We’ve gone our entire lives, taking music along with us every step of the way. From the time we’re born and exposed to a singing nursery rhyme, to the comfort music we turn to when we want to feel good today.
Come along as I take you on a historical tour of my taste in music.
Of course, I was born back in the days before everything had a music bed. Now, you brace yourself to hear a song when you open a birthday card or someone’s ringtone goes off.
I spent my single digit years listening to an assortment of polkas, big bands and church music. But around the time I was 8 or so, the British Invasion began and mop-haired bands with names like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and such became all the rage.
I lived in a big Beatles neighborhood. I remember kids wearing “I like Paul” and “I like John” buttons. Funny, I don’t remember any Ringo buttons. The music I heard from my TV shows included “Let the sunshine in” by Pebbles & Bam Bam and later that decade, “The Monkees” had us tuning in every Monday to hear the latest songs. All the while, rock was evolving, going from the pop to the psychedelic and soul music. I liked them all.
I basically am a music sponge and there are very few forms I don’t enjoy. Now, I do have an endurance limit on opera and reggae is fine as long as you let me know when the last song ended and the new one has started.
In high school, KHJ, the AM powerhouse in Los Angeles, kept the hits coming. Most were 3-minute songs, with the occasional breakthrough like “American Pie” that had to be played in it’s entirety. As high school became college, the songs got longer and rockier. One of the badges of honor in Terry Hall at the University of Washington was to have the most expensive speakers possible so that you could crank Pink Floyd’s “Dark side of the moon” or Aerosmith’s “Train kept a rollin'” at maximum level.
While I enjoy going to channel 25 on my satellite every now and then, I get restless. If I had to pick a category of music preference, I’d have to say “rocker.” It reminds me of those college days. Robin Trower, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foghat, you name it.
I managed to surround myself with rock, even after I graduated and went to work at a small radio station in Yakima, Washington. This was my first professional radio job. When I arrived, it was a daytime radio station (yep, we signed off at sunset) with a 1-point something rating. By pushing the limits on the air, Brady Layman’s musical diversity and people like Skip Tucker messing with the minds of the listeners, we had us a radio station. Oh, we played the Bay City Rollers, but we also worked in album cuts of Foghat, or Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” The younger listeners showed up and in some day-parts, we increased the ratings 9-fold!
But soon, I wandered across town and, shortly after that, over to Seattle, where I found myself at Middle of the Road KOMO-AM 1000. I remember sitting in a room with Larry Nelson as he interviewed Johnny Mathis and at the Paramount talking to Wayne Newton. My rockin’ times were behind me.
After four years, I was cut loose and found myself at KLSY, which at the time was “Classy-FM.” We’re talking Carpenters, Anne Murray, Christopher Cross and others on the soft side. Oh, I heard some of the big hits on the other station in town—KUBE. “Love Shack”, the Coolio hits, you know, fun stuff like that. But all I could do was sneak in a listen every now and then. For some reason, I felt a loyalty to the music we played, as I felt it would help me better connect to the audience. So, I lost track of what was happening in rock.
Over my 19 years at KLSY, it progressed slowly and even for a brief while, gave Star 101.5 a run for their money. Program Director and friend Barry McKay pushed the envelope on music and was helping us gain ground. It was through the personal sabotage of another employee that Barry had the reigns taken away, the station returned to that no-man’s land of in-between what WARM played and what STAR played and the station slowly withered away.
When we were thrown a surprise going away party, I went away, thinking I was done with radio. But anyone who’s ever been there knows, it’s a disease. Something keeps calling you back. So, I applied and was added to weekends and fill-duty at the brand new Wolf country station in Seattle. I had never, I mean EVER liked country music…but the stuff I found myself playing–Keith Urban, Trace Adkins, Kenny Chesney–won me over. After a year, I decided giving up sleep on a Sunday morning for $10 really wasn’t in my long-term interest and I let radio go.
Right now, I truly am all over the board. Give me Macklemore, Taylor Swift, Usher, Blake Shelton, Guns ‘n Roses and I’m a happy guy. This summer’s list of concerts included Boston, Don Henley, A blues festival at the winery, GNR last Friday night and next month, one more winery visit with Joe Walsh.
Bottom line–I love music, I appreciate music, and you have to admit–as you reflect back on your life, there’s a song connected to almost every important moment. The “Sweetheart’s Ball” theme of ‘Precious & Few’ my junior year of high school. “They’re coming to take me away”, while listening to Dr. Demento in College.
These days, when I’m not listening to talk radio, it’s off to either my phone or the satellite and a nice little musical escape. I can choose a decade, rock my brains out, or even slip in a little Big Band song or two.
Music is such a powerful part of our lives. It resurfaces feelings and stimulates memories. Right now, I’m going to go back to last Friday night’s concert with the words, “Alexa, play Paradise City by Guns ‘n Roses.”
I love technology.