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MUSIC AT 50 or an alleged Voice of Reason out of the Audio Wasteland of a new century

Updated on July 20, 2016

Episode I – Man tries to make sense of how Classic Rock Radio has actually destroyed Classic Rock.

In theory, I believe most of us can agree that the concept of Classic Rock radio programming is one that has some inherent value. Bringing the music of the late 60’s to the early 80’s to an audience that grew up on listening to cassettes and eight track tapes in the car while cruising and vinyl records at home and at parties in the new millennium would be appear to be a no-brainer. But something happened on the way to this place.

Somewhere, somehow, someone who shall remain nameless (perhaps a certain someone who takes musical cues from old Rolling Stone magazine covers) decided that what we needed was a playlist that distilled this entire 15 year or so period down to about 50 bands who only had 4 songs worth hearing each.

Gone was the concept of discovering something you might have missed (how about Captain Beyond?). How about learning something about a band you thought you knew? (did you know The Doors actually released two albums without Jim Morrison?) What are chances we could hear something from the bands that actually provided a pathway to superstardom (Spooky Tooth was a launching pad for Foreigner’s Mick Jones, Savoy Brown featured musicians going on to such far flung destinations as Fogaht and Yes and Poco sent two members (Randy Meisner & Timothy B. Schmitt) to big league success in The Eagles).

Finally, can we hear some deep cuts from the great bands of the era? I don’t mean all the time, but throw us a bone occasionally to gum up the works of the predictable playlist. The last time I looked Led Zeppelin had a couple of more songs besides Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog and Rock and Roll. Think of the possibilities! You can still play Hotel California and Carry on Wayward Son for the umpteenth time and throw in Season of Wither by Aerosmith to throw off the minions who just knew that Walk This Way was coming next.

Sure, I can face facts. Radio stations are owned by a few large conglomerates. Said conglomerates commission studies, surveys, think tanks and whatever other crap runs through their transom to program said radio stations to get to a target audience and sell ad time to make money. Leave creativity and artistic vision to hippies of the 60’s and the burned out AOR guys of the 70’s they say.

Well, I, for one, am not buying it. I think we deserve a little more credit as an audience than wanting to hear the same songs over and over again to the point of wanting to plug my ears every time More Than A Feeling comes on.

Better yet, do yourself a favor and search out something different, just for a change of pace. See if you find your dust covered Beatles or Pink Floyd records in the attic and go to the song you know the least about and you very well may be pleasantly surprised.

And if you really need to hear Paranoid again, I am sure your local classic rock outlet will be playing it shortly.


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