Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Radio, Radio

I've started listening to the radio a lot more (read: at all) to pass the time on my commute, and also to get that hideous mashup of Tommy James' "Draggin' the Line" and Captain Blunt's "Beautiful" that’s nested inside my brain out of my head. While whatever the format or location, the playlists aren't that varied, and none of these songs are anything close to underplayed, these particular ones I've started to hear a lot more often. As in every time I get in the car. Every time. Seriously.

"867-5309" – Tommy Tutone

Just die. Just fucking die, Tommy Tutone.

Okay, this was a cute one hit wonder, but this is getting ridiculous. I'm getting tired of hearing this celebration of anonymous bathroom stall sex or whatever the fuck this thing is about, and I'm tired of hearing it as some sort of upbeat jingle instead of the sad gutter anthem that it actually is. Remember that Alltel commercial with that overly chipper girl celebrating the (federally mandated) fact that you can keep your phone number? "Tee hee, I have the same phone number as the neighborhood whore!"

"I Love Rock and Roll" - Joan Jett

I've never liked this song, and now that I'm hearing it every day, I like it less, and I've started to develop a different reading of this song to compliment my old take of "frivolous rock anthem". Now I’m hardly against age differences, as you might imagine given the large age difference between my parents. Usually, I never give it any thought, and when I do, it's almost always "Hey, whatever makes you happy," whether it's Harold and Maude, Mary Kay and Vili, or Anna Nicole Smith and Methuselah. The object of this song is a teenager ("I saw him dancin' there by the record machine/I knew he must a been about seventeen") and while Jett was only 24 when this song was released, her raspy voice makes her sound much older. Normally, I wouldn’t think anything of that, but here she comes across as a creepy sexual predator and this song seems like a celebration of the hunt for an underage boy toy. Of course I thought this song was creepy even before now, so take this interpretation with a grain of salt.

"The Spirit of Radio" – Rush

Hearing Rush on a classic rock station is no surprise, but it seems I hear this particular one every time I hit that spot on the dial. I'm not complaining, it's infectious ("Invisible airwaves crackle with life!") but a surprising choice given its denunciation of the commercial music industry ("But glittering prizes and endless compromises/Shatter the illusion of integrity"). Why this song, why now? Is it all the protest a disgruntled but impotent Clear Channel DJ can muster? Or do they just look at the playlist and say "Ooo, a song about radio…oh, look, bright shiny things…"?

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