Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Songs about...the radio

Listening to Sirius in my wife's care this evening got me thinking about the radio, how it's changed over the years and all the songs written about it. Here's a sampling of some of them. I'm sure there are a few great ones I missed.

The Selecter - "On My Radio" : The Selecter are a bit of a forgotten band from the second wave of ska, but this quirky track that I first heard on the This Are Two Tone comp is distinctively different from its peers.

Joe Jackson - "On Your Radio" : I'm the Man is perhaps Joe Jackson's most biting record of his new wave period and no song is more indicative of that than this.

The Clash - "This is Radio Clash" : I still need to get a copy of this 12". It's not their best work, but it still contains many of the elements of their greatness: politics, passion and a desire to push beyond the limits of punk without abandoning it.

Elvis Costello - "Radio Radio" : This is the one he wasn't supposed to play on SNL, but did anyway. It's a scathing attack on the bad guys.

Down By Law - "Nothing Good on the Radio" : It's a shame I could only find the live version, because the lyrics have some funny jabs at 90s pop/rock radio.


The Ramones - "Do You Remember Rock n Roll Radio?" : The radio had more allure when I was a kid, but I really don't remember a time when it was really cool. Even though the answer for me is "no," I still love this tune.

Queen - "Radio Ga Ga" : In 1984, I didn't understand what was afoot in radio. This song was the first intimation that things were going sour.

The Blasters - "Border Radio" : I guess you have to live near the Mexican border to really get this one. Of course, Wall of Voodoo also wrote about border blasters and that one connects with me.

Wall of Voodoo = "Mexican Radio" : While I don't totally get it first hand, the imagery here is strong enough here that I understand and enjoy the song.

The Buggles - "Video Killed the Radio Star" : While I grew up in the music video generation (and still enjoy watching them), I think there's a lot of truth to this. Music has always been about image, but music videos amplified that terribly.

The Clash - "Capitol Radio" : Another great tune form the only band that matters.

Public Enemy - "How to Kill a Radio Consultant" : I bet a lot of people had wondered about this by the time it came out in 1991.

REM - "Radio Free Europe" : Does this have anything to do with the pro-democracy broadcasting aimed at Eastern Europe in the post-WWII world or did Michael Stipe just think it was a cool title?

Roger Waters - "Radio Waves" : This comes from Radio KAOS, Waters' concept album which features the voice of FM radio legend Jim Ladd.

The Ravyns - "Raised on the Radio" : While most best remember this from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the Ravyns were kind of a big band...for Baltimore. C'mon, the only other national acts we had were Kix and Crack the Sky. The Ravyns don't seem too bad now, huh?

Rush - "Spirit of Radio" : The lines they grabbed and twisted from Simon & Garfunkel are among the best on the subject.

Autograph - "Turn Up the Radio": Things go better with rock. Well, maybe so, but nothing goes well with this clichéd piece of AOR crap. Nonetheless, I was 13 in 1984 and I loved it. Today, I recognize that "turn off the radio" would be better advice if this comes on.



Blogger Jeff said...

Just out of curiosity do you have a favoirte Sirius station? Quite honestly, I don't know if I could live without it while at work. I find myself listening to Lithium (90's station) the most.

2:37 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

I don't actually have it. It's in my wife's car. I think I like Underground Garage the most, but probably listen to 1st Wave the most as she has that programmed, but not UG.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

My Sirius has been fritzing but Underground Garage is my drug. Best damn station I've ever heard.

This was a great topic and I was especially looking for Down By Law in this one. Great song, great lyrics, even if the performers are either out of the biz or passed on. It was genius.

1:11 AM  

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