There’s this “game” I like to play with my wife while we’re in the car involving the radio. She hates it so much. Basically, I grew up listening to so much “Classic Rock” that I can pretty much instantly identify the artist and song title of 99.999% of songs played on radio stations with a classic rock format. My wife, a casual music lover, hates it when I switch on the radio and ask: “Do you know who this is?” Sometimes I give her little clues, sometimes I don’t. Occasionally she’ll offer a few guesses before giving up, but most of the time she complains and says things like “I don’t like this game” or “Turn the radio off.”
I can’t help it. My mind is a catalogue overflowing with classic rock song/artist data. It’s actually pretty embarrassing considering all the other things I have trouble remembering (like my wedding anniversary). The only time that this information is useful is when we play bar trivia. And as I get old, I don’t do that nearly enough to justify all this useless knowledge.
Now that I’ve relocated to Colorado, I’ve had to cancel my paid Spotify subscription and navigate my new city’s radio stations. After trying a few out, I landed on a pretty good classic rock station that does a good job of playing hits while also spinning deeper album cuts. And while I’m shocked to learn that Red Hot Chili Peppers are now considered classic rock…I’ve been happy overall with my new radio station (99.5FM The Mountain in case you were wondering). There’s a DJ that does a mid-day segment called the classic rock resurrection where a song not typically played in rotation is spotlighted. I’ve heard a few of these, and while I might not have always known the exact song title, I always knew the artist.
That is until last week. Last week I was totally 100% stumped by one of these resurrections—I couldn’t place the artist or the song title. It was vaguely familiar and from the production I could tell it was definitely recorded in the 1980’s. But I was shockingly stumped. Luckily for me, the Shazam app was able to quickly inform me that I was hearing “Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil. Unlike my wife, I actually get really excited whenever I hear an old song I don’t recognize. And I get twice as excited when I end up liking a song I’ve never heard before. So this week I’ve been listening to Midnight Oil’s 1987 album DIESEL AND DUST, which I’ve discovered is really, really good.
Moral of the story: I don’t know as much as I think I do and there’s nothing wrong with not knowing what’s always on the radio.
Classic Rock = at least 20 years old.
I understand what the format is, I just can’t believe I’m so fucking old.
That app Shazam has ruined my favourite contest at trivia nights!
Though useful in this sort of case of course, I’ll concede. Agreed completely about the joy of being stumped – I have a similar pleasure seeing an old episode of Seinfeld that I didn’t remember ever seeing, how did I miss this!
Ha! I think smartphones in general have ruined trivia! I remember the bad old days when I’d hear a song, either on the radio or on a store PA system and like it but not get to find out who was singing it. Thanks to Shazam, this is no longer a problem–which more than makes up for the fact that trivia nights are forever tainted.
As an aside, I was introduced to Aztec Camera via the PA system of a J.C. Penny’s Outlet Store! How bizarre is that? My wife was bargain hunting and I heard “Walk Into WInter” and fell in love with the help of Shazam.
Ahh good point about not being left forever wondering what that song I heard at that place was called!
I’ve heard the name Aztec Camera but can’t say I know the group, I shall explore.
Wow, it’s so interesting that you didn’t know that song! I am always curious about which songs and artists stay in the mainstream of its genre enough that people continue to hear them and those that fade out. One example of this I remember is working with a somewhat younger guy who was obsessed with Eric Clapton but had never really heard anything of Steely Dan. I suspect the patterns are unique to specific markets, too.
I think you’re right about songs/bands being bigger in certain markets. Larger markets with more station choices usually have more independent music stations that can play more obscure stuff.
I’m also fascinated by bands that are more “of the moment” who seem like they’ll remain in the public consciousness forever, but fade away to obscurity. Fame/history is cruel.
Knowing Clapton but not Steely Dan is odd, but not surprising. I need to write up my history with the Dan, because it’s interesting. For such a cool band, they’ve got a TERRIBLE street-rep. I recall seeing comedian George Carlin do a bit on stage about how only lame people listen to Steely Dan.
For the longest time, I shunned music from the 80’s, but as I visit more obscure bands from that era the more I think that is a mistake. The production is weird, but the songs were pretty good.