Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Radio Gaga

Hey! Buzz, why don't you just stop listening to the radio instead of complaining about it? Try internet radio, use your iPod, give it up, get a life.

I know, I know. And I try - I do - but it's hard.

It's hard because radio used to be so darn good, so fresh, so exciting, so inspiring. I know I can't have it, but I want it back.

I also know two other things:
1) I'm not alone
2) The decline has been long and sad

Queen, The Kinks, and Tom Petty have all produced classics lamenting the neutering and lobotomizing of radio during its relentless slide into a commercialized corporate commodity. They also shouted, "It used to be so good! I want it back."

Internet radio is OK, and I do enjoy the power of choosing from my own iPod playlists, but ... make that four other things I know:
3) Culture is supposed to be a shared experience, not solitary
4) The decline of radio is a metaphor for bigger problems in our society

All too often, when I listen to the radio I realize that I am not being entertained. I am being managed, manipulated - ripped off. And it doesn't stop there. TV, shopping malls, cellphones, sporting events ... it's everywhere. Our souls have been stolen, and placed on spreadsheets and sales charts.

Something beautiful and priceless has been made cheap and ugly. Paradise has been covered over with asphalt. It makes me sad. It makes me angry.

Tom Petty says it best in The Last DJ:
   As we celebrate mediocrity all the boys upstairs want to see
   How much you'll pay for what you used to get for free

It used to be so good! I want it back.

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