Monday, October 8, 2007



When was the last time you listened to the radio? I can probably count on my hands the number of the times this year, and mostly for practical reasons, such as trying to find that illusive "quick route" via traffic reports- "every 10 minutes on the dial!".

When I do I turn it on its usually CBC radio for some thoughtful conversations; recently it was a rather sensible discussion regarding the role of the U.N food program and the Canadian military in Afghanistan. I can't entirely write-off the airwaves, there is some good discourse.

I know that I certainly don't listen to the radio for music. In the IPOD/Podcasting/personalized music universe why would I subject myself to inane chatter and sensory assaulting adds just to hear that 1 in 10 song that may be half decent? This what I am thinking about while listening to Bruce Springsteen's blistering new single "Radio Nowhere". Great lines about the state of the airwaves;

I was sitting around a dirt dial Just another lost number in a file. Been in some kinda dark cove Just searching for a world with some soul. This is radio nowhere.Is there anybody alive out there
Good pop/rock songs still have the ability to make me giddy, and when Springsteen hollers "I want a thousand guitars/I want pounding drums/I want a million different voices speaking in tongues" I momentarily quiver while I listen in my car, feeling the message like a recent convert at an old time revival.

As always, I love to make connections. The Springsteen lyrics echo the sentiments sang by The Verve 10 years a go in the classic track Bittersweet Symphony;
Well I never pray. But tonight I'm on my knees,
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me,
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airwaves are clean and there's nobody singing to me now
There it is, the brutal disconnect (for me at least). There is so much brilliant, soul changing music out there and very little of what makes the airwaves reflects this reality. Who knows, I may be part of the last generation to have any meaningful memory or reference point to traditional radio.

I do remember fondly making tapes of my favourite songs as a ten year-old, when the "top 10" would come on the airwaves, always trying to stop the tape before the DJ would cut in. As a teenager there was for a time decent, truly alternative radio in Toronto via CFNY 102.1 FM. This station played the soundtrack to my adolescence on a regular basis (bands like The Smiths, The Cure, New Order etc) before it became just another corporate entity with the "Edge" moniker in the 90's.

Anyways, I am only partially nostalgic here, as there is at this point in time so much brilliant music available from multiple sources, and it easy enough to customize your own "airwaves". This does lack the shared experience that radio provided, though I guess this is partially why peer 2 peer sharing is so common place, despite the rampant denial of this from the RIAA.

(Once again I have to post Thurston Moore's article regarding the art of personalized mixes and the powerful instinct to share music)

That's all for now. Excuse me while I go and create a new playlist for radio Matthew!

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