[Originally posted February 2011]

Busted radio

Anyone with a functioning iPod or satellite radio knows the musical graveyard that is radio all too well. Absolutely unlistenable in just about every respect. If you have any doubt, you need only have tuned into the Grammys on Sunday night, which should give you a knee-jerk reaction of stabbing yourself in the ears as you subject yourself to what constitutes “music” on your telly. What a load of arse.

That said, living in New York, I envy radio markets with a strong college presence. New York is such a pathetic radio market that for a while, we almost ran right out of the rock format. Swear. You almost always find good shit on college radio, though. Even when sometimes it’s headbanging shit like Seton Hall’s radio station. Even if you have to sit through a half-hour of pretentious bullshit acts like Mumford & Sons to get to the one or two great tunes from great new bands. So when in New York, with little in the way of college/indie stations, I often have no choice but to lean on the classic rock stations when I get in the car (it’s a long story why I don’t have satellite radio in the car, so please don’t make me get into it). But even that’s starting to make me feel like driving the car right off the George Washington Bridge.

I appreciate that by definition, classic rock is a genre comprised of a finite collection of songs. Songs that we’ve all heard before. Songs that have stood the test of time, if you will. That’s not a limiting criterion, mind you, There were tons of good songs from the era. Tons. If you don’t agree, you need to be punched in the balls, simple as that. Albums weren’t just literally a couple of limp singles stuffed amidst eight to nine more filler shit songs. Albums were big and grand and purposeful, and they sometimes comprised of pure gold from the opening hiss (it was all analog, remember?) to the waning silence at the end of the last track. And often these gems are unsung collections. Not your obvious “Sgt. Pepper’s”-type albums. No, I’m talking about albums like Floyd’s “Meddle”. No one ever fucking mentions “Meddle” when asked about mega classic albums. It’s always “Dark Side” or “Zep IV” or some obvious shit like that. Because no one’s cared to take the time to take a good listen to something as brilliant as “Meddle”. Everyone takes the lazy way out: rely on what the radio stations serve you.

And to that end, classic rock stations – arguably one of the last bastions of freely-available listenable music on the radio, that which you’ll find in just about every single market no matter what – need to sort out their playlists. These asshole DJs are getting too comfortable playing the same shitty songs over and over again. Probably on the pretense that they’ve got a finite number of songs from which to choose. These songs aren’t shitty because they’re in heavy rotation. They’re shitty because they were shitty when they were released back in the day. In essence, they’ve been shitty for forty some-odd years. And these assholes need to knock it off.

Here are some awful, dreadful songs perpetually in heavy rotation in classic rock stations all over country; songs which need to be eradicated from all future playlists for the conceivable future. These songs are the polio of radio:

Everything by The Doors, Bruce, or Meatloaf. These three acts comprised nearly 30% of what’s out there, I bet. The Doors weren’t a proper rock band. They were annoying. “Trippy” lyrics that weren’t as profound as they were shit. And Ray Manzarek’s keyboards and organs were easily the most irritating instruments permitted in the ’60s. And that claim accounts for Ian Anderson’s stupid flute. And Bruce? Is there any song he sings that doesn’t sound like he’s straining to pinch a loaf? New Jersey, you are the worst state for producing Bruce and Bon Jovi. And Meatloaf, holy shit. I hate him if for nothing more than the fact that the title for every hit single by this fat fuck is three paragraphs long. That and the fact that every song by this nut sounds like an extended soundtrack to Rocky Horror (I fucking loathe Rocky Horror and all the retarded geeks who go to midnight screenings of it). Oh please regale us with yet another insufferable installment of Bat Out Of Hell, you unimaginative wank.

Blinded By The Light. Manfred Mann was a douche. Bonus punch for this being a Bruce song.

Tom Sawyer. I don’t get Rush. I don’t mean just one or two songs, I mean all of it. It’s just Tom Sawyer gets played way more than any other Rush song. Fans go on about Alex Lifeson’s guitar mastery, they treat Neil Peart like he’s some percussive concoction of Jesus, Ganesh, and the Dalai Lama. Who gives a shit, when these two come together, it’s like some horrific, cacophonous traffic accident. And Geddy Lee, what the fuck. What is up with that shrill wail? Songs like “Tom Sawyer” make me want to invade Canada. Never play Rush ever again.

Lyin’ Eyes. By virtue of the fact that this stupid song is a required staple of every shitty lounge band in Holiday Inns across the world should be enough to strike this song from history for all time. Do it for the children, for God’s sake.

Pearl Jam. Nothing feeds my Peter Pan complex worse than Pearl Jam being liberally included into the playlists of classic rock stations. I get that “Ten” is twenty – 20!! – years ago. But goddamnit, does it need to be classic rock? That’s only half the sting, though. The real burn is that stations don’t limit Pearl Jam play to the first album only, which is arguably the only decent album they ever made. No, these DJs think they’re so clever and they play shit from “Vitalogy” or some other latterly gawdawful crap album. This is bullshit, DJs, knock it off. Stop playing Pearl Jam. Same rule goes for Guns N’ Roses. If you must play GN’R, only songs from the first album. I don’t wanna hear any “November Rain” horseshit.

Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid. There is absolutely NO reason for these songs to be played back to back. Why are these the only two songs to get this treatment? No other two songs in universe get played like these two. It’s plain silly. (Some might argue that “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” get the same treatment, but I’ve heard them play separately often enough that they don’t suffer the same ridiculous coupling these Zep songs bear) They’re both superb songs in their own right, stop treating them like they’re conjoined twins. Pick one and end it.

Billy Joel. If you must – if you really, really have to – the ONLY acceptable place to play any Billy Joel is in some shitty bar either in New Jersey or Long Island, right at last call, you and everyone else are beyond hammered (make sure you do a cursory look-around to be sure), and you’re trying to figure out what song to pick as your final selection in the jukebox. That is the ONLY time you can play Billy Joel without getting punched in the nuts. I’m not saying that’s a great idea, I’m saying you get a bye on such an occasion. And even then, you get two choices and two choices only: Piano Man or Captain Jack. You pick one, not both, just one. And if you pick anything else, everyone to the right of you gets to punch you in the nuts. If you start singing along, everyone to the left of you gets to punch you in the nuts. Given the inebriated state that you’re in, my advice is to just avoid Billy Joel altogether.

I can’t really explain why I give a shit. Why I don’t just concede the radio altogether. Especially for something that pointless as classic rock radio. Because I’ve got classic rock CDs coming out my ears. Well, it’s too late – I already wrote this. Now I’m hitting “save”.