Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt

Day 17

Day 17. A song that you heard often on the radio

It's been about fifteen years since I've listened to the radio: just as soon as I could afford do, I replaced the stock AM/FM radio in my Saturn with a CD player. Who wants to listen to the radio when you can listen to your own music?

Given that, I'll tweak this question to suit my needs. How about a song that I often played on the radio? When I was in high school, I was fortunate enough to have an early morning slot on the school's somewhat weakly powered FM station - which meant that classmates would sometimes listen to the show on the way to school. At other times, I'd have very late night slots, though, which would mean I could play pretty much whatever the hell I wanted to, figuring that it was extremely unlikely that anyone would be listening at such a late hour.

The only rules - other than the usual FCC proscriptions against profanity, etc. - were that I had to play a couple of songs before the end of the show from three bins of records sent to the station by record labels. The newest ones were in one bin; the other two hard progressively older material in them. This was the mid 1980s, so most of that stuff was pretty weak; I wasn't in a mood to play Simple Minds or Shriekback or whatever was there, but there were usually some things that I didn't mind too much.

I have only the vaguest memories of what I played on the radio - the strongest memory I have, albeit still extremely flimsy, is that of a memorable morning with call-ins from other students who were annoyed at something or other, probably my criticizing some song they didn't like or not honoring a request for Love Removal Machine or whatever. Some girl wound up cursing up a storm, and I didn't quite manage to cut her off in time for at least one F-bomb to hit the air... well, good thing our signal was weak and that we didn't have too many listeners in the first place. Still, those that were listening would sometimes phone in to say thank you for playing Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Severed Heads, Revolting Cocks (or, as we'd say it, Revolting Roosters), The Carpenters, or whatever else I felt like. (Yes, I did once mix two copies of Wiseblood's Death Rape 2000 so as to keep it going for twenty minutes. If anyone still had their radio on after that, I'd have been very surprised.)

Here's a sample of some of the shiny, happy music I'd play:

Mind you, I still think this is a damned good song.

To place this in some historical context, thought, I would like to take this moment to point out that I was not a goth, a punk, or whatever. I didn't wear any black clothing; I wore 501s and flannel, a beard and a flattop. I was doing my best to create an identity for myself in the absence of any kind of role models. This was long, long before the Internet and any hope of finding like minded fellers; instead, I did the best with what I had. Yes, it probably looked ridiculous - I mean, I was only 17, and I was trying to look like I was 25 - but it seemed right. I liked this music - nay, still like this music - because it seems to me to be worlds apart from the cheap "shocking" crap put out by the likes of Marilyn Manson. Years later, I think shortly after Trent Reznor signed MM, there was a ridiculous amount of publicity trying to explain precisely how shocking MM were (because they borrowed serial killers' names, or something), but the music was wussy as hell and the lyrics mostly just plain stupid. There's a raw power to Swans and a naked, ugly, degrading beauty to the lyrics here; it conjures up all kinds of upsetting imagery, transcending the simpleness of the song and becoming something remarkable in the process. I like to think of this music as the equivalent of Larry Clark's photography: kind of beautiful, kind of upsetting, and evocative of a time and place that was miles away from the affluent middle class town where I went to high school.

  • It's July 2013.

    Remember when I wrote a lot on LiveJournal? Yeah, me neither.

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