"I guess I have a lot of problems, so many that I don't have time to go into them all in detail. Suffice it to say I'm anal, obsessive, vain, quick to temper, overly introspective, lazy, judgmental, insecure, and self-righteous. Probably the most annoying thing about me is that I'm hugely opinionated. But I kind of make up for that by always being right."

Monday, November 07, 2005

When Radio Was Crap

Thirty years ago I was wandering the streets of my hometown, Portland, Oregon, when I heard a deafening racket coming from the floor above my favorite record store, Longhair Music. I found the entrance to the building, climbed the stairs, and walked into a music scene unlike any I had ever heard or seen before. The band on stage called themselves The Neo Boys - three or four (I can't remember which) girls who seemed to have little, if any, talent. They thrashed at their guitars as though the instruments somehow pissed them off, playing songs that only lasted about a minute-and-a-half. And it's no wonder. They shot through the poor things at a tempo I'm pretty sure music was never meant to be played at. In fact, I wasn't even sure it was music. I was sure of one thing, though. I loved it.

The next band was called The Wipers, and they were even better. The lead singer, Greg Sage, had a defiant intelligence that drew me in, and a cocky bitterness that spit me right back out again. It was exhilarating. I found out later that the music was called "punk," and I wondered why my radio was squeezing out such crap when great stuff like this was out there for the listening.

About a year or so later a band called the Ramones came to town, and my life would never be the same again. Mostly because I met a girl there who gave me the crabs, but that's a whole 'nother story.

I thought about all of this recently when I pulled out my old Ramones albums. By the way, you can't call yourself a fan of any musical artist if all you have is their greatest hits CD. Anyway, I listened to the albums in chronological order, and was struck by how much I liked one of their later releases, "Mondo Bizarro." I liked it when it came out, of course, but somehow it seems to have improved with age. In the last month I must have listened to it at least 50 times, until it's worn that comfortable groove in my mind that's made it part of my soundtrack. Years from now when I listen to it, I'm sure I'll remember today, when my kids were still young, my heart still broken, and the stuff on the radio still crap.