Pre-Set Buttons

Original Pre-Set Buttons (the first ones I ever remember seeing)

Yesterday as I was out and about driving I began to think about my blog here. My first thought was that I didn’t want it to be hard to write here. As I begin writing my non-fiction triumvirate trilogy (Breaking Radio Silence, Stand or Fall, The Road), I have accepted those books will be hard to write. Therefore I realized I needed a place where writing wasn’t going to be so hard. So I told myself to live up to this blog’s title, ‘Not Necessarily My Blog’ and try to keep it light and stand-alone here So here goes:

When I look at the pre-set buttons on my car’s radio all I can think is that I’m stuck in the past and a total dork, too. My car’s pre-set radio buttons are for Sirius XM stations because that’s all I listen to in the car now (I’m hooked on commercial-free radio). So here are my top pre-set buttons:

1) Yacht Rock Radio: Yes, I listen to this station and yes, this makes me a dork of epic proportions. Why, might you ask? The music is from the 1970’s and 1980’s and was called ‘soft rock’. No screaming guitars and vocals, no headbanging beats, no doot-doot-doot keyboards. Just lush music and vocals about things like sailing, driving, going through the desert on a horse with no name, lamentations about how people messed up relationships, and love will always find a way. For me, it’s the music of my very early childhood on the radio in the car with my parents. It brings back a simpler time and as an adult I can appreciate the chill-out vibe. It’s what I listen to when I just need to chill and wind-down after a long day on the road.

2) 80’s on 8: The home of three of the original MTV V-Jays, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, and Alan Hunter. They also do the Top Forty countdown on the weekends and also, Rick Springfield has a new show on there called ‘Working Class DJ’ where he plays music and tells stories (he’s really cool and funny). It’s 80’s pop and Top 40 though they do dig out songs that weren’t big hits, too. This is what I put on if they’re doing a decent countdown year or if I want something a tad bit generic for my passengers. I find it funny that I think of 80’s Top Forty as a bit generic music for the masses now because back in my day it was seen as nothing but ‘teenybopper’ music.

3) 1st Wave: Bills itself as 80’s Alternative and New Wave though they play stuff from the 70’s and also a bit of punk, too. I found the term ‘alternative’ a little bit odd at first because I don’t remember it being used all that much until about 1990 when Grunge rose up from the wet and rainy streets of Seattle. Before 1990 I would have used the term ‘college rock’ for bands that weren’t being played on regular FM stations like REM and U2 (they got their start on college radio stations, hence the terms ‘college radio’ or ‘college rock’). But this is a really cool station and I try to catch my favorite DJ Richard Blade when he’s on the air because he’s just freaking cool and knows his music from that era (check out his autobiography, ‘World In My Eyes’ to read his stories from back in the day and find out how awesome some of those 80’s artists were in person).

4) Classic Rewind: Billed as ‘classic rock’s second era’ this is rock from the mid 70’s till about 1990 (no Grunge on there yet that I’ve heard). This is what I call the ‘classic rock’ that I grew up with along with the 80’s pop/Top Forty and New Wave/Alternative. Or as I can also say, this is what a lot of white kids in the suburbs listened though there is a clear lack of real heavy-metal on the station other than AC/DC and the occasional Judas Priest song. But Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony now have a show on there that I hope is a regular thing called ‘Happy Hour’ as both of them are funny and of course like all good rock ‘n’ rollers they tell great stories.

5) Prime Country: This is country music from the 80’s and 90’s. My mother was a big country music fan back in the 80’s and I loved 90’s country like Garth Brooks, Clint Black, and Reba McEntire. The great thing about this station is the huge amount of female country music singers they play because from what I’ve heard, women don’t get played on country radio a lot today. Heck, this station even plays The Chicks (the group formerly known as The Dixie Chicks), which I feel is a slightly-subtle ‘fuck you’ to the jack-asses that ran them out of country music back in 2003.

Now I do occasionally listen to other stations but these are my primary choices. I’m not saying there hasn’t been anything good since 2000 because there has been. But as my dad said to me when my music from the 80’s became ‘retro’ (the Generation X term for ‘oldies’), he told me we learned all about that from his generation (the Baby Boomers). Richard Blade in his book describes how his flashback show back in the 90’s became the top-rated show on KROQ radio in Los Angeles, something which flummoxed the powers-that-be that owned the station. But Mr. Blade also said he’d been told by the guy that originally hired him that this music would always be played and that it was timeless.

Will today’s music be that way? Only time will tell. But at some point, I think people put the brakes on their musical evolution and stay in the past, especially with how fucked up and crazy the world is. I don’t believe things will ever stop being crazy from time to time, but at least there will always be the music.

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