13 January 2012
This has been a long time ‘coming. Been 11 years this month since I stumbled onto RP via Shoutcast. Jumped into the webpage soon after and joined up a year or so later. The timing of discovering RP was pure luck because terradio in Cleveland took a permanent dive south around the end of the 90's other than the good old college stations. But tuning in once a week for 2 hours of something in particular just don't do it. Then they are so low power as to make them not worth the hassle of trying to listen in the car. It was down to mixtapes or talk radio.
RP has changed my musical experience so much in the past 11 years. I was never one to really watch MTV or music videos in general. I didn't want to see a visual association of a certain piece of music. I wanted to keep my own intact. Radio was not meant to have visual images attached to it. It was about the description or just plain listening to music. The listener was then to paint their own images and attachments. Much like reading a book. Listening can be both active and passive. There's something going on that it compliments or its just part of the pink noise in the background.
Terradio is mobile, the Internet streaming not so until only very recently. So what has gone on in the past 11 years of listening here ? Music is no longer my primary mental organizer. Primarily because it is no longer a mobile experience. Music has been played constantly in my life since I can remember, with my dad always having something going in the background. For my dad it was KABL in San Francisco in the 50's and 60's. Primarily easy listening, jazz, classical but mostly more instrumentally oriented than lyrically. Then came the British Invasion, Ed Sullivan and KEWB for me. I had something different to listen to on my own. Music became something that I would associate certain events in life, a snap shot of feelings and memories of where I was or what I was doing when I first heard the song. I can remember where I was the first time I heard Abbey Road. It was at HS my senior year in a particular classroom, where the class was interrupted just to listen to the whole album. I remember where I was the first time that my mom heard Rainy Day Women on the radio and me laughing real hard over why I was laughing in the first place. We were driving down Newport Blvd. going past the old Lido Theatre just past the Arches and PCH in the rain in the car. I was being questioned about singing stoned out loud with a certain inflection. I remember where I was the first time I heard Sultans of Swing. It was at a red light at the intersection of Crain, Water and Lake streets, just a block away from JB's in Kent where live music was home in Kent. Music was just as much about places as other things.
The past ten years ago, easily most of the new music I have been exposed to has been from here. And there is one hell of a lot of new to me music here. Here has been in just two places in the past 10 years I have called home. New music was no longer mobile. It became a stationary experience. I remember where I heard it first, but the place no longer mattered. Time didn't matter as much either, because it was the old same place.
I stopped pretty much listening for the past two years, because we had a brief flash of terradio brilliance that made mobile listening a real joy again. Old Cleveland style radio from the 70's when it was live and music would be played to go along with being stuck in a city wide gridlock snow emergency. Corny but predictable, something like REO's Ride Out The Storm would be played and many other traffic jam songs that made it a group or at least an event experience. Snow storms and blizzards have marked significant memories in my life. Especially music.
I will always associate Layla with a snowstorm. I set off hitchhiking from Kent, Ohio to visit a friend in Elizabethtown, Pa, a 4 to 5 hour ride in your own car at the time. I made it as far as Old exit 12, Breezewood on the Pa turnpike. I didn't bother paying attention to any weather reports, I was very young and dumb. Turns out it starts snowing as I get across the state line from Ohio to Pa. Its ok though, got a ride all the way to Breezewood, almost two thirds of the way there. The guy was going to DC. It was getting pretty bad on the other side of Pittsburgh going through the tunnels. Cars were spinning out or drivers simply pulled over and gave up. The guy I was riding with was doing rather well, a regular cross country commuter, non plussed by the snow.
When we finally get to Breezewood, which also happens to be the gateway to skiing in Pa., there is a foot of snow on the ground.
Turns out that everyone using Breezewood is either coming from DC headed west or going to DC headed south. No one goes east from Breezewood. There I stand with my hand written East sign for a couple of hours with only a couple of nibbles. The snow just kept getting deeper and deeper. I was getting pretty damn cold and a little scared about thinking something really wrong was going on. I'm sure I didn't have enough money to cop a room or any other way of preserving myself from the weather.
I finally gave up and decided that I better head home and save my sorry ass before I froze to death and died. I flipped over my sign to West and started to pray for a ride. Finally a car pulled over and asked where I was headed. I said Ohio, they said hop in and I did. I was greeted with 3 guys dressed as what would have been considered freaks (complimentarily) back in the day. There was that old familiar aroma of weed in the upholstery. We get going and head west. The car was a boat by the standards of the day. More than likely a Ford Fairlane with all the toys and a good old 8 Track. Very sure footed in the snow. Layla was still a brand new album, they had it and we ended up listening to it over and over the rest of the way back. As we got to know each other a little some really good weed was broken out. Two of the guys were traveling together, the third was a friend that they were dropping off along the way. I have long forgotten their final destination on that very snowy night.
They explained to me that there was no east bound traffic at Breezewood and that I was totally screwed and would never get east from there even in the best of times. I settled back, thankful that I was warm, dry and stoned listening to some really good music, headed home. Being an Allman Bro and Cream fan already, finding out that Duane was playing made it all the better. Meanwhile, the snow was so bad, they closed the Pa turnpike just after we got back on from dropping off the third guy. Iffen you were already on, then fair thee well and good luck. Otherwise, they shut the gates and no more were allowed on. We had plenty of gas, grass and Layla so we pressed on. 5 hours after they rescued me, they literally dropped me off in front of my doorstop. I have loved getting stoned and heading out in snowstorms with a full tank of gas and tunes with no particular place to go other than for a ride in the snow and to listen to music. My primary vehicle was a 1973 VW bus with 4 wheel studded snows so I was never really asking for trouble out there. Just the fun of being out there and making tracks in fresh snow listening to music in the middle of the night. That bus had 58 K on it in its first 18 months. It was my 21st B'day present to myself. It had been to all 4 coasts in that short time. 8 tracks were state of the art and I was recording my own mixtapes back then with the specific purpose of listening to while driving, it was all about the segue, there was no random on tape. Snow storms were the primary motivation for the mixes, not desert islands.
Heck, I had a Lear Jet 8 track with a built in headphone jack, before they were outlawed (and bookshelf speakers in the back for other occasions). A splitter and a pair of open air Senheissers for the front seat, me or we could listen and hold a conversation with the phones on while tooling around. Missed many an exit back in the day. Then there was the art of shimming the carts with matchbook covers. Memories.
Now we have better rigs in our cars than our homes in many cases. We don't even play CD's much anymore. We plug in our I - pods or flash drives hit playlist or random and move on. We bring the music to the road now, we no longer find it on the road anymore. Music is not very much of a group experience anymore because of the loss of terradio. It has become fragmented and niched, like so much of the rest of the world. Music is still as much a part of my life as it ever has been, maybe even more so, because I know how to manipulate moods and memories with it. But there is a 10 year void of these associations now. More than likely that will be the way it is from this point on.
This is what I thought of about losing terradio for the last time when the last gasp of my new friend went off the air. So I'm back as a full time listener again, listening to my own library every once in a while. I'm glad and feel lucky that RP is still here 11 years later. I've gotten back into B's groove again. Didn't take long. It seems that this is the way of broadcast music for the unforeseeable future. RP is the ground floor of this new style. It has been the key to keeping music important in my life. It is community based music. A social media has been built around a musical theme along the way. Light years ahead of where we seem to be ending up with MySpace and Facebook. They don't have soundtracks, this one does.
20 January 2012
As I reread this, it feels ok. Don't know why I sat on it before sharing. Perhaps it was the way the day felt and how I felt after being wistful. Makes me wonder what role music will have in the future of our lives. I guess that Operas were the original music videos. The songs just got shorter along the way. Never cared much for the Opera, but I appreciate it. But I really did enjoy seeing Tommy done live and Pink Floyd, well their shows are as much as the visual accompaniments as the music, so who knows. Tommy is another road album to me. River roads, especially the along the Delaware heading south from New Hope to Langhorne. Very tricky road, its where Jessica Savitch met her end and checked out of life. Hmmm. The musical associations will never go away in my mind.
But to end on a happy note, The Doors are forever SoCal and the beach, especially Moonlight Drive. Everyone had an 8 Track copy of Strange Days in their cars as well as the Yardbirds Greatest Hits back then. Sgt. Pepper takes me back to the beach on sunny days, too.
Can't and don't want to imagine life without music. Keep on streaming, B & R and the rest of us !