Recently as I sat in a cafe in Stockholm,Sweden, I marveled at my good fortune. I was in the middle of an amazing adventure. I had in front of me, a hot chocolate with whipped cream, a nice piece of cheese cake, and a packed room to ‘people watch.’ As if this wasn’t good enough, suddenly over the cafe speakers came the sounds of a long ago, obscure, favorite 45 RPM record called ‘Living Next Door To Alice. The smile on my face was wide and unabashed.
In 1976 The British Band Smokie, doing their best to sound like Dr Hook and The Medicine Show, covered an original 1972 song by an Australian band called Living Next Door To Alice. This blast from the past world have put my brain into endorphins overload except for one small factor. For the previous 2 months, I have been driving around in my car with the Smokie version stacked on a USB drive plugged into my stereo, and played quite often.
Let’s face it; mainstream radio as a qualifying medium for musical explorations is dead! This is no big secret, and there is no point going on about it. Having said this, it’s still so exciting to hear a song you really like for the first time. I remember reading an article about an author who took 5 years to compile a list and write it up in a book with explanations detailing “The 500 greatest songs ever written.” Literally on his way out the door to his publisher with his completed manuscript, he suddenly heard “Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Car” by Billy Ocean. Overwhelmed, he went back inside, crossed out song number 500 and made Billy’s song the new 500.
There is some hope, satellite radio has many options, and college radio has always been a proving ground, and benefactor to the “musically hip and hungry.” Sometimes even these pigeon-hole genres of music.
One of the greatest ways to hear new music is to drive around in your car during the dark hours. Provided you’re not overwhelmed with weather and traffic conditions, this atmosphere is perfect for diminishing certain senses except for hearing.
Recently on a work trip to Texas, I discovered a radio station “deep down on the FM dial,” as I drove through extremely remote and dark farmland. The FM signal wasn’t very powerful, and I would lose it sooner than later, but it was so eclectic and so exciting to be tuned in. In 3 songs I heard the Patsy Cline classic “She’s Got You,” for the first time, the new song by M. Ward called “Confession.” for the first time, and an old punk standard called “Bitchen Camaro” by the Dead Milkmen.
Not all old songs are great, and not all new songs are bad, but life is so enjoyable when the good ones do sneak up on you, and the pop music world is fun again.
Enjoy the music videos!