Monday, February 23, 2015

Songs from the radio.

Something I have been thinking about for the past few days is how I am old enough to remember when we recorded songs off the radio. Heck, I am old enough to remember when we recorded songs off the radio on reel-to-reel. After Lady Red's great post and our new venture into being a music blog, I thought I would go ahead.

An odd thing about some of those songs we recorded is that sometimes something would happen during the tape such as a burst of static. I would listen to the tape so much that for years that burst of static was part of the song; I would hear it even if it were not there. For example, my brother recorded “All in the Game” by Tommy Edwards off of AFN in 1964.

On my brother’s tape, there was a burst of static just as the chorus sang “Soon he’ll be there at your side.”  I listened to that tape so many times that fifty years later  I still hear the static.

Some of those songs may have been recorded in passing; minor hits never to modulate a plate again.  An announcer on AFN used a song to close his show once. My brother recorded it, and I had no idea what it was. Years later I dubbed the song down onto cassette figuring I would never l discover the title or the artist. In the mid ‘90’s I was at the old Tower Records in Seattle. I saw a CD of the Ventures greatest hits. I am not a big Ventures fan, but they only wanted three dollars for it so I bought it. When I got home I was going through the CD, and guess what I found, the mystery song:

Sometimes my brother would record a song then record over it, leaving only a short snippet. One case was a song where my brother left two bars from the beginning of the song. It was distinctive, but not enough for me to know whether I liked the song or not. In the early ‘90’s I bought a various artists CD of oldies. I know some of the songs, but not all of them. As I played the CD, this song came on:

There was no mistaking that beginning. Another mystery solved.

About four years later my brother did it again. This time he left two lines and some “ba ba bas”from the middle of the song. In the ‘80’s I bought one of the albums from Rhino’s Nuggets series.. This song came on:


Back when I was in radio, we would record what were called airchecks. Generally, these were done on cassette recorders that would come on when the microphone was turned on. Because of this, I may have a tape of myself introducing a song but not have the song. As some of the songs were somewhat obscure I probably would never hear the song again.

Enter You Tube:


Another song I have on an aircheck that is not played anymore (with a little extra to set up the joke):

Where would we be without You Tube?

Maybe it’s the Joe Friday in me, but I love finding something I thought I would never find.


  1. Gosh, I recorded lots of cassette tapes from the radio (back in the day). It was fun and challenging! I was glad when 8-tracks gave way to cassettes; cassettes were easier to store in the car and everyone had a cassette recorder to memorialize their favorite songs or events. I had a radio/cassette player shaped like a space helmet, and it was the coolest thing ever. I still have some old cassettes stored; I have no idea what's on them. Probably ancient jam sessions or something.

    Finding those old songs must be fun Matt! You had/have a great radio voice!

  2. Matt, you definitely have a voice for radio. Which is a very cool thing; and in any case much better than having a face for radio... ;)

    Artful Dodger - Silver and Gold - I don't remember the song specifically but immediately I had a memory of driving around doing errands with my father on the weekend - it's almost summer and the windows are open and there is that smell of 70's auto upholstery that has been sitting out in the sun...

    The Ventures - sounds like a mashup of proto-grung and proto-rockabily - the guitar lead is kinda hokey (well, that's just me talking) but the power cords - omg - Courtney Love's band should do this...

    Tommy Edwards - I've obviously watched too much David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, etc, because I'm listening and after thirty seconds or so I'm thinking someone is about to be murdered... soundtracks to kill by...

    Strawberry Alarm Clock. Yeah. Um... Groovy! Yeah... This is the kind of thing that would come on Bandstand or some other show and my parents would just do the omg wtf thing... before omg wtf was a thing, even...

    Bill Champlin - Another mashup, this time Earth Wind and Fire does Muzak Mall Music... (again, that's just me).

  3. Lewy, I think you hit the nail on the head about the Ventures -- that is why I was never a big fan. The could entertain, though, and that is what it is all about. I saw them live (a friend had tickets) at the Experience Music Project in the early 2000's. I do like this one, though.

    Artful Dodger had a funny (sad?) history. From what I read they were a hard rock group. That song was written by one of the group members and was the only song he wrote for the group. It was sung by the guy who wrote it and was the only song he sung for the group. So of course, a song different than anything else they did, written and sung by someone who normally did not write or sing for the group was the one chosen by a Columbia mucekety-muck to be the single for the album. That pissed off the people who knew the group and the rest of the album pissed off the people who liked that song.

    Tommy Edwards had recorded that song earlier in the '50's in a different (less rock & roll style [?!]) but I have not been able to find it yet -- not that I have looked too hard. The melody was written by the Vice President under Calvin Coolidge.

    The Strawberry Alarm Clock song was one of those "Let's have our first record be a number one smash and follow it up with something no-one would remember in a year" songs.

    Bill Champlin had a band out of San Francisco called Sons of Champlin. I never heard anything by them -- I had just heard of the group. They probably opened a lot of concerts in the Bay Area and I just heard their name in commercial.

    Yeah, there is probably good reason most of these songs are obscure.

  4. We're a music blog, woohoo!!!

    I have lots of songs I'd like to post, plus I will look up Aridog's links to the flamenco-type music and post those as well.

  5. I bet you LOVED finding the mystery song, Matt. I don't remember recording much, the first thing I recorded off the radio was "Travelling Riverside Blues" by Zep. At the time, it hadn't been released and the radio would play it occasionally. Of course, I probably missed the first few seconds, I just can't remember. But I was SO happy to have a copy that I could play over and over again, and learn the words to it (kind of blue, that one ;-).

    I hear you about the "little snippets". At the end of "When the Levee Breaks", they finished the song off with an extended denouement (if that's the right word) followed by a quick 5 note riff. I managed to work that onto the end of my phone message back in the 80's. I was proud of that bit!

    I didn't know a single one of your songs, Matt, but enjoyed hearing your intros. Like lady red & lewy mentioned, you have a really great radio voice, you remind me of Casey Kasem.

  6. OT to Lewy, Matt, lady red, Fay, Dances & Aridog...

    Tom & I were talking about this net neutrality kerfuffle and we've both read conflicting things about it. There are also aspects of it that I don't understand. Could one of you folks who are up on this topic post something about it so that it's a bit easier to understand what's going on? I'm afraid once the government gets control of it, we will incur more tax penalties - like all the utilities charge - and then they will proceed to eff it up like they do everything else. I'd appreciate hearing what you all think if someone could post about it in the next few weeks...

    Sorry to go off-topic on your wonderful thread Matt but I wasn't sure where to ask this.

    1. I can't say I know much about it other than to say if Obama is for it it must be a bad idea.

    2. There is a technology aspect to net neutrality, which is the idea that all packets should be treated the same way by the network providers.

      This is how the internet was made to work (if you ask the engineers that made it).

      Network providers charge those who connect to the network - both big (Google, Netflix, etc) and small (you and me).

      While they charge different prices for different bandwidth levels, in general wired connection fees have not had an absolute cap on data downloads or uploads (wireless cellular data is different - your "data plan" most likely has a cap.)

      Caps on wired internet connections (cable, dsl, fiber) do exist in practice; they're just kinda fuzzy - if you download at max rate 24x7 you will likely be shut off at some point.

      Since the rise of streaming media (Netflix, YouTube), internet service providers (ISPs) have wanted to charge customers a different price for different kinds of bits - streaming from the big guys (like Netflix) will be part of the "bundle", streaming from a little guy (like MattM's conservative podcast channel) will be extra - maybe a lot extra. Or else unbearably slow.

      Also, the "big guys" will have to pay to play.

      Aside from the free market implications, which reasonable people might differ on - level playing field vs my wires, my prices - there is a public choice aspect to this, which is that government, internet and media companies will converge on what is acceptable for the American public to view (in any volume) and what is not, in such a way that no threats to either the established parties or the established companies ever emerge from the 'net. Ever.

      My personal biases should at this point be evident. I believe net neutrality in a pure, technical sense is a "good thing".

      That said, I think in practice I might agree with Matt on the implementation: it's likely that the FCC common-carrier status is not going to be rolled out in a way that gives government less power over the internet and the kinds of content available, but rather more. Since I'm not a lawyer or a telecom regs expert, I can't speak with any knowledge.

      I can tell you how much trust I have, however, which is none.

    3. Thanks, lewy. That explains allot, I'm sure Tom will want to read your thoughts on this as well so I'll pass it on.

    4. flo - on net neutrality - check out this post from the EFF.

      Pretty clear that the FCC is doing this in a way that allows them to pretty much do what they like on an ad hoc basis, with the force of law, and such that only huge companies can play the game.

      What could possibly go wrong?

  7. I found it:

    1. So I "free associated" and clicked through a couple links on YouTube and found this awesome tune:

      I think this might be the big iron skillet flo was hitting me with the other day ;)

    2. OK that's it. Wanda Jackson is awesome. This must have been scandalously hawt back in the day.

      Proto grrl power hard rock. Hey Joan Jett / Bangles / Courtney Love - Wanda was there first.

    3. lewy, lol!!!! Love the big hair!

      I was going to give you boys a hard time for not using the hyperlink until I clicked on mine and saw it went nowhere (so I deleted it).

    4. My hyperlinks were given Ritalin.

  8. Something is fubar. I don't know why the blog is posting my comments twice. I'll go delete the 2nd one, *sigh*.

    1. flo, all good on my end. I neglected to make a hyperlink just out of laziness - the link hypertext works OK for me.

    2. Yes, I put in the wrong address - usually I check it before I post. It was just the second time my comment posted twice for some reason, Weird!