Sunday, April 10, 2005

White Album Mono

While I appreciate and often myself delve into commentary about national issues of the day, especially ones with political implications that lend themselves to divisiveness, I am determined not to constantly devote space here to the things about which everyone else in the blogosphere is ruminating. Others are better at spending all their time talking about Tom Delay and the Mainstream Media. Or, at least, they devote enough bits and bytes to it to appear like they've got it covered.

And may I say, while there's a lot of great commentary out there, and sometimes even a unique idea or two, it's easy to get lost in adding one's own voice to an already overwhelming cacophony of he-said she-said and my-opinion-matters-most. I don't wanna get lost in it.

That said (and understanding that I've just added my own blather to the cacophony), I want to tell you about something simple and great.

It's 99.5 on the FM dial, The Mountain, Denver's preeminent, independently owned, classic-rock station. Now I'm not talking about "classic rock" like Foghat or .38 Special or Blue Oyster Cult or whatever the other guys (it seems like all "classic-rock" stations are named either "The Hawk," "The Hammer," The Eagle," "The Rock," "The Riff," or whatever) tend to play.

I'm talking about the really good stuff. Dylan, The Beatles, The Stones, Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Who, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, The Band, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, The Temptations, the folk singers, the blues guys, all of the movers and shakers in the '60s and '70s, and their progeny in the '80's through today (read U2, REM, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, etc.) Listen long enough and you're likely to hear The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Clash, Curtis Mayfield, Johnny Cash, XTC, Emmylou Harris, the inestimable Midnight Oil, Los Lobos, maybe even The Pogues.

The thing is, they play the songs you always hear AND the songs you only hear when you're at home with your CD collection and your stereo. Listen to it online at the link I put up there.

Now, this is not mind-blowing, change-your-life kind of stuff. Unless you love music like I do. Then it's easy to get wrapped up in the fact that every DJ is genuninely knowledgable: knows the history and inside scoop of the bands, the connections between one band and another, the common themes linking baroque, classical, gospel, ragtime, jazz, blues, rock, and pop.

Or the fact that before every relatively rare commercial break, the DJ leaves the listener with a teaser such as: "This next song was written by a Canadian who many regard as the godfather of Grunge." After the commercial, the listener in this example is told about Neil Young and his liner notes to "Heart of Gold": "This song put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon bacame a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there."

The gem--in my opinion--of The Mountain's various programs is Breakfast with the Beatles. For 3 hours every Sunday morning, Archer (forgive the single name; he's been in the business for a long time) spins Beatles sets, whole albums, alternative versions, rarities, and spin-offs. It's genious because of the depth of the commentary and the analysis.

Archer is the only person I've experienced who can rattle off details of one cut of Rocky Racoon and tell you all the ways it differs from another (volume differences, mixing parameters, vocal inflections, engineering nuances, recording ambiance, who ate what for breakfast the day of the session, etc). And he knows everything there is to know about the Beatles themselves: from what they emerged, how politics and culture influenced them and vice versa, the legacies.

This morning for instance, Archer spun all 4 sides of the original U.K. mono version of the White Album, which--to a guy like me who's owned the U.S. stereo version of the White Album since he was 16 and knows it in and out--was like hearing stories about a good friend's past that you've never heard before.

Plus, how often do you hear "Julia" on the radio?

The best part of it was having my 13-month-old in my arms and dancing around the house with her as she bounced up and down, smiling and spinning and Stevie Wonder head-swaying.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Jesse said...

good post..

you might want to check out my old hometown's radio station.. it's not classic rock but it like no other radio station I've ever heard.. they're completely devoted to playing REAL alternative music. There's always something at least interesting playing..

They're WBER in Rochester and the website is http://wber.monroe.edu

You can listen from there, too...

4:49 PM  
Blogger The Accipiter said...

Thanks for the comment, Jesse. I'm always interested in media outlets (in this case radio stations) doing innovative, inspiring work. I'll check it out when I get a chance.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HERE IN DETROIT WE HAVE OUR OWN BEATLES EXPERT. HIS NAME IS MIKE ANDERSON, AND UP UNTIL JUST LAST YEAR, HAD HIS OWN BEATLES SHOW ON 94.7 WCSX. HIS COLLECTION IS THE LARGEST WE HAVE EVER SEEN. IN WCSXS INFINITE WISDOM, CUT HIS SHOW DOWN TO 15 MIN A DAY. THEY WONT GIVE HIM HIS OWN HOUR OR A NEW SHOW FOR THAT MATTER. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN TALKING TO HIM CALL HIM AT 248 449 1547.

9:09 AM  

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