Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Best Year in Music?

When I heard WXPN was having a contest to choose the best year in rock music, I had to chime in. The ads are funny and surprisingly witty for a radio station that takes itself far too seriously. They say they are “Vinyl at Heart.” Don’t believe it. My view has always been that the station needs a good clearing out of all the DJ’s born before 1960! I was born before 1960 but I don’t wear my thinning grey hair in a scrawny ponytail that hangs over a tie-dyed tee-shirt. That is a parody worthy of Portlandia. Personally, I am sick to death of the re-playing of classic songs simply because they warm the heartstrings of rock and roll grandparents who went to Woodstock, drive Subaru Outbacks and fit the demographic. It isn’t that Janis Joplin is awful; I simply have no interest in hearing the songs ever again. Same for many others of that era. Born to be Wild? Did Steppenwolf ever write another tune? I’ve ceased caring. The station’s wholesale ignorance of Punk, the period (when art, subculture and music had an inspired relationship) is remarkable. In contrast, the in-yer-face spokesman for “1979” is a sarcastic hippy-hater decrying 1967. Wow. Putting down Peace and Love? That is mindful for WXPN! As for all the current music the station backs earnestly, there is another bone to pick. Roughly based on soulful or bluesy flashbacks with better drum production, it is the 70‘s repackaged without the danger. This may explain why a band like My Morning Jacket gets to their present, godly standing. They are the most banal, derivative group I have ever heard. I’d rather listen to Adele or Coldplay! Though WXPN promotes their college radio status as wild and crazy, they broadcast a constant stream of boomer-friendly tunes that are already hyped nationally. Don’t let the “Philly-Local” promotions fool you. There is tons of excellent music in Philly that never gets anywhere near the imaginary turntables of University City. Most of these are hardcore bands whose 7-inch 45’s (often pressed on red or yellow vinyl) fill budget bins at the last remaining record stores on South Street. So, surprise. I will cast my vote for 1979, alas. Not sure how that demarcation works. Why not ‘77 or ‘78? At least ‘79 includes Joy Division. If you work at WXPN, you may have to Google the doomed band (that became New Order) on your hippy Smartphone. And, just in case everyone thinks I’m a stuffy aged punk, I state here (in public) that I sing loudly along to any DOORS song I hear on classic radio. Especially when drunk, wearing black leather jeans and heading to my local Roadhouse for a beer.

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