Sunday, January 10, 2016

On the Radio


What will we tell future generations about “the radio”? My grandchildren will have a hard time understanding the extent to which radio stations influenced my childhood and teenage years. We scooped the radio waves out of the air with nothing more than a transistor receiver that ran on a nine-volt battery; or with the large cabinet radio in the living room. We could also listen to radio stations in our cars and we dreamed about the places from which the music came. As a boy I remember using a very fine touch to tune in 1400 CFUN all the way from Vancouver, BC. There were only certain hours, after dark, that this would work and to a kid on a small farm in Central Alberta, Vancouver was one of the most exotic places I could imagine. The radio station played a lot of the band Chilliwack, which suited me fine, and the DJs sounded more sophisticated than those in Red Deer or Calgary. All of the radio stations in a particular area played approximately 40 songs throughout the day. The 40 songs would change from month to month but some stuck around for a while. We learned the lyrics to all 40 so we could sing along any time that they came on. It usually took me about two listens to memorize a song and I still have many of those lyrics locked away in my cranium where they sometimes get in the way of more important pieces of information.

It is hard to comprehend, and harder still to explain, what a profound influence these songs had upon the children of the sixties, seventies, and eighties. We would sing a single line and everyone in the room could fill in the next words of the song. The attitudes and consciousness expressed in the radio hits were absorbed into our psyches and we were changed without even knowing we were being influenced. My first memories of life, when my infant consciousness was awakening, are forever connected to songs that I heard played on the radio. My uncle’s car radio playing “Ring of Fire,” by Johnny Cash, is etched eternally on my mind and I can still see Uncle Ray standing there with the hood up, tinkering with the carburetor. I have been forever influenced by the Radio.

Steep Canyon Rangers, a bluegrass band from Asheville, North Carolina has recorded, “Radio,”  a song that captures the way in which the radio has influenced generations of singers, musicians, and writers. Written by banjoist, Graham Sharp, the song is the first single and the inspiration for the album title produced by Jerry Douglas of Union Station.

Radio

I really dug your double-tape deck
Pressing dead flowers
For hours with you
Up in your bedroom
Beneath that Waterloo sunset so fine

Riding home from Sunday School
Casey Kasem told me
I'd find her one day
I believed, I believed
In every word he said

Cause I was born to the rhythm
Rocked in the bosom
Raised on the sound of the Radio
And when I want to get back
I turn it up loud and I'm ready to go

We never had to look around, look around
The sound was everywhere
And you'd call me on the phone
Saying look what I found

The skeleton key made just for you
Songs were the dark sunglasses
And the telescopes we were looking through
And the open door that we stumbled through
And we crawled, and we ran
And we just, we just flew

Cause I was born to the rhythm
Rocked in the bosom
Raised on the sound of the Radio
And when I want to get back
I turn it up loud and I'm ready to go

On the radio (on the radio)
On the radio (on the radio)
On the radio (on the radio)
On the radio (I'm on the radio)

Cause I was born to the rhythm
Rocked in the bosom
Raised on the sound of the Radio
And when I want to get back
I get back 
Cause I was born to the rhythm
Rocked in the bosom
Raised on the sound of the Radio
And when I want to get back
I turn it up loud and I'm ready to go
On the radio
On the radio

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