Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brain Damage Part 2

Thinking a little further about yesterday's post (and thank you Mr. Crabb for commenting on it). . . .

Alright, so I'm bitching about corporate radio stations and the litany of same old same old. Fair enough.

But why DO the corporate stations structure things in the way that they do? Or, to penetrate one of the sheerest veils, what is it about the same old same old that makes these companies money?

Melanie is something of a foodie, and she is fond of using the term "comfort food." The meaning is a little nebulous (or maybe it's just that my understanding of the term is nebulous), but examples are things like macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes.

These are high-carbohydrate foods, yes, but more to the point, they are also things your mom might have made you when you were a kid. Most of us like the carbs, but what's most important to these foods and to this concept is that they remind us as adults of the simpler times we had when were children.

So what I'm guessing is that the Classic Rock format functions as comfort music. Now, the magic period being evoked moves up a few years, from childhood to adolescence, but if you're in that 30 - 50 demographic that these stations seem to target, and your contracting business is in the shitter and you've got three more years of child support to pay, and they just raised the rent on your duplex another 75 bucks, I can definitely understand if you'd rather listen to something that reminds you of yourself when you were a bit more piss and vinegar.

It's why music like Dust or Sir Lord Baltimore or Nick Drake or Matching Mole or Can or anything else semi-obscure like that, though all of it is properly of and belongs to the quote-unquote classic rock era, won't get played on Classic Rock radio.

They didn't play this stuff back then, so there's a void where the memory-trigger is supposed to be now. The Clear Channel programmers understand that nobody is going to be comforted by an obscure 7-minute track from some band they've never heard of. People for the most part want what's easy, and if you don't make their music easy, you've given them no reason to return to your small slice of the radio spectrum over and over again. And return visits are what radio advertising is all about.

It's all well and good if people like me and Mr. R Smith and Tad and all the other likeminded music geeks on the freaking internet wanna go out (actually, in my case that should read 'wanna force themselves to go out') and challenge themselves with something new or something buzzsaw or something progressive or something obscure.

But I'm guessing most people (and most people who listen to Classic Rock stations) don't need any additional challenges. They've got enough already, courtesy of their government or their boss or their ex-spouse.


TAD said...

R: Some good points here. True, when I listen 2 oldies radio now I do tend 2 think more of what I was doing when the song was popular than I do about the song itself, but I'm that kinda guy. & my new fave oldies station unfortunately does play the same off-the-wall oldies over & over. They play something surprising maybe 1nce a day, near as I can tell. Resta the time it's "Rose Garden" & "Billy Don't Be a Hero" & "The Night Chicago Died" & Ooga-chakka "Hooked on a Feeling".... I could, of course, do it better, & I'm available CHEAP....
I don't get "Classic Rock" stations either. It all cuts off around 1982 or so. The same 5 Rush songs over&over, nothing later than "New World Man" & "Subdivisions".... But I gotta tell ya, I had "Stairway to Heaven" on at work a few nites back & it still sounded pretty great, or at least Page's guitar-meltdown ending did....
I also enjoy Crabby's rantings, I just worry about his blood pressure....

MAM said...

Just wandered across your blog. Good stuff.
I think the point made in the last last paragraph of your Classic Rock ratio post, about competing challenges, hits the truth nerve.

As an almost 50 year-old, it's challenging enough to introduce my kids to the 60s/70s/80s music that I grew up on, know by heart and mostly still love.

Re your older post about "Mystery Train", Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers have a pretty good take on CD3 of "Intersections 1985-2005".