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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/4/14

Why is the stylus stuck on 1994, then it skips back to 1979?

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I saw a cute saying on Facebook with one of those wild Sesame Street characters doing the talking -- it might have been Oscar, but Sesame Street came a little after my early childhood education and my babyhood and toddler home-watching TV experiences, so it could've been the Cookie Monster or whatever -- and its accompanying banner reads: I might be old, but I got to see all the great rock bands.

I had to laugh. If they'd used a photo of Lou Reed, Mick Jagger, Roger Daltrey, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Cher, Grace Slick, or Blondie, I would've recognized the face right away. Hell, they could've used the distinctive mug of Ed Sullivan and his narrow rigid face would've clicked pronto. But I guess even the earlier watchers of Sesame Street fall into the generation who would now be fans of "Classic Rock".

Yes, indeed, there were some really great rock bands in the '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. I was a little young for the '60s, but I sure enjoyed watching my older cousins dig those tunes. And it's true, I got to see some of the great bands, like most others in my gen-gen-generation, but not all of them. And I guess at the time, we took these bands for granted. Yeah, we thought they were great, but we never would've imagined that "Gimme Three Steps", ""Call me the Breeze", or "Sweet Home Alabama" would be played alternatively every hour on each of the three or four Classic Rock radio stations that are pounding the free airwaves around here 24-7. And if you're a seasoned channel changer like me, you might hear one of these Lynyrd Skynyrd ditties three times within an hour.


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Sometimes I wonder, though, if Rock & Roll has run its groove and is pretty much near the end of its LP. Where are all the new bands playing? They're hard to find on the free airwaves, and it seems that any time now, there might not even be free airwaves. And even on Sirius and other pay mediums, there aren't a lot of channels devoted to new alternative, heavy metal, or punk rock.

Everyone will probably be zapped into Sirius Radio and other such cash-for-credit airwaves soon -- what a drag that's going to be.

Where do young people find their favorite rock bands? Well, according to a very reputable source, YouTube's the place where new tunes are initially discovered by kids. Back in the '60s, '70s, '80s, and even during most of the '90s, there was no such thing as "Classic Rock." Nor were there radio stations that you paid for -- like Sirius -- that had stations that broke music down into such specific stations as Mellow Rock, Underground Garage, '90s Alternative/Grunge, '80s Hair Bands, or Adult Album Rock.

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No. There was just one hit after another, and it was oftentimes all mixed together in a musical mishmash and hard to keep up with. After a while, you didn't hear the hit you liked for a long time because there were plenty of other album-oriented rock groups making records that were being played in its place. All those groups! What great music that was produced and played for free -- all you needed was a radio or a stereo. Bands like Chicago, Parliament Funkadelic, and America were played on progressive rock stations in the late '60s and early '70s. Most "Classic Rock" stations don't play these bands. Some even have obnoxious DJs claiming "that's not rock and roll!"

"There's little agreement on the definition of rock, much less the more specialized genre of classic rock. Rock 'n' roll appears in many dictionaries, but its definitions vary substantially," writes David White in Classic Rock 101 (see: http://classicrock.about.com/od/history/a/crock_IOI.htm). "It's important to make a distinction between classic rock and oldies. Classic rock grew out of a radio format that used to be called AOR -- Album-Oriented Rock. Classic rock describes entire albums, whereas the oldies genre encompasses primarily pop singles that were commercially successful," White writes.

He also emphasizes just because a song was popular when it was released doesn't necessarily make it a Classic Rock staple. And not every hit a group made back then makes it a classic. There are a multitude of bands that got a lot of airplay during these decades that are never heard on the radio anymore. The big thing about Classic Rock that makes a song stick is if "People listen to it, and feel the same way about it today as they did when it was first recorded," White writes. So just like classic movies, I guess a lot of how and why a Classic Rock mainstay is played day after day is for its nostalgic effects. And to actually qualify as Classic Rock, the song must be between 20 and 40 years old. A true 'Classic Rock' piece had to have had mass appeal in its day -- a hit among millions of listeners.

"Just as classic rock radio stations don't agree universally on what exact time period encompasses classic rock, there isn't a hard and fast dictionary definition for us to apply. Through the process of listening to it, learning about it, and discussing it with others, you'll eventually be able to know it when you hear it," White explains, and really, this explains little -- I still have no idea what constitutes a song that has the honor of being deemed a "Classic Rock" fixture.

I get it, ok??? I get that Led Zeppelin is a founder of hard rock, and heavy metal. I really do. I understand. I know this to be true. I realize that Led Zeppelin is a LEGENDARY band. I understand that I am a moron if I do not worship at the altar in front of the 'Houses of the Holy.'

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When is enough enough? In the town that I reluctantly live in and am stuck in, there is a rock station called 'BAD DOG.' They play a mix of 70's, 80's, 90's, 2000's, and current music. You would think that would be a good format right? Play enough variety of rock to please everybody, right?

You're wrong.

This radio station might as well be called 'BLACK DOG'. Every single hour, you will hear one Led Zeppelin song, one AC/DC song, one ZZ Top song, and one Aerosmith song, followed by the top latest hits from the current bands that you are also sick of. You can literally set your watch to Led Zeppelin. They will also throw one of four Guns n Roses songs, one of four Judas Priest songs, and a Rush song. And the songs of course are all the songs by the various bands that you have been sick of since the late 80s because radio stations play NOTHING ELSE.

Instead of playing songs like 'A Touch of Evil' by Judas Priest, we get 'Breaking the Law, and 'Living After Midnight'. Think they will even play something like 'Victim of Changes' or 'Diamonds and Rust'?
(italicized excerpt was taken from "Stairway to Humdrum, Highway to...HEADACHES!!!" (see: http://williamtelltale.blogspot.com/2013/05/stairway-to-humdrum-highway-toheadaches.html).

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Samuel Vargo worked as a full-time reporter and editor for more than 20 years at a number of daily newspapers and business journals. He was also an adjunct English professor at colleges and universities in Ohio, West Virginia, Mississippi (more...)
 

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