song that's five years older than the listener!
Clark Weber

Hi Kent -
I can understand the dilemma of determining what "oldies" are and, after giving it some thought, I narrowed it down like this:

The term "Oldies" was used to define music that was played in the 50's, 60's and early 70's when I was growing up. And there was no doubt in ANYBODY'S mind what an oldie was or what you would hear on an oldies station. I think it was the late 70's or early 80's when many more genres started popping out of the woodwork to describe various other music (like disco, alternative, elevator).
With the amount of time that has passed I think people take "oldies" to have expanded like the term antique does with cars (anything over 25 years old). But I personally don't think music should follow suit. Oldies at the time were defining a certain sound not so much how old a song was. If it was just how old a song was why don't oldies radio stations play a mix of rock, disco, country, blue grass, polka and anything else that has reached a certain age? As you said, oldies was a baby boomers thing. What they need to do for all the music that came AFTER the oldies (what they are calling oldies now) is to come up with a different name that would encompass this other accumulation of music. What that name could be I am sorry but I have no suggestions. Well, one idea comes to mind. I had a CD collection called "Big Hair Rock" because of all the bands that used to sport those aweful hairdos back in the 80's.
Just my 2 cents
-- Buck Lam

You raise a good point ... and I have to agree with you.
Here's the part I don't get ... if we decide that "oldies music" is a specific moment in time ... and even if that moment is "the first 25 years of rock and roll", which is pretty much the era that we have always presented in Forgotten Hits ... why would there ever be a need to stray from presenting that format? The term DEFINES the era and you don't need to change the definition to reach a broader audience at the expense of losing every bit as many listeners in the process ... at this rate, how do you ever get ahead??? As more listeners come to discover this era of music, you'll ADD listeners ... without risking driving anyone away. Doesn't that simply make more sense in the long run???
If you were doing a period piece on The Civil War, for example, covering a very specific moment in history ... you wouldn't revamp that game plan ten or fifteen years later to cover the ten years that came AFTER The Civil War, right??? Just because a new generation came along doesn't mean you have to CHANGE the focus. These folks deserve the same chance to discover this music that WE had.
And here's the really crazy part. We figured it out a few years ago that between 1955 and 1979, something like 7000 songs made Billboard's Top 40 Chart. Now granted, they weren't all gems ... some were out and out crap that still muddled in somehow ... but even if you acknowledge that HALF the crap released during those 25 years was exactly that ... crap that doesn't deserve to be played on the radio anymore ... that STILL leaves 3500 songs that DO deserve a spin now and then. Now add in some of the classic album tracks that we all grew up with during that era and pretty soon you're right back up around 5000 songs again.
So why does radio only play about 300 of them? Think about this for a second ... if you want to "shake things up" a little bit, add MORE songs from the same era ... that way you're still catering to your audience but you're ALSO programming in more variety that still fits the format! Give 150 - 200 of those 300 "everydays" a rest and program in 150 "new" oldies from that same era ... see which ones catch on (and which ones don't) ... heck, you've STILL got 3000 more songs to choose from if a few of these come up "stiffs"!!! And then repeat this process every three months or so and all of a sudden you've got listeners tuning in again and again to see what other "new" oldies you might be featuring next!
Don't dilute the concept simply to expand the era ... the era IS what it WAS ... you can't rewrite history ... so EMBRACE it ... and leave the '80's, '90's and millennium tunes to the OTHER 20 stations in town that are already playing them anyway ... and stand out and be UNIQUE!!! Stay focused ... do what you came here to do ... and embrace that genre ... and I guarantee the love will come back to you ten fold. (Damn, now I sound like a frickin' chain letter ... forward this message on to ten more radio stations before midnight tonight ... but the sincerity of the message is real ... if you're going to call yourself an "oldies station", PLAY THE OLDIES, dammit!!!) kk

More to come later in the week ... so stay tuned.

If you'd like to voice YOUR opinion on this topic, just drop us a line at ... and then keep watching these pages for more on this subject. Slowly but surely we just may change the way oldies are presented on the radio ... but we need your support ... so if you're a fan of oldies radio, let us know what you think ... what you like ... and what you don't. What can radio do better? What songs and artists belong on an oldies station ... which ones don't? We want to hear from you! (kk)

DON'T FORGET: The brand new K-HITS launches this afternoon ... if you're in Chicago, be sure to tune your radio to 104.3 FM a little before 1:00 this afternoon ... at exactly 1:04 (get it???), they kick off their new K-Hits Format, programming music of the '60's, '70's and '80's on what USED to be Jack-FM. (Prior to that, of course, it was Magic 104, WJMK ... at the time, Chicago's premier oldies station!)