There are no true oldies stations in my market anymore. The last one changed formats more than a decade ago. What’s left is the Hank format and a Classic Rock Formula which has been reshaped from hard-rock-all-the-time (white except for Jimi Hendrix) to a mix of hard rock (white….except for Jimi Hendrix), hard pop rock (all white), a little easy listening (ditto), plus, for the sake of diversity, “Superstition” and “Low Rider.”

It’s not exactly a true re-creation of how hit-oriented radio worked in the sixties and seventies, but it is an accurate reflection of these focus-grouped times.

Usually, I just listen to the gasbags on talk radio who at least keep me up with the news. (And represent the last, best hope Never Trumpers have of taking their nemesis down, even if they don’t know it and would never admit it if they did. Believe me, when you’re in the Byzantine spot Robert Mueller’s in, a place where so many corrupt riddles are wrapped inside so many diseased enigmas your own best hope of staying out of jail is the pubic’s inability to keep up, you couldn’t hope for better than to have Sean Hannity and Mark Levin representing the other side).

But, now and again, when the gasbags either overwhelm me or go to commercial once too often, I still pull up the Classic Hits station in my car.

I had missed a promo-promised Go-Go’s/Queen segue earlier in the day, but now I hit the button just as this one started…and, once it starts, I never change the station…

Strange thing, though. This time, all I could think about while the song was playing (and I was shouting every word–have I ever mentioned that I harmonize with Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham like a long lost sibling who shared a mother with one and a father with the other?…Or that I can’t be the first person to have considered the possibility that everyone can do this?)–was how, when the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign adopted “Don’t Stop” as the theme song and wanted Fleetwood Mac to re-unite and play it for some big occasion (the Convention? Election Night? the Inaugural?…the memory hazes, but, for my purposes here, it only matters that they said yes), Buckingham at first refused.

He gave in only when Stevie Nicks called him up and said If you take this away from me, I’ll never speak to you again.)

Whatever harm he may have done to her elsewhere (I wrote about some of it here), on that occasion Lindsey was right.

Never trust a politician.

He might have shown great taste picking your song, but there’s always a chance he’ll end up sustaining and encouraging a status quo (you know,might even be granted permission by his own voters to complete the Reagan Revolution, which they had professed to despise only a moment before, when Stevie and every other good liberal was proving how serious they were by saying things like “I’ll never speak to you again!”–remember?) that will lock up black people at rates old Jim Crow (whose natural born child he was) never dreamed of and make everybody who fought for him twist themselves into pretzels telling themselves how it was alright because he did it, never mind it would have been worse than slavery if the other side merely settled for talking about doing the same.

Don’t mind me. I get peculiar thoughts some times.

Because while all that was running through my head (without my thrush-like throat fluffing a note) I also started wondering if Oo-o-o-hh, don’t you look back might be a sentiment tantamount to civilizational suicide. Didn’t somebody say something once about those who don’t learn from the past being doomed to, etc., etc., etc.?

And wouldn’t not learning from the past you never look back to just about define Bill Clinton’s life and legacy? (Be sure you read Thomas Frank’s blind-squirrel-finds-a-nut article at the link, especially if you’ve forgotten, or never admitted, how much damage Clinton did to liberalism, damage that is likely to remain irreparable…..And, like I said, don’t mind me.)

Boy was I depressed.

Not even remembering how the ghost version of “Don’t Stop” had long since forced me to ponder whether Christine McVie having just possibly conceived the song as pure irony should be one of my heart-of-the-universe questions–how, with the slightest shift of timbre, she transformed don’t look back from the proverbial fear that something might be gaining on you to an anthem worthy of an American presidential campaign, where never a discouraging word must be heard–allowed me to shake the feeling the whole world has been had all over again every time this song plays on the radio and one of us sings along in perfect harmony without missing a note or a nuance.

Then the radio went straight into this…

…which was so much about nothing (a Curfew Riot–which sounds like the title of a Monty Python skit) it ended up being about everything. Including now.

Paranoia strikes deep….

And even though it had been too long since I heard it (and though nothing could ever match the impact of singing it, in perfect harmony–with five kids who weren’t conversant with English, or even born, when it was released–under the eaves of the library at Kent State in 1998) for me to get every note, or even every word, right, I thought…well this radio still speaks in mysterious ways some times, its wonders to perform.

After that, Tom Petty reminding me I don’t have the live like a refugee, usually the highlight of any paranoiac’s day, felt as comfortable as an old shoe.

Then “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” came on and I remembered how talk radio came to be an option in the first place.

Because the Empire planned it that way….That’s how.

Now go back to bed and leave me alone you damned ol’ Politics.

PSYCHOLOGY OF A (COMPLICATED) SONG (Segue of the Day (2): 7/4/17)

Martina McBride released “Independence Day” in 1994. By her standards it was a relatively modest hit. Her previous two singles had gone top ten Country. “Independence Day” stalled at #12. In the years since she has racked up an additional fifteen country top tens, including five #1’s.

There is no question “Independence Day” is her signature song.

I’ve posted the original video before but it’s worth repeating, as one of the strongest videos ever produced and, by my reckoning, the last really great country gothic murder ballad–no less a ballad for being a rocker and no less murder (or gothic) for being justified.

Since then, the song has gone through many permutations, some not so subtle (it was, for a long time and over songwriter Gretchen Peters’ strenuous objections, the theme song of Sean Hannity’s radio show), some subtle indeed (see below) where, weeks after Sept, 11, 2001, the song is turned into a foot-stomping melodrama, from which thousands of waving flags cannot quite remove the sting–or the irony–probably because McBride doesn’t know how to cheat (or at very least doesn’t know how to cheat this song):

…And ,all these years later still, via the miracle of YouTube, you can watch her let the audience snatch it all the way back to something primal enough that the narrator in the original might recognize it again.

Posted as the homemade fireworks boom over my little town’s streets. Happy rest of the year America!

TALK ABOUT YOUR REVOLUTION (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #62)

“Independence Day”
Martina McBride (1994)

Blogging is a funny exercise. I wouldn’t say I ever get “Blogger’s Block” in the sense that I run out of things to write about. That never happens.

What does happen is I find myself with several long posts in process (or at least in gestation) and simply don’t have the time and/or energy to do any of them justice. And, at what seems to very often be one and the same time, I find myself with a shortage of topics that can be handled in the time life happens to be allowing.

Invariably, I have a day where five or six things occur at once and, over the ensuing week or so, I manage to write about half of them anyway before they lose whatever hold they had on me that I hope to pass along.

Today was that sort of day. I’ll be posting a few things over the next week that came out of today. In fact, I spent the whole day assuming one of those things that kept coming up would claim the top spot once I was off of work.

Didn’t happen.

What happened instead was I got in the mood to pull up some country songs on YouTube.

Usually that just means a lot of Patty Loveless and a little of whoever else comes to mind, but this time it was different.

I pulled up Montgomery Gentry’s “Roll With Me,” a fine hit from the very tail end of what will likely turn out to be country’s last point of connection to anything like roots.

Then, for some reason, Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” popped into my head.

I’ve never played “Independence Day” on YouTube. I don’t even play it much on CD as I’ve never found it very easy to listen to, but one thing a quick YouTube search confirmed was my sneaking suspicion that lots of other people find it very easy to listen to. Though it wasn’t a huge hit when it was released in the early nineties (#12 on the Country chart, no Pop action), it’s become something of a signature song for McBride, thanks in part to Sean Hannity yanking it out by the roots and using it as a theme song for years on his radio show (apparently he still does, the song’s writer, Gretchen Peters, has tried to have it pulled for years, and donates all the royalties she receives from his airplay to charity), in relation to what he assumed would be a triumphal outcome to our adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also won plenty of awards and shows up on various “Greatest Country Song” lists.

However it became such a calling card, McBride has had little choice but to belt it out in dozens of dubious contexts. A Pat Benetar duet; with the Boston Pops on the 4th of July; in every venue where a mainstream country singer with half a dozen platinum albums is expected to perform.

I wouldn’t say she ever does it less than justice either, at least vocally. That is, she never does it less than justice except that there isn’t any context outside of the original recording that really can do it justice.

Or so I thought until I pulled the official video, which I had somehow missed back in the day and never thought to pull up until today.

After which all those other great ideas I had throughout the day vanished.

I just read on Wikipedia that this was later voted the second greatest country music video.

I don’t even want to know what they thought was greater but I bet whoever voted for the other one never watched a man beat up his wife in the cab of a pickup while all the solid citizens shook their heads and turned back to watch the Pony League game. I was fourteen and my parents weren’t there. I still think I should have done something.