Where would popular music be without the Radio? “Radio Nowhere” that’s where. Okay, anytime I can work a Bruce Springsteen song into a sentence it’s a good day! Radio has always been a critical part of the world’s infrastructure and was the foundation of international communication. During emergencies, wartime or bad weather Radio has been there for us all. With a worldwide pandemic Radio has once again proven a vital link to keep us informed and entertained. Be it talk radio, news radio or any other type of programming, local radio in particular has never been more important than it is now. We rely on it to know what’s going on in our neighbourhoods, which stores are open, will it be sunny or cloudy or just to hear a friendly and familiar voice. I grew up listening to talk, sports (Go Knights!) and music radio quite a bit, I still do and it most definitely influenced my love of music a great deal.
“The Spirit of Radio” (above picture), music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson and as were almost all their Lyrics, written by the late Neil Peart. Rush released this song as a promo late in 1979 and on a single in 1980 and then the album Permanent Waves. Inspired by the Brampton Ontario radio station CFNY-FM’s slogan, “The Spirit of Radio” is now a rock classic listed on Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘The 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll’ and inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame along with four other Rush songs.
“Radio Free Europe” (1981) by R.E.M. is on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. I actually don’t know if anyone understands what the song is really about but it’s a great song! An awful live cover from the otherwise decent band ‘The Replacements‘ (1984)
“On Your Radio” written and performed by Joe Jackson, it was released in 1979 on the Album ‘I’m Your Man’. It seems to be the second ‘radio’ song also coming from the UK. I mentioned Jackson in my last post and referenced his past experience with being bullied. This song is a pretty direct message to those past bullies, “Tough kids don’t stop trying, To kick me to the ground”. His message is “Don’t you know you can’t get near me. You can only hope to hear me on your radio”. A brilliant song that many, myself included can relate too.
“Video Killed the Radio Star” as recorded by The Buggles is chronologically by release date, the next ‘radio’ song after Joe Jacksons “On Your Radio” and once again from the UK. Written by Trevor Horn and Bruce Woolley with a ‘shared’ credit going to Geoff Downes. It’s a song with a very interesting history. The Buggles did not really exist before this song, so without Bruce Woolley, Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes started working together as a duo. They created a band whose name was a parody of the Beatles, an image that was influenced by Elvis Costello/Elton John and an original music video that would set off an explosion in the industry. It was the first music video shown on MTV. While it only reached #40 on the US charts it was a huge international hit reaching #1 in 16 countries and selling over a million copies in France alone. Recorded concurrently but with a later release was a version by the other songwriter, Bruce Woolley, who had gotten a solo record deal and made the song as “Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club“. While the Wooley version was great (and preferred by myself and others) it kinda got lost due to the success of the Buggles version. Don’t feel bad for Bruce, he still gets royalty cheques I’m sure. Despite the grim outlook of the songs storyline (and the one hit wonder Buggles), Radio still lives on, of course maybe there will be a new song, Streaming Killed the Video Star…
Perhaps you have your own favorite ‘radio’ song, for me near the top is “Radar Love” by Golden Earring from 1973. “…And the radio played that forgotten song
Brenda Lee’s comin’ on strong” this is also the ultimate ‘driving song’ which got me through many a late night road trip.
“Turn Me on I’m a Radio“, Joni Mitchell
“Guerilla Radio” Rage Against The Machine
“Listen To The Radio” Don Williams
“Radio” Darius Rucker
Speaking of being on the radio I am scheduled to be on Mike Stubbs program London Live on AM980 at 2:40 p.m. E.S.T. today, Thursday April 9 to talk about this blog.
edit: major oversight on my list “Yesterday Once More” by the ‘Carpenters’.
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