Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Frannie got me Linda Ronstadt's book "Simple Dreams" for our anniversary this year. In it, Linda talks about growing up in the Arizona desert, being influenced by ALL of the music playing around her, music she would embrace and incorporate into her own career many years later ... be it beautiful standards recorded by Frank Sinatra (and produced by Nelson Riddle ... who Linda would work with on a couple of her own albums), Mexican folk songs (which she often performed with her siblings at various functions, YEARS before recording a couple of albums completely in Spanish), country music, pop music and rock and roll ... all styles in which she excelled once her own career took off the ground.  
I love this paragraph from early on in the book:  
"In those days, Top Forty Radio was still regional and had a wide-open playlist.  When I drove to school, I could turn on the radio and hear George Jones, Dave Brubeck, The Beach Boys and the Singing Nun on the same station.  I much prefer that style of radio to the corporate model we have today, with tightly formatted playlists and the total absence of regional input." 
We've talked about it SO many times in Forgotten Hits over the years ... radio in Chicago SOUNDED like Chicago ... and local artists like The Buckinghams and The New Colony Six and The Cryan' Shames and others were all part of our regular, steady radio diet.  Some of these records went on to become national hits as well ... and, in hindsight, it's kinda cool that some of them didn't ... because it feels like they belong to us in some very special, connected way.
But the REAL "kick" of '60's Radio was the fact that EVERY style of music existed side-by-side on your radio dial.  We'd hear all the latest hit tunes by The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons played right alongside hard rock tracks by Cream and Steppenwolf, bubblegum music by The Ohio Express and The 1910 Fruitgum Company, country cross-over hits by Glen Campbell, all the great Motown hits as well as the soulful sounds coming out of Atlantic and Stax and virtually ANYTHING else that came along (whether it be by Nancy and Frank Sinatra, The New Vaudeville Band or Ray Stevens!) and we never gave it a second thought ... as far as WE were concerned, it as the PERFECT mix of music.
The only time today you'll hear that range of artists played side-by-side on the radio anymore is at Christmas time ... when it's not at all unusual to dig out the music of Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Brenda Lee and others ... and play it alongside Christmas hits by The Beach Boys, Jose Feliciano, The Chipmunks and Amy Grant!  
Doesn't it seen strange that for about six weeks a year we find it totally acceptable to hear Andy Williams, Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, Hall and Oates, John Lennon, Dean Martin and Burl Ives (?!?!?) all played back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back ... an eclectic mix of music that radio today wouldn't DREAM of putting together in any other context yet somehow creates the PERFECT mix of music come the holiday season? 
When else are you going to hear The Eagles, Bryan Adams, Bob Seger and John Mellencamp played in the same set with Run D.M.C., Bing Crosby, Harry Belafonte, The Carpenters and The Harry Simeone Chorale?!?!?  Bobby Helms, Elton John, Barbra Streisand and The Singing Dogs?!?!?  The Drifters, The Jackson Five, Nat "King" Cole, Stevie Wonder and Eartha Kitt?!?!?  And why is it that for the other 46 weeks of the year ... despite charting well over 100 records ... the typical Elvis Presley play list consists of about four tunes ... but at Christmastime that list expands to include about a dozen classic Elvis holiday tracks?!?!? 
Programers:  Get a clue.  Wouldn't radio be FAR more interesting if it offered that type of variety all year 'round?  (kk)
Speaking of great programming, try to set aside some time this weekend to listen to Rewound Radio.  Talk about your eclectic mix of music!!!  And ALL of it coming from "our generation".  Check this out:
Hey Kent,
About six months ago Rewound Radio was mentioned on FH’s along with several other Internet radio stations. I always check them out and by far is the best of them all. Their time frame is 1955-1979. No commercials, just tons of great music.  Obviously the hits, but many obscure songs, one hit wonders and follow up singles by the one hit wonders. On Saturday afternoons they do air checks from back in the day and instant requests. Always something different. DIVERSITY ON THE RADIO!!!!!!  (who knew)? Starting Thanksgiving day thru Sunday, it'll be totally sixties with no repeats. Anyone with an interest in music from this time period has got to check it out. You won’t be  disappointed.
We've been singing the praises of Rewound Radio for some time now ... without a doubt, some of the best programming you're going to find for this kind of music ... and this weekend sounds like another winner.  (It's what we call "Forgotten Hits Radio" ... and shows you what radio COULD be like!)
Here's an "Instant Listen Live" link for you: