Radar Loved to death by classic radio
By Kelly Merritt
Last week’s news about the 40th anniversary of Elton John’s classic “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album brought to me a flood of early fun, teenage memories.
It also reminded me of an ongoing frustration I have with the radio industry that I bet many readers share. Perhaps we can ease our collective frustration together.
The year 1974 was a good time to be an early teen, or it was for me in south Louisiana. Living in a neighborhood surrounded by woods, the place was a dream for any kid who loved to be outdoors.
Groups of us neighborhood boys would often camp in those woods, building campfires, cooking our meals and sleeping under the stars. Sometimes the camp outs included a midnight venture back through the neighborhood.
In one such outing, I stayed in camp with some friends while about half the group went for a late night ramble. They came back a couple of hours later with a stack of albums. They ran into a “friend,” they said, who loaned the albums to them.
“What a great record collection,” I thought. The albums were divvied out amongst us campers who chose what we wanted to bring home.
Mr. Naive here silently wondered how the “friend” was ever going to get his albums back. Years later it finally dawned on me that the albums must have been stolen.
By then, returning the contraband was impossible as time and age had separated most of the group, and who knew where they came from anyway.
Regardless, that Elton John LP ended up in my home, and I listened through my family’s console record player frequently.
Which brings me to my frustration. When I read that “Brick Road” was released 40 years ago last week, I thought, “Wow, I haven’t heard most of those songs in years.”
Sure, I’ve heard “Benny and the Jets” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” on local classic rock/classic hits radio stations, but the deeper songs, particularly my favorite, “Funeral for a Friend,” were only vague memories.
Why don’t classic rock stations play more songs like that? I hear Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” on radio often, but The Boss has so many better songs that get little, if any, airplay.
And many songs that deserve little airplay get way too much. For instance, hearing the opening bars to Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” sends me into a “Twilight Zone” of anger that makes me want to smash my stereo. By now, I’d rather hear fingernails on a chalkboard then those highly overplayed “classics.”
I’ve often wondered if the classic hits radio playlist is based on a focus group done in 1991 and that all-too-short list became cast in digital stone, never to be diverted from.
This is where I want help from readers. Do you think we can get local classic rock radio stations to expand their playlists? We’ll try. Send me a note or post to this article (the electronic versions obviously) songs that you think we should hear more often. Leave out the songs that we always hear.
I’ll start with a few: “Revival,” by the Allman Brothers Band; “Willie Jones” by the Charlie Daniels Band; nearly anything from Greg Allman’s wonderful 1973 album “Laid Back.” Get your boots kicking with “Waterhole” by the Outlaws or “Long Hard Ride” by the Marshall Tucker Band. Lack of space prevents me from naming so many more.
As you can tell, the music I’m mostly familiar with is blues-based Southern and country rock. But if I can name hundreds of really good songs from those genres that deserve playing time, there must be thousands of good songs in other genres that I never heard because they didn’t achieve “hit” status 40-some-odd years ago.
So readers who love classic rock but want to hear a wider variety of it, help us out and list your favorite rarely heard songs. Post to this article on the Daily Mail’s Facebook site, Twitter account or at www.charlestondailymail.com/opinion.
If classic rock and hit stations won’t play them, at least we can share our own lists amongst ourselves.
Kelly Merritt is editorial page editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @EKMerritt.