I spent the first half of my radio career as a disc jockey on music stations. That meant playing many of the same songs and artists over and over and over ad nauseam.
To this day, I still can’t sit through a Led Zeppelin, Yes, or Pink Floyd song. It would be fine with me if I’m never exposed again to Pearl Jam, Billy Squier, or Bryan Adams. For a long time, because my daughter became obsessed with them, even The Beatles were burned out in my brain.
Recently, I’ve rediscovered some artists whose tunes I grew to really dislike in those years, but after not hearing them for a long time, am enjoying again. Singers like Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow, and Stevie Nicks. Bands like Electric Light Orchestra, Genesis, and Dire Straits.
The other day, my wife and were driving around listening to Elton John’s legendary 1973 double album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” It sounded great — even the songs I didn’t remember the lyrics to.
I also borrowed Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” concert album from the public library and marveled at the energy he and his band (led by Leon Russell) exerted. It also occurred to me that Cocker could never become a rock star in this era. Can you imagine him, with that gravelly voice and herky-jerky moves, making it past even the first round on “The Voice” or “American Idol”?
Like most of my fellow senior citizens, I don’t pay any attention to music that’s hot today. I know the names of some artists (e.g. Lizzo, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa), but I couldn’t name any of their songs. However, my friend Bob has introduced me to a bunch of contemporary blues artists from the last decade or two who I’ve become a fan of (e.g. Beth Hart, Samantha Fish, Gov’t Mule). And I’ve always loved anything Bonnie Raitt does.
In our living room sits my huge collection of vinyl albums, but I can’t tell you the last time I put a record on our turntable. Yes, we still have one of those, hooked up to a stereo system from last century, complete with a tuner and cassette deck we also never use.
There was a time when everyone I knew had a similar setup. For some of my generation, it was our prized possession, easily the most valuable thing we owned. But stereos long ago fell by the wayside, replaced by streaming audio services and devices. Very few homes have such a system now, and I’d be surprised to hear that any college student has one in their dorm room.
Frankly, we don’t use it the same way anymore. A few years ago, I added a bluetooth adapter that connects my iPhone to our stereo system, making it pretty much the only music source in our house.
Since I’m the one who input all the thousands of songs it contains, it’s rare that I react with an “oh, wow!” when a long-unheard tune pops up. But there have been several times when something I might have skipped over because I’d heard it so often suddenly appeals to me anew.
There’s one other benefit: zero chance I’ll have to sit through “Jeremy,” “The Stroke,” or “Summer of ’69.”