I am pretty much a fiend for music. I no longer listen to it when I write fiction, but that’s because I’m so sucked in by lyrics (good or bad) that I can’t delve into the world on the other side of my keyboard if there are tunes playing. My brain just can’t let go. This led, long ago, to my sister nicknaming me “bitch at the switch,” because I am such a control freak about what’s playing on the radio/stereo in cars.
I just cannot abide sucky music, and there’s a lot of it out there. Especially on the radio.
I’ve gotten pretty spoiled, what with being able to transmit tunes off my iPhone onto my car radio over the last couple of years with the aid of this little black plastic lollypop thing I bought at Walgreen’s for twenty-five bucks, since I don’t have an MP3 hookup-linky-thingie to plug into direct.
But that splendid little objet wasn’t my first foray into bitch-at-the-switchness…let’s just say I’ve been an early adopter of musical-control-freak technology since all we control freaks had was the AM dial (mix tapes, mix CDs, and now *sigh of bliss* iTunes. Even Sirius radio is not enough for me, sorry.)
I blame two things for this:
- Driving cross-country in a 1967 Ford Country Squire wagon with my mom at the wheel the summer that STUPID “Sundown” song was playing over and over again on every AM station from Salinas through Newark.
- Having my maternal grandparents play nothing but the former muzak station out of New York known as WPAT–“beautiful music for beautiful people”–nonstop in their Lincoln every time I spent any vacation time with them.
- Andrew Lloyd Weber. More on him later.
Oh, wait. That’s three things.
This all comes to mind because I drove to NYC a while back and my Walgreen’s lollipop thing doesn’t work when FM stations 88.1 through 88.7 are actually transmitting, so driving through Worcester, Hartford, New Haven, and the environs of Greater New York forces me to listen to the few CDs I have left or to actual radio stations.
Yes, I suppose I could listen to nothing at all, but that is just not an option for me. Especially on a five-hour road trip I’ve done several dozen times. I think I might end up bashing my head through the steering wheel in sheer desperation. I need a soundtrack.
But if I HAVE to listen to radio-that-is-not-programmed-by-me, there are certain songs I will avoid like the proverbial plague. These have been, to my mind, SO overplayed for the last several decades that I’m amazed more people don’t light their radios on fire. Seriously.
Here are my bottom ten–the songs that you’d have to totally Clockwork Orange me with the eyeball clamps and everything before I’d deign to listen to them from start to finish:
1. “Sundown,” Gordon Lightfoot.
Dude, I would creep around your back stairs just to duct-tape your mouth shut, so I never had to hear this stupid damn song ever again. And I think I know why your girlfriend is messing around on you. She would like you to stop singing. Forever. This reached #1 on the Billboard charts. And was simultaneously #1 in Canada. And tortured me for 3000 miles in the back seat of an unconditioned station wagon in the summer of 1974.
2. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” also Gordon Lightfoot.
Have I mentioned duct tape? I’m very sorry that this ship sank and everything, but I would like to put all recordings of this fucking song in a leaky dinghy, then push it out to sea and shoot at the damn thing until it sinks. Blech. Blech, blech, blech.
3. “Riders on the Storm,” The Doors.
I think when your grocery store starts playing a song to let you know they’re about to turn on the lettuce misters in the produce department, it should officially be banned from airplay on actual radio stations. Especially when it’s raining.
4. Like a Virgin/Material Girl/Papa Don’t Preach. Ma-fucking-Donna.
I hate these songs. Hate. Like, to the point where I wish I could claw out my own ears level of not-enjoyment. I have felt that way since I first heard each of them on the radio, and don’t even get me started on having to watch the videos of them on MTV, back in the day. They make my skin crawl. They make my eyes itch. They make me break out in bad, bad Tourette’s episodes.
5. “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy I’ve Got Love in my Tummy,” Ohio Express
What, have these guys been hanging out in the back room of a bear bar? Ewwww. Twee, twee, twee, ptui. Double ptui. Triple.
6. “Just a Smalltown Girl/Don’t Stop Believin'” Journey
Okay, I must confess that there is a great deal of Journey that I actually LIKE. Which is probably because I listened to their album Evolution over and over again in this very cute surfer boy’s car in California the first time I ever did mushrooms. But these two songs are anathema to me, and they’re the ones that get played over and over and over again. I mean, seriously, you want a Journey song for the closing number on the final episode of the Sopranos, and you pick one of these? Gag me with the Garden State Parkway.
7. “The Gambler,” Kenny Rogers
You got to know when to fold up, and when to stop playing a really annoying song on the radio. I wish this train would just keep going, gambler and all, until I never have to hear about it again. In fact, the next time this comes on the radio, I would like to walk away. I would like to run.
8. “Ramblin’ Man,” The Allman Brothers
If you must play Allmans on the radio, please limit yourself to “Whipping Post,” “One Way Out,” or “Statesboro Blues.” These are brilliant songs. This one is just, basically, the anthem of those who refuse to pay child support. And lame.
9. Most country music apres Tammy Wynette, except for The Dixie Chicks and maybe some Roseanne Cash.
Really, I love me some good twangy pedal steel and a good shit-kickin’ beat, but “Achy Breaky Big Mistake-y” is enough to make me take a cricket bat to the speakers in my car doors. It’s like being force-fed a cocktail of grenadine, maple syrup, and ipecac.
10. Andrew Lloyd Weber. All of him.
I was tortured with Evita in my teens–long story–suffice it to say I saw the damn thing three times on Broadway against my will (matinee, Lupone-less, each time.) And then there was the endless night of Phantom when I first moved to Colorado… not to mention Cats.
If I am bad in this existence, my afterlife will consist of an eternity on a desert island with Andrew Lloyd and an accordion. Please GOD don’t make me listen to him in the meantime. Please. Please please please.
Okay, so if these ten things were permanently expurgated from the playlists of the world, I would be a happy woman. What ten songs would you Ratis like done away with? SPILL…