Normally, Rocks Off gets all giddy when we get to put together a playlist to celebrate an obscure holiday. However, today is World Radio Day, as declared by last year by the United Nations (the best source of obscure holidays), and it's put us in a foul mood.
The reason is that recent automotive mishaps have left us driving a '97 Ford Escort with no MP3 input, so no Internet radio, no podcasts, and none of our own music library since we went 100 percent digital. We're stuck with regular, awful Houston FM radio, and since KPFT's Sound Awake and RadioACTIVE aren't on during our drive, that means we're more or less without good musical accompaniment while experiencing 290's ever more astounding displays of rubbernecking slowdowns.
So World Radio Day can kiss us where the poop comes out. Maybe if someone had focused on radio sooner we wouldn't be stuck in the miasma we are now. Here's five songs that agree with us.
Dead Kennedys, "Pull My Strings": Not just about radio, but mainstream music in general. The Dead Kennedys pulled one of the most punk rock things ever at the 1980 Bay Area Music Awards, when they were nominated for best New Wave act. Rather than playing "California Uber Alles," they dropped their one and only performance of "Pull My Strings," a bitter, profanity-laden dig at the entire music industry.
They also parodied the Knacks' "My Sharona" in the song, changing the chorus to "Drool drool drool drool drool drool/ My payola," referring to labels' illegal practice of bribing radio stations to push songs. But seriously, are the Dead Kennedys ever not relevant to a situation?
Leftover Crack, "Clear Channel (Fuck Off)": "The same old song of compromise went platinum yesterday." Preach on, brothers. Don't get us wrong, though. It's at least halfway our fault that the airwaves are full of crap. We're the ones who listen to it, and demand determines supply. We're not going to blame ClearChannel if they open a manure store somewhere that buys manure like Zebra Cakes.
Harry Chapin, "W.O.L.D": That's a bit too much rage, we think. Let's take it down a notch. Harry Chapin left this world the year we were born, pretty fitting for someone now watching radio die. "W.O.L.D" has been all around us since we can remember, and its sad tale of a man stuck in the "glamorous" life of a DJ has always haunted us. Right now, we kind of miss Zakk United - now there was a guy who was willing to give some local people a shot on the big waves with the Texas Buzz gig, and we were always grateful.
R.E.M., "Radio Song": The saddest thing in radio always seems to be the death of the idea that a DJ can control content, that they can be brave explorers in the audio landscape and bring us back their treasures. It was weird to wake up one day and realize that a movie as awesome as Pump Up the Volume is now completely irrelevant. We think this song from Out of Time sums that up nicely.
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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, "The Last DJ": This last tune goes out to the DJs who are still out on the FM dial keeping the beat and keeping it strong. To Phil Schawe, Rhonda Garner, Jeffrey Thames here in town, our connections in Illinois at Subterranean Mick, Carl, and Rae who play H-Town hopefuls, all those who stand strong believing in their role to make sure only the best graces the airwaves, and all those we've lost.
Happy World Radio Day!