Friday, March 25, 2011

What Is An Oldie? - Wrapping It Up

Just because it's old ...
Doesn't mean it's an "oldie"!!!

That seems to be the general consensus of our recent "What Is An Oldie?" Poll.

In fact, when tabulating and analyzing all of the responses we received, it seems that the majority of the oldies music fans out there seem to think that "The Oldies Era" ends at about 1975 ... or right before the dawn of The Disco Era.

(Sure, we still had folks insist that it shouldn't run beyond 1963 ... that The British Invasion began another new era in music ... but if I'm going to cover "oldies" and retain any sense of passion about it, I've at least got to include the music that means the most to ME ... and that would be that so-called "Beatles Era" of 1964 - 1970. Music changed in SO many ways during these years ... and British Rock was just one aspect of this.)

We had the whole Motown / Atlantic / Stax Soul Thing going on ...

Psychedelia found its way on to the charts ...

As did HUGE country cross-over hits by artists like Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Roger Miller.

West Coast and East Coast falsetto sounds by the likes of The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons ...

Pop sensations like The Monkees, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Turtles and Paul Revere and the Raiders ...

Local Acts like The Buckinghams, The Cryan' Shames and The New Colony Six ...

Girl Groups like The Chiffons, The Shirelles, The Ronettes, The Shangri-Las and The Dixie Cups ...

And so much more. (And they all got played side by side every single day and nobody thought ANYTHING at all about it!)

Of course a REAL Oldies Station has GOT to include "Roots of Rock" artists like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and The Everly Brothers ... this is an absolute MUST ... as are break-out stars like Connie Francis and Brenda Lee ... Bobby Darin and Ricky Nelson ... the list truly does go on and on and on ...

(My God, if you're not going to play '50's music on an oldies station, where on earth ARE you going to play it?!?!? This music risks disappearing forever as though it never even existed ... despite the fact that it was this very music ... and these very artists ... who paved the way for what you ARE playing. Are listeners REALLY going to have to wait a hundred years until some enterprising "music archaeologist" digs it up again and rediscovers it like a fresh batch of dinosaur bones???)

Compiling a list of the Top 20 Hits documented between 1955 and 1975 certainly includes enough songs to fill ANY radio station playlist with more variety than that which is currently being offered today ... so maybe an oldies station dedicated to these twenty years would work.

But can I draw the line at 1975??? Sure, I'll miss not hearing many of my '70's favorites ... and even some of the '80's stuff ... but ALL of that music is easy enough to find elsewhere on the dial ... IN SPADES!!! There are at least a dozen other stations in town playing those same 200 - 300 tired songs again and again and again ad nauseam ... my "OLDIES" station doesn't have to play them, too!

Why not advertise yourself as "We play the songs you don't hear anywhere else" ... or "We play the music the OTHER radio stations have forgotten all about" ... and then actually PLAY some of this GREAT music!!! Be the station that stands out in your community by playing the stuff the oldies fans want to hear ... and the stuff you're NOT going to hear on every other stop up and down the dial. How 'bout this ... "We play the songs you love ... and the songs you forgot all about!" ... and then mix it up a bit ... play the stuff you're already playing but then plug in a "Wow" song or two every couple of hours! Your listeners will respond ... and then tell others about the GREAT music your station is playing.)

Another overwhelming response establishing during our series was the fact that MOST of us are not embarrassed by the term "oldies" ... as far as oldies fans are concerned, it helps to define a specific era in music and it helps define the music and artists that we love. There are certain songs and certain artists that will NEVER be considered "oldies" ... and NO radio station is going to expand their listening audience by including them ... instead, you're simply going to drive away more and more of the REAL oldies fans ... because WE know the difference! (Or, if you're not going to stick to the playbook, then stop calling yourself an oldies station ... if you're going to give us a steady dose of late '70's, '80's and even early '90's music, you've given up your right to associate yourself with the oldies community. Stick with your "Greatest Hits of" tag and leave it at that!)

There are others on the list who believe that good music is simply good music ... and that as long as you're playing good music, the listeners will come and stay. I subscribe to that theory ... I don't really care if it's "Chattanooga Choo Choo", "Mystery Train", "Last Train To Clarksville", "Long Train Runnin'", "Midnight Train To Georgia", "Morning Train", "Train In Vain" or "Hey Soul Sister" by Train ... this is ALL good music. (I'm also one of the growing minority that believes that ALL of this music can co-exist alongside each other on one radio station dedicated to playing "The Music of Your Life" or "Music For The Ages" if programmed properly. But then you can't really call that oldies either!)

While this series may be over (and thanks again to EVERYONE who voiced their opinion on this one ... the response was overwhelming ... and proof positive that oldies music fans not only KNOW what they want ... but are PASSIONATE about their oldies!!!), we're not done yet when it comes to making programming suggestions. In fact, this just may be the next big wave for Forgotten Hits ... perhaps the next most logical step would be building the ULTIMATE Radio Play List!!! (After all, better radio benefits ALL of us!!!)

Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Is An Oldie? (Part 12)

As we continue to wind things down in our "What Is An 'Oldie'?" discussion, we've got a few more thoughts and opinions to share.

But first we'll kick it off with a very interesting and enlightening history lesson!

I think objectively, an "oldie" is any hit record that's no longer current, and has slipped from "stay current / recurrent" status at radio. (Up to a year - 18 months old)
Ask any 14-year-old girl and she'll probably tell you Rihanna's "Umbrella" is an oldie, and objectively she's right.
In pop, there are lines of demarcation I think most of us can all agree on ... and usually what we adults consider an oldie (I'm 54) will fall somewhere within these lines. I describe each era below ...
1955-1964: "Rock Around The Clock", dormant for a year, becomes a hit on the strength of movie Blackboard Jungle. R&B-based Rock & Roll begins to profoundly influence pop culture, which segues into softer more pop-based sound after the 2/3/59 Buddy Holly / Big Bopper / Ritchie Valens plane crash.
1964-1969: Beatles on Sullivan saves Rock & Roll. British Invasion ... Motown, Rock & Roll becomes Rock. Folk-Rock, Psychedelic Rock, beginnings of Heavy Metal. Beginnings of FM "underground" radio.
1970-1974: Beatles, Supremes and Simon & Garfunkel break up. Singer-songwriter era takes over while Soft Soul comes to prominence. FM Rock provides a home for Heavy Metal and its variants, while AM Top 40 provides crossover success for many FM Rock artists. Album begins to replace single as the prime currency of record sales. American Graffiti, Grease (Broadway play) and "American Pie" usher in "oldies" revival in 1972. WCBS-FM, the first "modern" oldies station, launches.
1974-1979: "Rock The Boat" and "Rock Your Baby" usher in the Disco era. Success of Rock-based Top 40 hits seen more in album rather than single sales. Modern AOR format evolves from "free-form". Saturday Night Fever and Grease (film) redefine the Soundtrack album. Perception of contemporary R&B artists as "automatically being Disco" leads to schism in public tastes between Disco and Rock, exacerbated by proponents of Disco claiming Rock was dead. Rap is born from the ashes of Disco. Stadium Rock emerges.
1980-1991: AM Top 40 becomes irreparably associated with Disco, reinvents itself on FM as "Contemporary Hit Radio" (CHR) and evolves away from "melting pot" mentality it had prior to Disco. New radio formats emerge: Adult Contemporary, Alternative Rock. Punk Rock goes mainstream as New Wave, which leads to Synth-Pop and "New Romantics". MTV premieres. Michael Jackson becomes "King Of Pop". Def Leppard "Photograph" leads to new, female-friendly strain of Heavy Metal known as Hair Metal. Music and movies combine to spawn a raft of hit Soundtrack albums. The Big Chill leads to a new Oldies revival and many Oldies stations begin to concentrate on the "Big Chill era", tightening their playlists in the process. Rap / Hip-Hop begins to find its voice, helped along by Run DMC / Aerosmith's remake of "Walk This Way". Gangsta Rap and Speed/Thrash Metal acts such as Metallica begin to make inroads ... but without radio play, a first. Cassettes, then Compact Discs, replace vinyl.
1992-1998: Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" ushers in back-to-basics Grunge era and revolutionizes production / arrangement techniques for pop / rock records, eventually influencing the sound of most all Pop/Rock music. Alternative / Modern Rock radio comes to prominence. Rap / Hip-Hop finds wider acceptance, a new strain of Rock-based Rap begins. Metallica and similar acts, along with Gangsta Rap, work their way into the mainstream, gain radio play and influence popular tastes. Many new sub-categories of music begin to emerge. Lollapalooza / Lilith Fair are the modern equivalent of Dick Clark's old "Cavalcade Of Stars". Much of the music of this period is based upon/influenced by the 1964-1969 era. MTV becomes largely irrelevant.
1999-2007: Boy Bands and Teen Popsters sell albums by the tens of millions. Rap / Rock goes mainstream with Linkin Park who sells millions as well. Gangsta influence takes over R&B / Hip-Hop, although Nelly and Eminem add enough pop sensibilities to make it palatable for mass consumption. They too sell in the millions. Internet replaces MTV in driving music tastes. American Idol also becomes a pop culture driver, most notably with Kelly Clarkson. CHR becomes known again as Top 40, although the "melting pot" mentality never returns with it. Entire sub-categories of music become popular without radio. Oldies formats begin to expand beyond 1974.
2008-present: Lady GaGa channels Madonna to become superstar. Rap / Hip-Hop elements now incorporated into most pop music for a rhythmic hybrid that dominates current pop music charts. Producers Dr. Luke and Max Martin are today's Phil Spector. mp3 downloads and YouTube hits replace CD sales, making the "single" the currency of pop music once again.
That's how I see it anyway.
Someday when all of us reading this are long gone, people are gonna look back fondly at Lady GaGa or Katy Perry and wax poetic about what awesome artists they were.
As for going strictly off the Billboard Hot 100 ... I'd say from 1970 forward, as album sales replaced singles sales, you'd best be careful! That's a recipe for a steady diet of "You Light Up My Life" (the biggest hit of the 70's!) and other "reaction" singles that never made it to "gold" status at radio ... for good reason. Put them in a "spice" or "oh wow" category and play them every once-in-awhile, absolutely! Or run them in a benchmark feature, like at 12 Noon or 5 PM.
Eddie Money's "Baby Hold On" and "Two Tickets To Paradise" sold albums ... not singles - as did most rock-based product from the 70's forward! Doesn't mean they weren't legitimate hits.
If I were programming an Oldies station I'd want to bone up on my market's Top 40 / CHR chart history and start from there. In Chicago, see how they did at WLS and 'CFL (and their successors as we get into the 80's).
The image of a radio consultant bringing in research from another market is probably still valid - especially in smaller markets - but in this day and age, where half-a-dozen companies own everything, it's usually some corporate guy. Might be a distinction without a difference ... still the corporate guy's probably more inclined to work with the local program director to research their market and find out what the listeners in that market want to hear. The way that research is interpreted determines the overall musical feel of that station. Can't do it right without a passion for the music, as far as I'm concerned.
Taking the broader view ... it was probably research way back-in-the-day that showed these rock titles that sold albums but not singles belonged on Top 40 in the first place.
One other thought ... for Nina and anyone else who wonders ... the adoption of Arbitron's PPM (Personal People Meter) in the Top 50 markets means more emphasis on building cumulative audience ("cume"), often at the expense of the other metric by which audience is measured, Time Spent Listening ("TSL"). To build cume, you cut the playlist and just play the "best of the best". A larger playlist lends itself to TSL but it's cume that gets the advertising buys.
Although I've been a Country Radio personality since 1989 (and love it far more than the tone of this letter indicates), I admit I still follow Top 40 to this day. I liken where Pop music is today to 1963 or 1978 ... everyone's on the dance floor, in the club ... about as substantial as "Mashed Potato Time" or "YMCA". We all know what came after 1963 and 1978. I'll be interested to see if 2011 or 2012 provides any parallel.
Keep up the great work ... I enjoy coming here daily!
Charlie Mitchell
GREAT stuff, Charlie ... and an EXCELLENT history lesson. Folks will be talkin' about THIS one! Thanks! (kk)

>>>We received a number of comments like this over the past week, touting how GREAT Magic 104 and Real Oldies 1690 were ... but, of course, the obvious argument becomes "Then why aren't they on the radio anymore"??? And sadly, that's a tough argument to win. However, I feel that we have accurately presented what the REAL oldies fans want from their oldies station. If you're going to be so bold as to call yourself "oldies", then PLAY oldies!!! And NOT late '70's, '80's and '90's stuff. (kk)
Magic 104 might have survived if the newer ratings system was used. Now the ratings method has greatly increased the ratings for wls-fm and perhaps has kept the station alive.
Real Oldies 1690 was a godsend on an impossible wavelength. It, too, could have survived if some independently wealthy person bought it. Not only didn't some radios not even have 1690 on the tuner but the signal reduced by 90% at sundown. The playlist was reasonably large and the disc jockeys were from the good ol' days!
>>>And seriously ... how did "Baby Hold On" and "Two Tickets To Paradise" by Eddie Money become part of "The Greatest Hits of All-Time" scenario? I swear, I hear (and turn these songs off) at least three or four times a day ... they're late '70's "hits" that only reached #11 and #22 respectively ... yet HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of REAL, HONEST TO GOD Number One, Top Ten and Top Twenty Hits are ignored day after day after day in favor of playing stuff that some consultant determined was one of the greatest hits of all time! (kk)
I agree with your basic comment but your above comments seem to contradict your main thesis. Why complain that two songs only reached #11 and #22 when you are complaining about limited playlists? On the other hand, complaining that they're from the late 70's is another issue. Frankly speaking, while I prefer 50's to mid-60's music plus doo-wop, I am certainly willing to settle for stations that expand their playlists to include late 60's and 70's if it keeps the music alive. Fortunately, I can always listen to Sirius / XM in the car and on my computer and get a fantastic wide assortment of music strictly from the 50's and 60's.
When I'm home and moving around, I am stuck with FM so it's nice to have a choice between the True Oldies Channel and K-Hits (even though their jocks are soooo annoying -- where's Larry Lujack and Fred Winston when you need them????)
Steve Davidson
Unfortunately, both out of work ... proving again that there is absolutely NO justice in the world (or the radio world) that talent like this is sitting home and we're being subjected to the utter crap passing itself off as radio today. (I've finally given up on K-Hits ... after hearing "Come On Eileen" for the third time in 24 hours ... and considering the fact that I only had the radio on a total of three hours during that 24 hour period ... granted, not consecutive ... but I REALLY believe that I should be able to get in my car, go where I need to go in three separate one hour trips ... and NOT have to listen to the exact same music each time I do ... I swear, it's like frickin' Groundhog Day on the radio dial lately!!!)
As for the Eddie Money / Bob Seger comments, I have no problem with these songs or artists either ... and would GLADLY endure them both if they weren't being forced down my ears repeatedly day after day after day. My objection comes from the fact that there are SO many other great songs to choose from ... yet virtually NO variety on the dial. Maybe MOST of America has been blinded by this and simply accepts it for what it is ... but I find it insulting to every other intelligent human being out there who turns on their radio to be entertained ... who turns on their radio because the LOVE this music ... only to have "Blinded By The Light" pounded into our heads 15 times a week ... and then not even being able to change the channel to escape it! Maybe radio's hidden philosophy is so simple we can't see it: Sure, we all play the same music ... so you might as well leave your radio tuned in HERE because you're not going to find anything different anywhere else. Kinda like the TV mentality of running a strong lead-in show trying to help build an audience for something that isn't doing so well ... the old philosophy was "Maybe they won't get up and change the channel". Evidently it hasn't dawned on them yet that NOBODY gets up to change the channel anymore ... we all have remotes now ... and we surf CONSTANTLY trying to find something ... ANYTHING ... better to watch than what's on YOUR station right now. It's the same for radio ... with typically 10-12 buttons you can pre-program in every car now ... built in CD-Players and iPods ... satellite and Wi-Fi radio ... the music choices are now in the hands of the listener ... yet NOBODY programming radio seems interested in giving us a REASON to tune in and listen. As a MAJOR fan of radio and all that it's meant to me over the years, that's just REALLY sad. (kk)

You probably already know this, but the records you mentioned in today's comments by Bob Seger and Eddie Money are played here a lot as well. I am like you. It seems that every time I turn on the radio, one of those records is playing. What are the odds of you turning on three radio stations consecutively and they are playing the same song?
I am thankful that I have the music here at home and if I happen to think of a song I haven't heard in a long time during the day, I can get it out that evening and play it. I know I will never hear it on the radio.
Now during the day I listen to the TOC with Scott Shannon. His music that is played regularly on his channel is the same as the classic hits station here in OKC. They now call themselves "classic hits". The music played is the same but the name of the music was changed from 60's and 70's to "classic hits". I still say that there is just one PD in the USA that programs oldies stations because you hear the same stuff over and over again. At least on the TOC you hear occasionally a forgotten 45. What got me that about two weeks ago while Scott was not working the board, a listener called up and wanted to hear anything by Eric Burdon and the Animals. Would you believe they played HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN? Say what! You have got to be kidding me.
I am like you. When I hear a song for the eighth time on the station, I change stations. Sometimes I might turn over to our radio station that programs sports. However, it is like the oldies stations that play the same songs over and over. The same listeners call up day after day.
I had really hoped to interview Scott Shannon for this special oldies series. We talked about it several times but never put the thing together. But I know that from all the conversations that I've had with Scott over the years, he really believes that he is doing what's best for radio right now, programming what he's programming. The research ... and the ratings ... would seem to confirm it. And, to his credit, there isn't ANYBODY out there better at doing what he's doing. And he WILL slip in those occasional surprises from time time and (off the record) would love to play even MORE music from the '50's and early '60's ... but everybody has to answer to somebody ... and Scott Shannon is no different. Bottom line is he SAVED the oldies for America. Maybe he'll take away a few good ideas from this series ... maybe he'll be inclined to experiment a little bit more ... maybe he'll flat out agree and then say "But you've got to understand that there is NOTHING I can do about it." I don't know ... we'll all just have to wait and see.
And he's got a pretty tough gig ... in most cities across America, he's on the air 24 / 7. Unfortunately, sometimes this pre-recorded rap doesn't allow him to spontaneously respond to a more "immediate" event. I sent him this posting from Robert Feder's recent "Oldies Radio Wars" column:
Shannon is all voice-tracked, not live. And he’s about 110 years old. That pic must have been taken in 1990.
Scott asked me to respond thusly:

I dunno ... lookin' pretty good for a guy pushing 100!!! (kk)

OK, so the other night I called Dick Biondi's show to request a coupla songs ... they were doing their twin spin weekend, and had just played a couple of New Colony Six songs (which were great to hear on the radio) ... so of course I had to request equal time ... I requested the Cryan' Shames (to no one's surprise) It Could Be We're in Love and Young Birds Fly ... which they played, and I was really glad to hear them on the radio ... when's the last time you heard either of these two bands on the Chicago radio stations????? And they both had #1 songs here back in the day! I, too, am sick of Bob Seger and Gerry Rafferty and, oh I could go on and on ... let's mix it up a little!!!!!
It's cool that Dick Biondi can take Scott Shannon's Twin Spin Weekend promotion and still put a local spin on it ... you're right, other than maybe Jeff James over at Y103.9, much of this era is neglected on our local radio stations. Brings up the point about knowing your market and knowing your audience ... something else that too much syndication doesn't allow for. In addition to your 2000 tried-and-true oldies that the whole world knows, it's REALLY nice to program in something especially for your audience in these major cities. Let's face it, we ALL had our local hits ... what a great chance to spotlight some of them! (kk)

I understand that you are trying to nail down a description here, but as I read along and also listen to what my YOUNG (under 12) students say, I end up with these questions:
1. If a song is re-recorded by the original group or someone "new" does it change status and become a "newbie"? When we cruise through my 20th century videos and "Satisfaction", "Do You Believe In Magic", "Henry the VIII" (beginning with 1920's version), and others are sung by several artists, my students will recognize them with surprise and name others they have heard who have also performed these songs. So, ... does the artist make the "oldie"?
2. If a young child goes to a concert and LOVES the music done by the performers who were popular decades before they were born, are they "hooked on oldies" now or just enjoying timeless classics? (both songs and entertainers)
A song has always either appealed to me, or not, depending solely on my enjoyment and likes. Whether it had never been performed before or had now been performed countless times did not matter to me. To me ... it was new. I can see where the style of performances has changed throughout my life, but to someone hearing a recording for the first time, it is still "new". No matter when it was written or previously recorded. If Mozart had been able to record his music, those performances would always be new to a first time listener.
????? Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano

Your comments simply provide more credence to a "Music Of Your Life" format ... which we're ALSO in favor of (provided you actually PLAY the music of all these generations.) I have so many mixed emotions about all of this. SOME of this music (albeit a fairly small percentage) truly IS "timeless" ... how do you brand The Beatles as an "oldies artist" for example when, for the past ten years, their catalog and new releases have been outselling many of the hot new contemporary artists of today? THIS is a timeless artist ... but there are very few who would measure up to that criteria. I would love to see a "Music Of The Ages" format (as Mason Ramsey over at has been promoting for years now) take off in at least a few major markets just to see what the audience reaction is. Until somebody tries it, how will we know? (John Rook's Hit Parade Radio format was squashed before it ever even hit the air ... too bad as this, too, would have been a prime indicator of what the oldies listening audience really wants from their oldies station. Had it launched according to plan, they'd be well into their "tweaking period" by now ... it would have been very interesting to see which aspects of this format worked and which ones didn't.)
Realistically, how can a new station in Chicago, like K-Hits, attempt to present an accurate portrait of "the greatest hits of the '60's, '70's and '80's" and then narrow down thirty years ... THREE DECADES OF MUSIC ... into a 300 song playlist? (By the way, I barely turn the station on at all anymore ... and yet, despite this, am now up to FIVE plays of "Come On Eileen" this week!!! See note above: THREE of those plays were within the same limited 24 hour period!!! Does this mean that despite hearing it five times this week already, I've also missed 15 OTHER playings of the same tune??? And, if programming "the greatest hits of the '60's, '70's and '80's, is this REALLY one of them?!?!?)
Part of the fun and appeal of oldies music is that it really IS, in many ways, timeless ... it's feel-good music, plain and simple ... and I honestly believe that each new generation that discovers it breeds another future generation of oldies fans down the line. (kk)

Speaking of which, after only two weeks K-Hits has already signed legendary Chicagoland Disc Jockey Tommy Edwards to the station ... maybe they're already reading the writing on the wall that, if you're going to program oldies on your station, you really ought to have SOMEBODY on board who knows and understands what oldies are. Here's more on that story, courtesy of FH Reader Frank B.:
Kent ...
I have to trust you on this one. Good move or bad move?
Frank B.
Time will tell ... overall, I'd have to say "good move" ... provided the station reels in some of the manic programming they're currently doing and let the voice of experience prevail. Sounds like Tommy will be handling more of a "fill in" role for right now ... but maybe he'll bring along some of his famous former co-workers at some point and time (in which 104.3 FM truly WOULD recreate Magic 104 again!!!) It'll be interesting to see how much they take advantage of his years of experience with this format ... it just might turn the station around ... a VERY sad commentary to make after only two weeks on the air!!! (kk)
>>>Oldies = 1955 - to the Beatles (Bill Donovan)
Ah, so Americans had the old (Oldies) sounding music, and what caused the girls to go wild over The Beatles - a new sound!!!!
No question about it, The Beatles ignited the music scene again by bringing something fresh to the game. Don't forget, a lot changed in the late '50's and early '60's ... Elvis went into the Army, opening the door for a bunch of fresh-faced teen idols to invade the charts ... and, even when he got out, he recorded much more "mature" sounding music and focused more on his movie career ... Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran and a few other up-and-comers died ... President Kennedy was assassinated ... America was in a major funk (and not in a GOOD way!!!) So four talented young kids from Liverpool (with a whole new sound) kick-started the music industry again ... and paved the way for all kinds of new sounds and experimentation. Did anybody REALLY believe in 1964 that The Beatles would go from "She Loves You" to "Strawberry Fields Forever"??? Of course not ... MOST didn't even think they'd still be around by 1967 (and that included The Beatles themselves, who knew that the career lifespan of an entertainer rarely extended beyond a few years.) John and Paul regularly talked about how they hoped, "after the bubble burst", that they would still be writing songs for other artists! Ringo wanted to open up a string of women's hair-dressing salons! Who would have EVER dreamed that 50 years later they'd still be amongst the best-selling acts in the world?!? Amazing. No, I don't think you can eliminate the '60's when you're talking "oldies" ... but, based on what we're seeing, the "Oldies Era" probably DOES end with The Dawn of Disco. (kk)
>>>And what's up with "Boogie Shoes" by KC and the Sunshine Band? I don't think I heard that song more than three or four times when it was out ... now I hear it nearly every single day on nearly every single station! And it was one of KC's lowest charting singles! (kk)
Hi Kent,
I think Boogie Shoes by KC and the Sunshine was in someone's ad campaign a
few years back, but I can't remember whose. It's also in Saturday Night
Fever, darn it anyway. I wish it would go away.
Hi Kent
A few comments about oldies and playlists.
Let me start by saying I'm 66 and from Chicago and I'm basically talking about oldies vs classic rock. I find that for me the oldies (50's - 60's) mean more to me for a few reasons.
1. In my teens and early 20's, I was passionate and excited about rock n roll. It was new, different, rebellious and energetic. DJ's told you the name of the song and the artist and offered comments and insights. But a good part of this was my younger age.
2. When I was in my late 20's and 30's, I loved music but my teenage exuberance had been replaced with some level of adulthood. Also, the DJ's stopped informing you and, in most cases, did not even tell you who the artist was. When I listen today to classic rock where my radio scrolls the name of the song and the artist, I find myself saying "so that's who did that song!"
Back in the 50's when a song became a hit, it was also played over and over but after a week or three it was not played again. When classic rock appeared on the scene in the mid to late 60's, oldies music had basically disappeared from the radio and it wasn't until many years later when the nostalgia craze reappeared. Here in Chicago sometime in the 80's (I think) we had our first oldies station reappear (WGLD / WFYR on103.5). Since we had not heard this music for almost 20 years, the effect was truly powerful and the passion reappeared. Classic rock, on the other hand, never disappeared. It has been on the radio from the late 60's to the present so the effect on the audience was not the same.
As for playlists, I, too, mourn the fact that the playlist for songs strictly in the 50's - 60's has been limited. And songs I truly loved now force me to change the station because they've been played over and over. But I can understand Scott Shannon's logic as to why he can't play a wider variety of songs from that era. So while it's not my first choice for expansion, I find it more enjoyable and refreshing listening to true oldies now with their playlist expanded to cover the 70's. Once again I can hear songs I haven't heard for a long time. I also understand Scott's logic even more because when I listen to two of Chicago's classic rock stations (music I liked but wasn't passionate about). I find that I listen more and more to 97.9 because I recognize 90% of the songs played while 97.1 plays so many album songs that I never heard before and frankly don't want to hear again. So I understand that many of the listeners to the oldies stations liked the music but aren't that passionate about it and simply want to hear a more limited selection of the ones that were big hits. That's a business decision and if it wasn't made, I think the oldies stations would go out of business.
Steve Davidson
(Kent - Though we haven't met, I love your site and much like the connection we felt for the DJ's we listened to as kids, I feel a similar connection to you and your website.)
As we continue to break things down here, it seems to be getting clearer and clearer that the "oldies era" ended when the FM dial became the predominent means of listening to the radio. As the popularity of the 45 gave way to the domination of the album and album rock (now called classic rock) took over, the clarity of what was it "hit" became greatly blurred. We heard SO much of EVERYTHING on the radio that some of our all-time favorite songs were, in fact, album tracks, many of which later saw release as singles simply because of this positive listener response. There'll always be some overlap (and this is where you need to start sub-sorting music ... yes, the music of 1970 - 1975 ... pre-disco ... might fall into the oldies category ... but a portion of that music might best be described as classic rock instead.) Unfortunately, the deeper and deeper we get into this, it just helps to build an even more solid case showing why music is as segregated as it is today. If you ran an all '70's station, would you play the huge hits of Deep Purple, Focus, Grand Funk Railroad and Edgar Winter along side "I Will Survive", "YMCA" and "That's The Way I Like It"? And if you did, what potential listeners would you be insulting in the process? Disco SO disrupted the "lifestyle" of rock and roll that it came back in a much greater flurry in the late '70's and early '80's hits and the "Anti-Disco" was born. Yet how do you NOT play MAJOR International Superstar Acts like ABBA or Michael Jackson JUST because their music doesn't conform to a specific calendar date?
This has been a VERY interesting and enlightening series ... your input and feedback has provided MUCH food for thought ... and it's going to take a little while to digest it all.
We'll wrap things up tomorrow on this topic and move on ... but still encourage this debate to continue from time to time by way of our regular Comments Pages. Thanks again to everybody who took part in our discussion.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Is An Oldie? (Part 11)

--->Scroll back to read all ten previous chapters on this topic!

I am amazed at the great amount of input of what Oldies are!
Me, too ... and there's still more to come! We got a GREAT response to this one ... hope some of the "powers that be" are paying attention out there! (kk)

Hi Kent -
I know that we haven't spoke for awhile, but I read the website all the time. Having lived through the transitions of rock music, I would like to give my opinion on the term "oldie".
First of all, in the mid 50s and early 60s, most popular radio stations played a variety of music. I believe that Alan Freed coined the phrase "Rock & Roll". This was a mixture of Blues, R & B, Rockabilly,and slow music ala the Platters, etc. The slow music was divided up into the Ray Connif style slow shuffle (eg Magic Touch by the Platters), R & B ballads (mostly cross-overs from the black stations), and then you had Elvis, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, etc.
Standards like Chances Are by Johnny Mathis, and finally the 12 / 8 tunes like So Young also received airplay at the time. The term Doo Wop, which referred to the lines that the background singers might sing, came to be in the early 70s ... it wasn't called "Doo Wop" prior to that, This kind of music was called OLDIES in later years, (as early as the mid 60s!)
In the early 60s, 1962 - 63, terms like Soul Music were used to describe songs recorded by black artists who came out of R & B or Blues. Motown and Stax / Volt had their own style and were often confused with each other. The Four Tops, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder were with Motown (to name only a few); Sam and Dave, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and Booker T and the MGs were with Stax / Volt (to name a few).
Along came the British Invasion, featuring artists like The Beatles, The Stones, The Animals, Led Zeppelin, etc. They competed with American bands like the Beach Boys, The Rascals, the Loving' Spoonful, etc. To me this was CLASSIC ROCK and was NEVER referred to as OLDIES.
I am stopping here as it gets much more confusing in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Now music was defined by style ... Disco, Dance, Punk, Glitter, Metal,Fusion, Hip Hop, Rap, etc. You would NEVER refer to the Trammps as an Oldie Group.
So I feel that anything recorded prior to the early 60s (and can be defined by the following terms): Doo Wop, Rock & Roll, Rock-a-Billy, Beach, Novelty, Twist, Mashed Potato, etc., cross-over country, are eligible for the OLDIE TITLE.
I have been playing since I was 12 years old. I had a few "forgotten hits" and I still perform on a regular basis. I have listened to people ask for requests for 50+ years and I base my observation on what the audience asks for. Needless to say, some of my work is backing Oldie Groups and over the years I have backed up The Duprees, The Flamingos, The Jive Five, Ben E. King, The Coasters, The Mystics, The Capris, etc, etc. I was a member of The Fireflies, Vito And The Salutations, The Daydreamers and finally recorded as a solo artist. As a studio musician, I have played on over 1500 recordings and was always aware what kind of music we were playing or re-creating and played in an appropriate style.
Best Wishes ,
Don Young
Thanks, Don, for your very insightful perspective. You're right ... the term "doo-wop" was coined later. And although the oldies radio station boom took off in the early '70's (when all you had to play were records from the '50's and '60's), think about this for a second. Little Caesar and the Romans scored a Top Ten Hit back in 1961 with a song called "Those Oldies But Goodies" ... so what music were THEY referring to?!?!? (Listen closely and you'll see it's the music of the '50's!!!)
You also bring up a good point again about how SO many different types of music were played side-by-side during this era. It exposed us to SO many different genres of music and can still be considered the most prolific time in rock and roll history. And it didn't have to be all rock and roll either ... as you mentioned, Johnny Mathis was one of the most successful artists of this era ... and I don't see him being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame anytime soon!!! (lol)
Great food for thought ... thanks again! (kk)

I actually don't care what an "oldie", "newby" or "tween" is ...

From the 20's to the 10's, I'll spin anything I think is fun, well crafted and sounds good on my freeform webradio station. Overthinking and wasting time about it kills enthusiasm ...
Those who want to get into hardening of the categories, be my guest ... I've got better things to do ... I'd rather play on ...
John B. Krug
Yes, you can turn me on! I'm on the radio!
Surf City Sounds Plus:

I agree ... good music is good music, regardless of when or where it comes from ... and the widest possible mix allows you to showcase ALL of that ... but then don't call it "oldies" ... because it's not. And, unless it really IS the top 300 - 500 - 1000 - 2000 songs of all time, DON'T call it "The Greatest Hits of All-Time" either ... because they aren't. (kk)

I like this next idea ...
Hi Kent,
It's nice to see a debate that ranks with "What is Country?" and "What is Jazz?".
I have TWO answers; one as a fan and collector, the other as a radio programmer.
As a collector, I dislike the term Oldie (but not as much as Doo Wop) for many of the reasons already mentioned. As a collector, I define Oldies as being from the beginning of rock and roll until about 1975, BUT I also include more recent recordings by artists from that era and newer artists like Kenny Vance and the Planotones, Pure Gold and Isadore and the Inquistors who perform in a retro style.
As a radio programmer, I would use the term Oldies because - albeit imprecise - it is a term used by listeners. I believe that the scope of an Oldies station should be determined through (often maligned and usually misused) music research. I never thought that I knew more than the collective wisdom of any of my stations' listeners. I am probably best known for my programming from 1975 - 1981 of WHN, a Country station in New York City. Our 1,000+ oldies rotation included lots of Elvis, Sun records, the hits by frequent Forgotten Hits contributor Paul Evans and, yes, even "Susie Darlin' by Robin Luke. I could have never figured out which ones fit listeners' expectations of a Country station in New York City at that time and which ones didn't without the help of my audience. My answer as a PD would be "Oldies are whatever the listeners to your Oldies station consider Oldies. You have to test an enormous number of records to do it right, because there are so many records that could qualify" By the way, WHN did pretty well in it's time. :)
Ed Salamon
I agree ... the listeners SHOULD determine what is ... and what isn't ... an oldie ... and then it's the radio station's obligation to fill that definition ... or, don't call yourself an oldies station. The '80's are not ... nor will they ever be ... "the oldies" ... in fact, based on the consensus of the responses thus far, the oldies era pretty much runs from 1955 to about 1975 ... just before Disco invaded the charts. Now that's a pretty small window of just 20 years ... and it leaves out an AWFUL lot of really good music ... but good as it all may be, it's NOT "oldies". Go ahead and do your Saturday Night Disco Dance Party if that's what you're into ... program your "Retro Rewind" '80's stations ... play the music from the '80's, '90's and today ... or the '70's, '80's and '90's ... there IS an audience for that music ... but it's NOT the same audience that loves their oldies ... and expanding your playlist to feature more late '70's, '80's and '90's music ISN'T going to sway any of your listeners who prefer the '50's and '60's music, especially if you're playing less and less of it! Instead, you'll find that you're driving your "core" audience away. Without question, it's a tough call to make ... if Forgotten Hits decides to limit itself to that 20 year era (plus a couple hundred songs from either side of that window, simply because they HAVE to be included) ... we'll have to stop featuring much of our favorite music ... but if you're going to call it "oldies", then you have to conform ... otherwise, quite simply, DON'T call it "oldies"!!! (kk)

In fact, WE get questioned, too ... just yesterday I received this email ...
Hi Kent,
I've been noticing lately that almost all of your Monday to Friday Forgotten Hits have been from the '70s. I do hope there isn't a new emphasis in Forgotten Hits on this decade.
All the best,

Our new "Today's Forgotten Hit" feature (launched the first of this year) will feature music from the '50's, '60's and '70's ... it's all over the board and we've already put together a list of HUNDREDS of songs that qualify as "under-played but still deserving" radio hits. We have featured several '70's songs of late ... but a quick check of the "play list" shows 14 of the last 25 songs featured are from the '70's, the other 11 (including today's) are from the '60's. Before the week is over, you'll find one more from each decade posted during our hot new Monday thru Friday feature. (kk)

TOC plays Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation" quite a bit. I looked it up in Whitburn; it was released as a single from one of his LPs but I don't ever remember hearing it on either WLS or WCFL!!!! This must be one of the songs you're referring to from the Millennium package. I'm none too crazy about it, but I notice they do play "Little Sister" and (even less often, seemingly) "Too Much" and "Viva Las Vegas." But, now that you mention it, they hardly EVER touch the prolific Elvis output from 1956 through 1965 - not to mention 1968 through 1972. (I think Biondi is "permitted" to play In The Ghetto every so often since he likes that song, but that must be the exception that proves the rule!!!)
Scott Shannon is a HUGE Elvis fan ... one of the BIGGEST ... so it's just got to eat at him a little bit that he has to limit the amount of Elvis airplay on his station ... especially when it's called "True Oldies" ... the plain and simple historical fact is that Elvis has got to the the preeminent oldies artist!!! (In addition to the Elvis tunes you've mentioned, he does seem partial to "Return To Sender" ... I hear that one quite a bit on The True Oldies Channel ... and "Love Me", too ... which is also one of MY early favorites.)
"A Little Less Conversation" was first released as a single back in 1968 ... and it TOTALLY tanked. (It came from his movie "Live A Little, Love A Little" and peaked at #53 on the Cash Box Chart ... and only reached #69 in Billboard.)
At this point, Elvis hadn't made his Comeback Television Special yet ... that wouldn't air for a couple more months ... it was pre-Vegas appearances and post "Viva Las Vegas" ... so radio wasn't paying much attention to The King anymore at this particular point in time. (In fact, Elvis hadn't had a bonafide Top Ten Hit in over three years!)
It was rereleased in 2002 in its remixed version which, apparently, caught on in a VERY big way in the European Club Scene and actually went to #1 in several countries. (Here in The States, it peaked at #50.) I've often wondered what Elvis would have thought about the revamped version. It's not that it's a bad song ... actually, I've always kind of liked it (but am partial to the original version) ... it's just that the 2002 remix has absolutely NO place on oldies radio!!! And CERTAINLY not at the expense of Elvis' other 150+ chart singles that AREN'T getting played. Yet it seems to be one of those that have fallen into heavy rotation when it comes to Elvis music on the oldies stations ... and that's just wrong. His entire body of work (including over 120 songs that charted BEFORE "Suspicious Minds", which seems to be the "starting point" in Elvis' radio catalog these days!) is being ignored in favor of two or three songs that don't even represent The King in all of his true glory. This man changed the face of music FOREVER!!! Everything that has come since started with this guy! Heck, if they played one Elvis hit song per hour, you wouldn't have to repeat a single one of them in over a week! (Now maybe that's overkill ... but doesn't he deserve at least 40 or 50 spins a week of something OTHER than "Suspicious Minds", "Burnin' Love" and the 2002 remix??? (kk)

>>>If you're going to DO an oldies show, it should be the AUTHENTIC, original versions that are featured ... and, in order to come across as believable doing it, the deejay really has to know the difference. We hear remakes slipped in from time to time ... and we recently gave Y103.9's Jeff James special kudos for actually pulling one of them off the air mid-song a few weeks back. (It was something by The Everly Brothers and evidently whatever was in the computer was a '60's remake rather than the Cadence original) kk
Yeah, they remade a lot of their songs; guess it had to do with Stereo!!! Actually, ever notice the Stereo remake versions of some songs become more popular than the original versions later on? But, really, other than collectors, do people actually remember the "original" versions from decades back? Heck, no! If they claim they can, they are fibbing! I mean, I sometimes test my older sister, and let her hear an outtake or alternate version, and she has to question if what she was listening to was the "hit" version. Even I, after hearing the hit single version, such as "Hocus Pocus" by Focus, question what I heard or what actually made the song chart! Same with The Jaggarz, "The Rapper" ... two minor different versions exist, and I recall hearing both on radio and in jukeboxes! It was neat to find Cozy Cole (NJ drummer) and his other hit, "(Topsy) Turvy II". Most everyone publishes it in mono, when the promo 45 was Stereo / Mono!! Had to let Ace (UK) know they were taken!! I'm sort of shocked they did little research! I still have a couple vinyl price guides left :-)
But, hey, let's face it, music artists are hard up for money; this is why you can find them remaking songs for money!!!
Had to let Nancy know, I caught that Johnny remade "Poetry In Motion". She said it was remade for MGM. Sad thing is, these remakes disturb people, especially when they are expecting original versions!! But I give Madacy Entertainment some applause, since they do specify recreations on their CDs!!!

Meanwhile, accidents continue to happen ... even the record labels sometimes put out an alternate version without realizing it or acknowledging it!!! Heck, even Collectables has the song titles incorrect on many of their CDs (Drifters come to mind)!! But I agree, with actual alternate versions, you'd have to do one of those Outer Limits "There is nothing wrong with your radio. Do not attempt to adjust the tuner. We are controlling the transmission ... " LOL!! Joking aside, I'm grateful to those individuals and record companies that offered me unreleased material and / or unique material. I do make it a point to credit those who have on my site, but ONLY if they give me approval. I'm sure some of it, though decades old, can be backtracked to how, where, who, it was obtained from!!! Bob Pantano (WOGL) was a kind soul, decades back, when he played a foreign group song on his Saturday night show, and pinpointed me to the Cherry Hill (NJ) Mall where I found the same 12" single
Jersey John

First of all, those of us who grew up loving these songs ... and listened to the radio nonstop, DO remember the original vs. a remake or alternate take ... I pick them out all the time. (The other night Dick Biondi played an alternate version of "In And Out Of Love" by The Supremes ... and I noticed it right away ... and actually, it was pretty good ... a MUCH cleaner mix with a few very subtle differences ... but still enough to indicate to me that it was NOT the original hit single mix. And yesterday we shared with you some of the responses we received after we posted the album version of the Loggins and Messina hit "Thinking Of You" instead of the Top 40 hit single version. People know ... if you were into this stuff to the degree that a lot of our readers were, then yes, they WILL spot the difference.
Now I will agree that that's not main-stream America ... they wouldn't know the difference if you played them back-to-back. MOST of the oldies station listeners don't know the actual name of the song OR the artist ... they just know that they like a particular song ... and that's good enough for most of them ... which is probably why no real effort is made to make oldies radio any better ... they're just playing to their audience.
But wouldn't it be cool to advertise yourself as "The True Oldies Channel ... we play the songs you don't hear anywhere else" ... or "We remember the songs that the rest of radio has forgotten" ... set yourself apart from every other station in town that's playing the EXACT same music day in and day out ... make your station stand out for its diversity in music choices. Sure, you've still got to feature the most popular tunes 'cause that's what most of your listeners want to hear ... but bring that something extra to the table and distinguish yourself as THE oldies source. (And honestly, isn't it hard to listen to the new K-Hits station, knowing that the jocks weren't even born yet when some of these '60's songs they play were hits??? It is for me!!!) kk

In regards to what is or isn't an oldie:
My opinion is that an "oldie" is any rock and roll or R & B song that was popular in the mid-50's through the mid-70's. I realize those dates could be considered arbitrary.
From the disco era forward, popular songs can be labeled whatever genre they happen to be in. "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" by McFadden & Whitehead, is an old song, but it's not an oldie, just disco. Early rap songs can be 25 years old, but they are still rap. Conversely, "Catch A Falling Star" by Perry Como is a old pop song, and I don't consider it an oldie. Nor would I consider "Hey There" by Rosemary Clooney an oldie.
Radio stations helped define what an oldie is by the amount of air play a certain record got after it ceased being a current hit. Some songs weren't as big as others when they were current hits, but got much more airplay as an oldie. Case in point, "In The Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett, was not as big as one of your forgotten oldies of the past month, "It's Just a Matter Of Time" by Brook Benton. But it has received much more airplay as an oldie. In fact, "It's Just a Matter Of Time" never received much play as an oldie in the 60's-70's, so it was easily forgotten.
That's my two cents.
Jim B
Quite often a song that wasn't that big a hit during its original chart run will reap the benefits of renewed airplay, particularly after it's been featured in a motion picture or series of radio and television commercials. Some others (like your Wilson Pickett example) are truly inexplicable.
Incredibly, "Shout" by The Isley Brothers only reached #47 in Billboard when it was first released back in 1959. A 1962 reissue fared even worse (#94) ... yet its been an oldies staple ever since Otis Day and the Knights performed it in "Animal House". The Righteous Brothers' version of "Unchained Melody" was a Top Five Hit when it was first released back in 1965 ... but then went missing from the radio for about twenty years until it was resurrected in the film "Ghost". (In between, oldies radio played "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and "Soul And Inspiration" enough times to make them two of the most played songs in radio history!) Since its use in "Ghost", "Unchained Melody" has become one of the most over-played oldies of the past 20 years ... too bad because much of the pure excitement originally felt and generated by Bobby Hatfield's vocal intensity has been lost due to complete saturation ... now, instead of being awed by his vocal gymnastics, we find ourselves turning it off for the 2000th time.
The other day we mentioned "Old Time Rock And Roll" by Bob Seger ... NEVER off the radio (and fueled to over-played status by its use in the Tom Cruise movie "Risky Business). Another one that comes to mind is "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John ... not a day goes by where I don't hear that song come on three or four times ... yet it never even made Billboard's Top 40 when it was first released back in 1972. (It DID reach #29 in Cash Box Magazine, however.) How did THAT become one of Elton John's most over-played oldies? And what about Louis Armstrong's 1967 recording of "What A Wonderful World"? This one didn't even make Billboard's Hot 100 when it was first released ... but after being featured in the Robin Williams movie "Good Morning, Viet Nam", it's been on our radios ever since. The re-released single climbed to #32 back in 1988. And what's up with "Boogie Shoes" by KC and the Sunshine Band? I don't think I heard that song more than three or four times when it was out ... now I hear it nearly every single day on nearly every single station! And it was one of KC's lowest charting singles!
These are just several examples of songs that enjoyed a whole new life ... but what about the tens of thousands of songs that WEREN'T featured in a movie or some new ad campaign? They are destined to be forgotten FOREVER if radio doesn't at least acknowledge their existence and impact. I don't care if that means you only play them once or twice a year ... go ahead and stick with your day in, day out 300-500 heavy rotation tunes ... but make an effort to work in 200 "new" wow songs each month ... and, over the course of the year, you will have found a way to spotlight at least 2000-3000 songs that you're NOT playing now ... and your audience will LOVE you for it! (kk)
(Of course there's really no accounting for how some of this stuff sticks and some of it doesn't ... I just saw my third billboard today advertising "The Nanny" starring Fran Dreschler, which is now running in syndication. Why would ANYBODY want to watch an episode of that NOW when nobody even bothered to watch it in the first place? And could there BE a more annoying show on TV?!?!?) kk

Oldies Music or Music Oldies. AOL had a great chat room by this name. It was populated by mostly Baby Boomers and spanned the music between the 1950's up to half way through the 1970's. Many long hours were spent in this room sharing memories of our favorite songs. Often we would enter a song name and other 'roomies' would either identify the artist or type in the lyrics (this typing of lyrics was referred to as 'singing' and a lot of us would join in, typing the lyrics and, though the screen was silent, you could hear the music from where you sat).
Competition developed between roomies and people responded as quickly as they could to song titles, by typing the artist or artists that had covered the song. Terms like VG - very good, and WTG - way to go, were entered to reward the roomy who was first to identify the song. Great friendships developed in the room and soon get togethers were planned and roomies got together at 'fests' as they were called. A famous roomy now passed was Hugy and he began holding HUGYFESTS at his home and all members of the chat room were welcomed. I understand these were glorious events but I never attended any (I planned to attend the year I retired, but that was the year he passed, so I thought it would be cancelled ... it wasn't, but I found that out too late). I do not know why the chat room became 'unpleasant', but after the FESTS, cliques began to form and insults started flying. As such, the room fell from favor for a lot of the roomies, though many still remain connected through FH, and b-day lists, but the pure joy and innocence of the room has been sadly lost.
So to me 'Oldies Music' is all those great songs produced and sung from the early 50's to the start of the 70's. Teen Idol songs, Country songs, Doo Wop, and Popular are all inclusive. I also love the music from the 20's through the 40's ... those are the songs that begat our great 'Oldies', but they are in a different class as Nostalgic and Depression Songs and War songs. There are some songs from the 70's right up to now that I like, but not too many, but they, too, are not 'Oldies' ... nor will they ever be.
Unfortunately I am not sure that a Radio Station could survive today playing only those Oldies I love so much. Technology such as the internet and music streaming, Ipods and similar music players are ubiquitous and aren't broken up by commercials so they are preferred to radio broadcasts.
There is a terrific Oldies station in my area WATD 95.9 FM that I listen to from time to time, but most of the time I use my CD player with custom CDs I made for my own enjoyment, or I listen to my Ipod, my personal song lists without any annoying commercials.
One man's opinion, but I enjoy your site and wanted to participate in the dialogue.
The AOL Oldies Music Chat Room begat Forgotten Hits back in 1999. I was one of the regular visitors there (as The60sShop) and regularly participated and competed in the oldies trivia challenges you described. (Even met Mrs. K there ... "Cherricat"!!!)
From day one, I always tried to promote the songs that radio was ignoring and finally one day sent an email to 35 of my closest "roomie" friends and asked, "If I put together an oldies newsletter, spotlighting some of the songs and artists that radio is ignoring today ... but were legitimate, big hits at the time ... would anybody bother to read it?"
When all 35 said that they would, Forgotten Hits was born. I launched it Thanksgiving Weekend, 1999, and figured it'd be something I'd throw together once a month or so and feature a particular song or artist in some sort of a spotlight tribute. (Who knew how it would snowball from there ... and turn into literally THOUSANDS of daily postings!!!)
We've been to a few of these events (although we preferred the sunny west coast of California and Roc'n'60's barbecues over a trip to Philly ... but I have great respect for what Hugy did and he was a FH regular from Day One.) Over the years, we got to meet a number of FH Readers (from back in the day when the list was still "manageable" ... even when we first got to about 300-400 readers, I still knew nearly every single one of these people on the list ... then word of mouth and good buzz took over and today when Frannie asks me "Is so-and-so on your list", I typically have absolutely NO idea and have to look it up!!! lol)
I don't know if this series will help to pinpoint a definitive answer as to what is (and what isn't) an oldie ... but based on what I've read so far, the folks who LOVE the oldies and aren't embarrassed or ashamed to say so have determined that the songs that REALLY fit into this category seem to be the songs released between 1955 and 1975. To paraphrase what you wrote above, other songs may be "old" ... but they're NOT "oldies". It isn't just the fact that it came out 25 years ago ... it's a specific period in time that captured a particular mood and spirit. And the fact is, this music truly changed the world. Sure, there've been other musical milestones since ... and HUGE stars have come and gone ... but there's just something about that era that sets itself apart from any other.
Here at Forgotten Hits we dedicate ourselves to preserving this music and these artists. We can only hope that our oldies radio partners will do the same. Want to listen to '80's and '90's music? Go for it ... there are 12 other stations in town who will give you exactly that. But don't pollute our cherished oldies by throwing these tunes into the mix. You're not going to sway us into feeling differently by cramming these songs down our ears ... instead, the opposite will happen. The fans who LOVE the oldies will leave ... and dig deeper and deeper into their own music collections and Internet Radio Programs who are giving them what they want. Oldies Radio needs to step up and decide what you want to be ... and if you don't believe in the format, then it's probably time to hang it up and call yourself something else. (kk)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This And That

>>>Other than collectors, do people actually remember the "original" versions from decades back? Heck, no! If they claim they can, they are fibbing!
(Jersey John)
>>>First of all, those of us who grew up loving these songs ... and listened to the radio nonstop, DO remember the original vs. a remake or alternate take ... I pick them out all the time. If you were into this stuff to the degree that a lot of our readers were, yes, they WILL spot the difference. (kk)

And, just to prove a point, we received these three consecutive emails today about yesterday's TODAY'S FORGOTTEN HIT posting ...

Good morning Kent,
I may be opening up the whole "correct version?" can of worms again ... but this is the hit version of Loggins & Messina's "Thinking Of You"!
Apologies for the crappy quality ... it's the only "single version" on You Tube.
In fact this goes beyond "remix" - it sounds like a completely different recording! And in my opinion a much better one. I actually played this as a current at my very first radio job in small-town Vermont in 1973. Anyone know if it was ever remastered for CD? 'Cause the only version I've heard since the mid-70's has been the album version.
Anyway, had to get that off my chest ... thanks for all you do and have a great day!
Charlie Mitchell

The version you posted today of 'Thinking Of You" is NOT the original single. The original (looks like this might be it ... had a slightly-quicker tempo. Your post is quite faithful to the original, tho.
Bob Frabel
Easton, PA

The Forgotten Hit you posted by Loggins & Messina "Thinking of You" is the wrong version! You posted the LP version which is a totally different take (and is slower). Enclosed is the 45 hit version.
Mike Hartman

See John, people notice!!! Ironically enough, a month or two ago Bob Stroud featured "Thinking Of You" as his "One 45 at 1:45" ... and played the actual 45 on the air. Man, it sounded wrong!!! Honestly, I didn't care for it at all ... we have gotten SO used to hearing the album cut version for so many years now (when they play it at all, that is!), that the original hit single version just doesn't sound right anymore!

But the fact that three emails in a row pointed out the error of our ways, I just HAD to share the 45 version with you! Thanks, Gang ... and all of you out there who DO remember! (kk)

P.S. By the way, TODAY'S FORGOTTEN HIT, "Sunny Days" by Lighthouse, isn't the original single version either! Sometimes the only thing I can get my hands on fast enough is the commercially available version of some of these rarer, under-played songs ... all the more reason why SOME label needs to put together the DEFINITIVE CD Collection of ORIGINAL Single Mixes ... I believe there would be a HUGE market for this ... and each and every one of them should be checked against the actual vinyl 45 to verify the accuracy. So much time is spent on remixes, alternate takes, demos, etc., that the REAL hit records are being ignored and, with younger and younger generations programming this stuff, all sense of accuracy (and history) is quickly disappearing. (kk)

Beginning this past Sunday Night, FUSE TELEVISION has been running the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony. Although I haven't seen it all the way through yet (boy, I remember a time when I wouldn't have missed a note!), it does seem quite entertaining. Flashing around the dial, I was able to catch at least partial performances by all of the inductees ... and Neil Diamond's short but sweet acceptance speech. (Reports are circulating today that say he was roaring drunk ... but I thought he was hysterical. After Paul Simon joked that it took this long for him to earn his induction because of his duet with Barbra Streisand, Neil said he'd make that record again today ... "I don't give a shit ... and Barbra doesn't give a shit" ... and then, pointing down at some of the VIP's right up in front, said "I know you didn't vote for me." TOO funny ... and, sadly, true.) Several times during the ceremony the artists and presenters complained again about SO many great acts being ignored by The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... it's just WRONG!!! But congrats to Neil Diamond and the rest of The Class of 2011 ... you earned it! (My prediction for 2012 ... Chicago will FINALLY make the ballot ... and go on to take their rightful spot in The Hall!!!) kk

>>>I love this quote from Joel Whitburn's most recent "Top Pop Singles" book ... imagine trying to compile an iPod when you're a "completist" like Joel Whitburn!!! (kk)
>>>As of today, 41,520 songs are nestled safely in my handy little iPod. Imagine that: every song in "Top Pop Singles" (including the "Classics"), "Pop Hits" and "Bubbling Under the Hot 100" are just a quick click away.
(Joel Whitburn)
So naturally I cracked up when I got this update from Joel earlier today ...
Hi Kent,
Just a quick update on my iTunes library: 44,460 as of today.

Just a note on the Gentrys I bet your readers didn't know ... Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart was an intregal member of the group and, if you were into 70's and 80's WWF professional wrestling, you'll remember Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart as a little loudmouthed Manager of a number of wrestlers. He would always wear a tuxedo, carry a megaphone to the ring and use it to hit the opposing wrestlers over the head, jump in the ring and kick a guy in the head when he was down, etc. Of course occasionally an opposing wrestler would get revenge on whomever he was wrestling and grab Jimmy for a major beatdown as well ... just some good times. And Jimmy was so much fun to watch, what a showman! At the time, I had NO IDEA he was an original member of the Gentrys but was later surprised to find out.
And now you know the REST OF THE STORY!
"Wild" Bill Cody
Actually, we have covered that before ... but not as colorfully as you just did!!! So thanks, Wild Bill! (kk)
The following site gives a track list and description. By going to the external links, the program is also available at Amazon through outside sellers but at a much higher price. This is where I found the link to the site above.
This sounds like a bargain at $39.99!!
Peggy McLaughlin
>>>It looks like that first link is the CD Box Set and not the DVD ... meaning just the music, no program. (This must be the one Mitch Schecter was talking about.) However, the other link appears to be for the DVD. Honestly, I think quite a few of our readers might be interested in obtaining a copy ... thanks for the info! (kk)
Good to know "At The Drive In" is still avalable out there. It's really a great show, and I'm proud to have been a part of it.
Mitch Schecter / The Rip Chords
Sooner or later we'll get to see this program!!! Write to your local PBS Station and tell them you want to see "At The Drive In" during one of their pledge drives again!!! (kk)
re: SMIRK:
More of my silly music humor ...
a.) Before you give your fiancee her new cell phone, load it with a Neil Diamond tune.
Then tell her it comes with a Diamond Ring tone!!!!
b.) Most don't know Dave Mason was late for his first solo recording.
Yeah, he was tied up in Traffic!!!
John :-)
Thanks, John!
(P.S. Don't quit your day job!!!)