The Soundtrack of Our Lives

Okay, so while celebrating my upcoming 36th anniversary in the news business and peppering said celebration with meaningful musical quotes, I attributed “What a long, strange trip it’s been” to the Beatles.

Of course, it was the Grateful Dead. Thank you, Eric Duplantis, for the keen eye!

Nevertheless, by next week it’ll be time for a celebration, which will consist of a loud “Whoopee!” and a toast of Blanton’s to whoever happens to be in the vicinity, followed by a binge of “Longmire” episodes.

It can’t be that I’m getting old and forgetful. What fool mistakes the Dead for the Beatles? I was in radio for eight years, and by the time I was done with that gig, I could tell you the title, artist, record label, total time and whether or not the song had a cold start and end or a fade, of practically every record or CD in the studio. Lately I find myself struggling to remember if Pete Seeger sang “Against the Wind” or if it was Bob Seger.

Music is the soundtrack of our lives, it’s been said. That it was said in a National Association of Broadcasters public service announcement voiced by James Earl Jones made the notion really stick. Who can ignore James Earl Jones? Might as well try to ignore Darth Vader.

Radio was probably the most fun job I ever had. I never had so much fun making so little money. The ol’ Magic 105, formerly KFRA, redubbed KFMV-FM/KFRA-AM back in about 1985. I went to work for ‘em in 1986. I was never a very good deejay, but I had a lot of fun, eventually becoming program director and news director before the whole kit and caboodle went under in 1994.

The control room at Magic 105 was huge, with carpeted floor and wall. We had decent, if old, equipment, and were spinning vinyl when I got there, CDs by the time we shut the doors.

There were two BIG speakers in the control room that I’m told were built by the late Neil Minor from Realistic components.

I ran the graveyard shift for a few years, and I’m here to tell you that the Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove” cranked up about three-quarters in volume through those speakers cost me a few fillings in my teeth! Yet at the same time, a flirting, jazzy play of “Riviera Paradise” by Stevie Ray Vaughn sounded nearly celestial.

Sometimes, late at night, I’d turn off all the lights and just work by the various glowing LEDs, small lamps, backlit meter displays and other assorted miniscule light sources. It was kinda cool to work a night shift that way. Play Styx’ “Come Sail Away” and it felt like a starship. Slap Boston’s “Long Time” into a CD deck and all was right with the world.

I was raised in a country music household, and I’m talking old country. Dad’s idea of country was Jimmy Rodgers and that era’s big names. As a teen, I was carrying a few dozen eight-tracks clattering around in my Mustang, and surely wore out multiple copies of AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” Pat Benatar’s “Crimes of Passion,” Bob Seger’s (see, I do know who it was!) “Against the Wind” and Queen’s “The Game,” among many, many more. To my friends’ dismay, I also had some Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow and John Denver onboard. I am nothing if not well-rounded.

Now-a-days I’m on a Southern rock kick. Can’t get enough of it. There ought to be a Southern rock channel on Sirius XM, but I imagine someone would complain about it in this current touchy-feely-offended environment. Never mind that performers like Clapton, the Allmans, Zeppelin and many, many others were inspired by the African-American artists of yesteryear (at the time, anyway).

I can turn on “Statesboro Blues” or Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” and just can’t help but feel better about whatever’s bothering me at the moment. Throw in Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” and it’s all good, friends and neighbors, it’s all good.

I’m rambling. I know. Wait, there’s a song in there, isn’t there?

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