Saturday, July 26, 2008

Things that Make You Go, "Really??!!??"

So another unspectacular quirk of mine is that I like to listen to the oldies station. I often say that the oldies station saved my life. I was driving home from Chicago late one night many years ago (I'd taken my sis up to see her then-favorite band Oasis in concert but had to be back for work at 8:00 the next morning), and I was just about dead to the world. I was fighting the desperate need to just nod off. The tail lights of the cars in front of me looked like jawas . I flipped through the radio stations to find some music to keep me awake and landed on the oldies station. I began singing along (I know all the words to so many of those old songs) and suddenly found myself awake and alert for the last leg of the drive. So yes, the oldies saved my life!

Anyway, today, I was driving around running all the errands I hadn't had time to do this week during tech week -- groceries, putting gas in the car, paying bills, etc. I flipped to one of the two oldies stations I have preset in my car. I was happily bopping along to Martha and the Vandellas and then the next song came on. And it was . . . are you ready for this? . . . "Broken Wings" by Mr. Mister.

Let me say that again.


This "Broken Wings." The one that came out in the 1985, my freshman year of high school. I am so not ready for music that I listened to (and loved) in high school to be played on an oldies station. And I know that I have readers out there who were in high school during the Motown years and the British Invasion, so this isn't meant as an insult or anything like that.

Sure, part of my horror was in the fact that music I remember so vividly was being played on an oldies station. I accept that I'm old, but those little reminders, especially when they happen for the first time, are a little jarring. What really kind of bothered me more, though, was insult on behalf of Motown and the British Invasion and the early days of rock-n-roll. Does Mr. Mister really belong sandwiched between Martha and the Vandellas and the Beatles? As much as I enjoyed Mr. Mister back in the day (heck, I even owned a copy of their album Welcome to the Real World on cassette -- remember those?), I don't know that I buy the notion of them being "classic." Does anyone besides me even remember Mr. Mister?

It brings to mind a friendly debate that I had more than once with a former colleague of mine who has since retired. Has there been any good music made since the 1960s? Another teacher and I tried to argue that we would be comfortable putting a band like U2 alongside the Beatles and Stones and the gang. I'd add to the list REM, Talking Heads, the Police, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, the Ramones . . . but after a handful of bands, I kind of come up empty. And then, too, there's the question of how would it sound to have, say, the Beach Boys followed by the Chili Peppers?

Are we creating music anymore that's built to last? I'm sure back in the 50s and 60s, the notion didn't exist that this would become the dominant music of our culture, and maybe that thought that this music was a fleeting fad allowed them to create the music that they did. Now that pop and rock rule, have we gotten sloppy? Is anyone going to be psyched to hear Miley Cyrus or the Jonas Brothers on the oldies station 20 years from now? Is anyone going to even remember Miley Cyrus 20 years from now?


Danielle Mari said...

Count me as SO glad that someone has finally pointed out this horrid oversight by radio programmers everywhere. I entertained a quite similar reaction when I heard (no kidding)TIFFANY smashed between the Rolling Stones and Elvis.

But admit it. You knew every word to Mr. Mister, too, didn't you? Come on. You can be honest. You're among friends here.

Mel said...

Yes. I did.

dbz said...

I can definitely see some current bands go on to the pantheon of oldies artists and stand there with their head held high - music is like fashion (and is a fashion in and of itself) where no one era fully resembles another but rather builds on the best parts of the others. A band like The Killers or White Stripes/Raconteurs - they have The Sound of the decade and while they don't sound like an oldies band, they have the key ingredient to becoming one (that, by the way Mr. Mister did not -ahem!): consistency. So yes, one day, when we're old and resting on our walkers, we will hear Mr. Brightside on the oldies station and I, personally, will toss my walker at the wall and start singing along at the top of my voice

"Jealousy, turning saints into the sea/Swimming through sick lullabies/Choking on your alibis"

Oh hell yea!