Up and down the dial.

One of the presets on my car radio abruptly changed format a few weeks ago. To country. Because it’s too depressing to see what’s become of commercial radio in search of another, I left it there and commenced one of my every-few-years anthropological examinations of the strange world of country music.

It lasted about two days, and alas, wasn’t very surprising. Like so much pop music, it sounds like it’s written by a robot and recorded by an ad agency, the better to shorten the trip between the radio and the beer and/or truck commercials they all seem to be written for.

I do find country music refreshing, for about 15 minutes. I’ve always enjoyed it as a form of pop music that deals with adult problems and concerns, from the Pill to D-I-V-O-R-C-E. But of course, those songs are 40 years old now. The stuff I heard this week was mostly, as I said, good-time ditties about drinkin’ beer and drivin’ trucks, and sometimes self-reflective self-pity about farmin’ and America. Nashville lyricists do have a way with words, though — rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey, a little bit of whiskey makes my baby frisky, etc. But otherwise, it was a little like visiting Real America. I may be a citizen, but I don’t feel at home there.

A colleague of mine used to do this comedy routine at lunch sometimes: Stevie Wonder struggles to write “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” the treacle that announced to the world that “Innervisions” and “Songs in the Key of Life” were well in the past. He’d do Stevie at the piano, tearing his hair out: “I just called to say…what? Let’s have lunch? What’s happening? I know! I love you!”

That’s country music these days, alas. Obvious, dumb, beer, trucks.

Or maybe I’m just not tuned into the right station.

Bloggage today? Here’s a compare-and-contrast to show you what a good writer and a bad one can do with the same subject matter — Mitch Albom and Ta-Nehisi Coates. It’s embarrassing.

I’d have more, but in my scans tonight, I can’t find a headline that doesn’t start with “5 Ways,” “8 Ways” or “How  X Happened, And Why You Should Care.” God, sometimes I hate the internet.

Posted at 12:30 am in Popculch |

70 responses to “Up and down the dial.”

  1. Dexter said on March 6, 2014 at 2:27 am

    I used to hate that shit too. I guess it was Don Imus’ shows that got me, late in life, to appreciate Country, finally.
    Keith Urban is great, I love to listen to Jamey Johnson. Brad Paisley’s corny tunes won me over, then I heard his serious side as well. Hayes Carll is hilarious. Dierks Bentley is one hell of a singer and writer. Texas star Lyle Lovett’s style led me to an appreciation of the great, great Townes Van Zandt. Indianapolis-born John Hiatt makes great music. Emmylou Harris is wonderful, and Roseann Cash’s new album is beautiful. She had brain surgery, lost her voice, and modern medicine allowed her to have her voice restored to greater heights than before.
    But I am basically a rock ‘n roller who loves Pop and Jazz, so don’t pay any attention to me on this topic.

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  2. David C. said on March 6, 2014 at 6:34 am

    I wonder. Had Mitch read Ta-Nehisi’s column first, would his have been any different? Somehow, I doubt it. A foolish consistency and all that. It’s good to see he came down so firmly against the word. That might persuade two uptight whiteys who don’t use it either to never use it.

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 6, 2014 at 6:58 am

    “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto” ~ Terence, c. 140 BC

    “I am human; nothing human is alien to me.” I’m betting Real Romans weren’t any more messed up than Real Americans, and their popular entertainment wasn’t all uplift and insight by a long shot. And Terence would have been a Ta-Nehisi of the Late Republic. Their Alboms are all lost to history, unless they were graffiti on a wall in Pompeii.

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  4. Joe K said on March 6, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Hayes Carll-kmagyoyo,right Dexter? Nancy you might try Americana music, xm-channel 60. Country with a little more edge.
    Pilot Joe

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  5. Neal Rubin said on March 6, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Dexter has very good taste, but most of those guys don’t get played on commercial radio. If you have SiriusXM, try Channel 56 (Willie’s Roadhouse) for old-time country twang, or 60 (Outlaw Country) for Hayes Carll, James McMurtry and those folks.

    Hayes Carll wrote one of my favorites, about a guy whose girlfriend gets religion, keeps telling him how he pales in comparison to Jesus, and urges him to find Jesus as well. The refrain is, “If I ever find Jesus, I’m kicking his ass.”

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  6. coozledad said on March 6, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I hate going to the feed store and hearing that stuff. I think I heard some fake country version of Wind Beneath My Wings and got a mental image of Alan Jackson kicking it at the bathhouse.

    Generic Country Song #374

    Daddy told me on his deathbed
    “Son you’ve got to be a man
    Don’t put your whizzer in a asshole
    but get fecund any way you can.

    Don’t ever pay for no bortions
    even if you have to move away
    start a new life and get humpin again
    makin’ soldiers for the USA.

    Don’t ever ride you no moped
    less they take your license away
    don’t put your pecker in a bunghole
    or you’ll have a son like you someday.

    Don’t ever pay for no bortions
    Even if you have to move away
    start a new life and hump till you drop
    makin’ whitey in the USA.”

    Spoken against fade
    Yeah, well fuck you too, deddy.

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  7. coozledad said on March 6, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Neal Rubin: Sparks does something similar to that song:

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  8. alex said on March 6, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Like so much pop music, it sounds like it’s written by a robot and recorded by an ad agency, the better to shorten the trip between the radio and the beer and/or truck commercials they all seem to be written for.

    Spot on and funny as hell. Made my morning.

    I remember reading about the music industry in the 1950s and ’60s, when talent scouts would roam the country, discover original local talent playing in honky-tonks and dives, and sign recording contracts with them. From there, record industry reps would make the rounds pushing singles to radio DJs just like the pharmaceutical salespeople who go around dumping samples of Prozac and Prilosec on physicians today. A song would get tried out on the air and either it sank or it swam based on the numbers logged on the station’s request line. It was a much more democratic system, and one that rewarded originality. Music was perpetually new and interesting.

    Flash forward to the ’80s, where an artist would have a smash hit, and then everything that followed sounded like essentially the same song with new lyrics because the record company thought it was a winning formula for sales. Consider just about any Lionel Ritchie ballad after he left the Spinners. Or Stevie Wonder’s late career, as noted above. Or a lot of Michael Jackson’ music, or anything Janet Jackson ever did while gliding along on his coattails.

    I have no idea who determines what gets produced today; perhaps some automaton with a tin ear and dollar signs in its eyes. A business school grad. A robot.

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  9. beb said on March 6, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Now I know that nancy and I once shared a common pre-set on our car radios. It was quick a shock going from semi-classic rock to modern country.

    Boingboing had a link to an article about modern country music where the author listed the common tropes to the year’s most popular songs. It was things like trucks, beer, driving down lonesome road and, I think, women. There was a kind of depressing generic tone to it all. I suspect that if a similar survey were done of current rock music they’d find a similar limited range of tropes.

    On the whole Country I find country only slightly less horrible than rap. This can get kind of confusion because my all-time favorite rock musician is Neil Young and thee is *A lot* of country in his music.

    I’d probably read a lot more of Ta-Nehisi Coates if i could just remember how to spell his name. His meditation on the use of the N-word by blacks is thoughtful and illuminating. Still, I wisih they wouldn’t use it because it’s too confusing remembering who can use it and when it can be used, and the too-great a tendency to start using it when it’s not permitted of whites. I haven’t read what Mitch Albom says on this subject, unlike the proprietress, I never read him.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on March 6, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Jefftmmo reminds me that I used to think all British TV was Masterpiece Theater caliber, until I went there and saw that 98% is dreck, just like here. The dreck, for the most part, doesn’t cross the pond.

    There’s almost nothing on the radio that fits my musical tastes. I’m very happy to carry a sleeve of CDs in my car, or in the new one, plug in my phone or mp3 player. Our rental in Florida had sirius for the first few days and that was lovely, but I’m too frugal to pay for it, thus the CDs.

    How many in the next generation listen to the radio at all? Not my kids, for sure; they both have even more esoteric tastes than me. They find their music online through artists’ individual marketing efforts and recommendations from friends. They send them $ on paypal or kickstarter campaigns and bypass the record companies entirely. So I’m wondering what size radio audience is left. Or in 20 years?

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  11. basset said on March 6, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Living in Nashville for the past going-on-29 years, I should be deeply into country music – but no, not what’s sold as country today. I could not name you a single Dierks Bentley song, or Hayes Carll, or Keith Urban, or Jamie Johnson; we have plenty of new-hot-hits country radio, and it just does not interest me.

    “Robot” and “formula” are exactly right. I used to play softball with several guys who were in that business, and they’d tell me how songs are written to order – you go to the market research, find that a song not over 2 1/2 minutes about love and loss from the woman’s point of view but not about cheatin’ would sell, find a writer or writers to crank it out, and away you go, ideally right straight toward that 30s and 40s women, lots of disposable income, potential customer demographic. It’s not about emotion any more, it’s about being at the pointy end of someone’s marketing plan.

    That said, I will second Neal about the Willie channel on Sirius – I like the old stuff, and what’s now labeled Americana provides some of what country used to. I don’t even listen to terrestrial radio any more except for NPR.

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  12. Jeff Borden said on March 6, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I’m with Pilot Joe on the Outlaw Country setting of XM/Sirius. There are artists and acts from all over the world and the channel isn’t shy about snarking on the mainstream acts. Jackson Taylor and the Sinners, for example, take dead aim at the Toby Keiths, Hank Williams Jr. and Trace Adkins with a song whose lyrics include the question, “What the fuck in a honky tonk badonka donk?” (It’s a Trace Adkins song title.) I’d never paid a lick of attention to c/w until about 10 years ago, when I was driving to Ohio from Chicago a lot. Six hours of flat, boring driving will send you searching for something interesting.

    There’s as big a difference between the pop country of mainstream Nashville and the real stuff as there is between Justin Bieber and Jack Black.

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  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Julie — “dreck doesn’t cross the pond” — well, we are cursed with “American Idol.”

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  14. Joe Kobiela said on March 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

    I understand that east Nashville is becoming a hot bed of new wave country.
    Todd Snider, Elizabeth Cook, Tim Carol, some good dive bars and the such.
    Xm 60 is good, but I think it did lose a bit from what it was before siris bought it.
    I really get tired of Mo-Jo Nixon 4-8 But love Elizabeth Cook in the morning 10-2
    Pilot Joe

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  15. Maggie Jochild said on March 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I read the Coates essay with delight and, for the first time in my life, clicked on a link that led me to Mitch Albom. I was dismayed at first glance: The very format of his “essay” was instantly revealing.

    A few years ago I wrote a short review of an online contest among lesbian bloggers, expounding on which blogs I’d recommend and which I thought were drek. The worst of the lot was a blog written by a 20-something who was determined to have learned no history and used her writing to complain about exes, mostly, in a generic sort of way. Every sentence had its own paragraph. She seemed to think blank lines added drama. I critiqued her as fairly as I could.

    To my astonishment, she read my post and felt compelled to defend herself — in, yes, one-sentence paragraphs. I saw the same laziness and one-note literacy immediately in Albom’s effort (to misuse the word) and did not read further than the first screen. Where have you gone, E.B. White?

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    • nancy said on March 6, 2014 at 10:04 am


      I’ve told this story before, but years ago I did a writing-skills seminar at the Free Press, and Mitch was one of the teachers. He mentioned, with pride, several of his most annoying tics: One-sentence paragraphs, the repeating line, etc. There’s no saving that guy.

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  16. Julie Robinson said on March 6, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Jtmmo, that why I said for the most part. I had to laugh at a recent interview of a British actor who said he loves to come to this country since we have all the best TV. Me, I’m holding out for a reboot of the Carol Burnett show.

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  17. Kirk said on March 6, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Modern country — the Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, Kelly Clarkson, etc. crap that infects the great majority of “country” radio — sucks. It’s third-rate pop rock with a fiddle thrown in here and there. There is good country music; it’s just harder to find. The satellite stations mentioned above are good places to find it.

    Dale Watson forever. Jason Isbell is someone else worth checking out.

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  18. fdchief218 said on March 6, 2014 at 10:27 am

    The thing is, I’m not a particular fan of “country” music, at least the kind of thing that comes out of the Nashville yick-a-hoo music factories today. But “country music”? The sort of thing that my Celtic ancestors brought with them to the impoverished hills of places like West Virginia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas that eventually became the blues, and Western swing, and finally the country-and-western that we know today? That stuff was truly heartrending.

    The “country” music you hear cranking out of pickup trucks and from the speakers in the faux-cowboy bars always seems to me to be fundamentally about pride and arrogance. The singers – and the listeners – may adhere to the old formulas about whiskey and broken hearts and faithless women. But down inside is a sort of inverted smugness. Yeah, the music seems to say, I’m an ignerent shitkicker…but because of my bone-deep Country Strength (and patriotism and the love of Jesus in my heart) I’m a better man (or woman) than you latte’-sipping sophisticates and I – and down deep in your heart, you, too – know that.

    The older country, the sort of stuff that used to some out of Nashville pre-MTV, was the “country” of the Scots-Irish refugees who came here seeking not a better life but any life at all, having been whipped out of their old lives like starving dogs. It’s a grievous music, full of the knowledge that while the meek may inherit the Earth after they die that while they LIVE in it they’ll probably get two things; jack, and shit. That the rich man and the strong man are going to grow richer and stronger and the poor man will not. That a lifetime of toil and heartbreak are your lot and mine, and we cannot change that, and we cannot escape it.

    Mind you, I couldn’t drive around listening to that for more than a couple of hours without sucking the shotgun.

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  19. coozledad said on March 6, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Someone from Odessa posted this piece along with their youtube video yesterday. I liked it instantly- sort of a klezmer thing. The funniest part is the title. It’s from the soundtrack to the film Goodbye Lenin. The orchestration is perfect.

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  20. Chris In Iowa said on March 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

    There are many great young bands out there writing and performing really good music that will never be played on commercial radio. Thank god they can apparently make a living by performing live and getting played on satellite radio, Pandora, Spotify, etc. I’m a Hayes Carll fan. But there are others, too, like Paul Thorn. In my little town in Iowa, I have recently seen live performances by two really good bands, The Farewell Drifters and Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys — a band whose members are mostly from Michigan, I think. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZd788TlOnI

    I’ve been thrilled to see bands like this because most of the “bro country” that gets played on commercial radio absolutely sucks.

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  21. Bitter Scribe said on March 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Who is supposed to be the good writer and who is the bad one? I’m sorry, normally I like Coates, but that essay of his was all over the map. He seemed to be arguing that black football players should be allowed to call each other niggers, but it was hard to pick out a coherent argument in that seething bundle of resentments.

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  22. Sue said on March 6, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Oh, fdchief218 said exactly what I’ve been thinking but don’t have enough knowledge to say. Country music goes way way back and has lots of branches on its tree, and the genealogy is fascinating. What’s out there on the stations is annoying beyond belief – “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” – but the audience is there for it, bless their sad manipulated little hearts.
    Here’s a blog I like: http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/

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  23. Sue said on March 6, 2014 at 10:53 am

    And re Brit shows: I’ll watch almost anything with British accents but won’t stick around past the first 15 minutes if I find I would avoid the same show with American accents. One of my favorite things is trying to figure out if the ‘Americans’ in the cast are actually Brits. Everyone thinks because of Hugh Laurie and the guy from Band of Brothers/Homeland that every English actor can do a flawless generic American accent but not so. Bates from Downton Abbey didn’t quite get it in an episode of Inspector George Gently, and there was a guy on Foyle’s War that sounded like the ‘Angels With Filthy Souls’ movie in Home Alone.
    They tend to flatten their “A”s a little too much; the worst go at them with a sledgehammer.

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  24. annie said on March 6, 2014 at 10:55 am

    hey fdchief218 come back here and post often. You’re a great writer.

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Bluegrass will save us all.

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  26. Kirk said on March 6, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Jeff, did you go see Rhonda Vincent at the Midland?

    fdchief218@18: very insightful, especially the evaluation of what nashville is pushing these days.

    Sue@22: I’ll vouch for that blog, too.

    Re: Brit shows: My favorite currently is the Graham Norton Show, a hilarious talk show made more so by the fact that the guests are encouraged to drink.

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  27. Connie said on March 6, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Fort Wayners, your long time library director, Jeff Krull has announced his upcoming retirement, effective 9/1.

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  28. LAMary said on March 6, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Sue, Kenneth Branagh has earned my lifelong scorn for his American accent. That and the fact he takes himself way too seriously.

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  29. brian stouder said on March 6, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Connie – I saw that; and I’d vote for YOU to take it over.

    Krull might or might not be brilliant, I’ve no idea.

    But it has always amused me a little bit that one of his first actions was to name the exhibition gallery within our very nice public library after himself(!)

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  30. Scout said on March 6, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Of the 40 or so FM stations in the Phoenix area I listen to exactly 2 of them – our NPR station (KJZZ) and a low power indie station (KWSS) that plays music I never hear anywhere else, that I often will then buy from iTunes. We also have an AM progressive talk radio station (KPHX) which carries all the usual suspects like Steph Miller, Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes and Tom Hartman, but there are so many commercial breaks it drives me nuts. Otherwise we have too much country, too much ClearChannel formula pop crap, rap, Spanish and religious, none of which I can stand except for occassionally the Spanish.

    fdchief218 – excellent post! More of that, please!

    I love TNC’s writing. His piece on Jordan Davis’s mother brought me to tears. No doubt a Mitch Albom version would have done the same, but for a completely different reason.

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  31. Minnie said on March 6, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Don’t cotton to mainstream “country”. We listen to a lot of alt-this and alt-that on alt-radio, CDs, at house concerts, and know that Gram Parson lives.

    Musician Darrell Scott expresses his opinion in “Long Time Gone”:

    “We listen to the radio to hear what’s cookin’
    but the music ain’t got no soul.
    Now they sound tired, but they don’t sound haggard
    They’ve got money, but they don’t have cash
    They’ve got junior, but they don’t have hank
    . . . . “

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  32. Julie Robinson said on March 6, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Slight correction; Krull had nothing to do with naming the gallery. I worked for the library at the time. He did a great job of slowly overhauling a very entrenched bureaucracy. When I talk with friends who live elsewhere, I’m always appreciative at the high level of the good ol’ ACPL.

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  33. Sue said on March 6, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    LAMary, where did he do an American accent? I haven’t seen much of his work.
    And now that I’m thinking of American/British ‘A’s, perhaps someone from here or over there (haven’t heard from Jerry in awhile) can address a matter that’s bothered me for many years:
    Another Brick in the Wall, II – why is it
    No dark sarcAsm (flat flat a) in the clAHssroom (British a)?
    I don’t really pick up flat ‘A’s when I hear British English and this just seems to stick out. Every time I hear it I feel like correcting someone. One or the other please, gentlemen.

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  34. brian stouder said on March 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Julie – fair enough, and I stand corrected.

    Bitter Scribe – I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the (to me, superb!) Coates essay.

    Regarding music, I hit the button ’till I find something I like. I will say – a surprisingly interesting show is NBC’s The Voice (for lots of good reasons, and for some sketchier ones, really), and lots of musical discussion occurs there, between cookie-cutter ‘up close and personal’ schmaltz.

    So sue me; I like the show!

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  35. Bob (not Greene) said on March 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    And then there’s Hank Williams’ grandson. Here’s him covering one of his grandfather’s classic tunes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlhZpaCZXJY

    And here’s him giving you his opinion of Nashville’s music scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEY8ARSGHTU

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  36. Deborah said on March 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    fdchief218 who are you? And where have you been all my life? I could read comments like that all day long.

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  37. Jeff Borden said on March 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    I’m big on a young talent named Brian Keane, who had a song out last year called “I’ll Sing About Mine (The Tractor Song),” which just pretty much napalmed Nashville wannabes.

    Sample lyric:

    “Because tractors ain’t sexy and workin is hard
    For small town people like me
    And the radio’s full of rich folks singing
    ‘Bout places they’ve never seen

    Now I aint saying their life ain’t hard,
    I’d love to hear about it sometime
    But let them sing about their own life
    And I’ll sing about mine.”

    I love the sarcasm.

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  38. Dave said on March 6, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I think the Allen County Public Library is a gem and appreciate it even more when my daughter, who was a part-timer at the Dupont Branch, recently moved to north of Chicago suburbs, Lake County, misses it so much. She has gone to the libraries in her new area and says nothing compares. Didn’t Mr. Krull push the wholesale remodeling of the downtown library, despite the usual Fort Wayne, it’s good enough, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them think, why do we even need it, talk.

    Discussions about music leave me wondering how much longer I can continue to listen to the same stuff I’ve listened to for years, in today’s world of streaming and online music, you’d think that I could find something new I’d like. I will be checking out some of these alternative renegades. About the only radio I ever listen to is, like many of you, NPR. Fort Wayne is a hopeless place for radio and Tampa Bay seems to have more of the same with a nicer winter climate. Doubt that I’ll ever subscribe to satellite radio, paying for smartphones, Internet, and cable or satellite TV is enough outlay.

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  39. Basset said on March 6, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Joe, you’re right about East Nashville but that’s hipster land over there… some if those acts seem to mean it but others appear to be the same kind of opportunists who would have worn eyeliner in the 70s and skinny ties in the 80s. Which is fine, I suppose, it’s a paycheck, but I don’t want to spend money or attention on it.

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  40. Jeff Borden said on March 6, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Terrestrial radio is tough, Dave. When traveling I try to look for the college stations at the far left end of the dial. You may pick up some great jazz, punk rock, world music, etc., but the signals are often a bit weak and they won’t last long as you travel.

    I’ve been evangelizing for satellite radio since my wife gave me one in summer 2004, right after I got forced out of my last journalism job. It’s worth the money if you love music.

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  41. nancy said on March 6, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    If you can’t justify the cost of satellite radio — entirely understood at this end, although every time Alan brings home a car with Sirius I soften a little more — internet radio is a free alternative. There are still stations here and there around the country with imaginative playlists, and Alan has found most of them, including KEXP in Seattle, KCRW in Santa Monica and WWOZ in New Orleans. He listens late at night on our Apple TV, via the downstairs stereo.

    As for commercial radio, I will say that one perk of life on the east side of Detroit is CBC Radio coming across the river, as well as CJAM, the college station in Windsor.

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  42. beb said on March 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Nancy @15: Tghe one sentence paragraph is an old newspaper tick from the 19th century when type was set by hand. If a story ran long the editor would look for a sentence he could delete. If that sentence were written as a paragraph then the editor could pull out the one or two sticks of type, push everything else up to close the gap and voila! The story would fit in its space without having to be reset from scratch.

    Today it’s just a bad habit, much like reading Mitch Albom.

    basset @11: this probably goes further to explain the steady decline in music sales, rather than that nasty ol’ pirate stuff. People know when they’re being played and stop lisitening to formulaic junk.

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  43. LAMary said on March 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    My new used car came with a free trial of Sirius. I got stuff in the mail telling me it was 14.99 per month to keep it and I ignored it. Then I got a call from them offering me six months for 24.99. That I took. I think Sirius will definitly bargain with you if you ask.

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  44. LAMary said on March 6, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Sue, Kenneth Branagh was in a movie called Dead Again which I thought really stank. Emma Thompson was in it too. It was when they were a couple.

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  45. Dexter said on March 6, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    The Santa Monica station is great but I never listen anymore because XM Radio blows all the “I Heart Radio” programming away.
    I went for years lamenting the decline of radio, the shit-pop crap I had to listen to when someone else had control. Satellite radio was like a re-birth for me. I’d keep it over cable TV if I had to choose.
    Todd Snider was mentioned and he really is a great entertainer.
    Nowadays I don’t listen to XM 60 Outlaw Country much because I have settled on turning the knob between the Pearl Jam station, the all-Bruce Springsteen station, and Seriously Sinatra XM 71 / the forties channel, XM 4. It’s amazing to hear most-all the tunes my mom played on the old record player at home all those years ago. There’s nothing better than those Big Band tunes with all the great, great vocalists from the 1940s. And in the morning, XM 127 gives me “The Stephanie Miller Show”. To each his own, and with satellite radio, it’s really so much better: you can pick whatever you want. Now sometimes I get tired of their Jazz channel and really do prefer just going to Spotify to tailor my picks to all-tenor sax men. I call myself Dexter because of a forty-year appreciation of the late Dexter Gordon.

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  46. LAMary said on March 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I like Bruce Springsteen, but the Sirius channel devoted to him gets so boring. How many so-so live recordings of the same song can you take? Good live recordings are one thing. Endless live recordings with sort of shitty sound are another. Love Bruce, but not bad versions of Bruce.

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  47. brian stouder said on March 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    I think Springsteen is a Jersy thing…

    but I could go for a Pearl Jam station, though

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  48. Dexter said on March 6, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    LAMary, so right you are. I love Bruce, but when they’re playing those concerts…off I go again up the dial a couple spaces to Eddie. Yesterday I could not run fast enough to the controls (I blast XM through an XM Radio boombox) because Bruce was playing a tribute to The Bee Gees…he was actually singing “Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’s Alive”. It was so horribly creepy I was cringing. (Bruce has been over there in Oz.)
    I also hate Dave Marsh, the Bruce biographer and Rolling Stone man. Why? One day I heard him dismissing Elvis Costello as an irritating lightweight. So FUCK him!

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  49. LAMary said on March 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    What I find myself listening to in the car, more than anything else, is the SD card my sons put together for me. It’s all over the map and I appreciate that they tried to find stuff I would like, whether it’s old (lots of Kinks) or new (La Saint Cecilia). I’ve felt a little let down by satellite so far. I like BBC World Service and some of the music channels, but really, the SD card and KCRW are on more than anything else.

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  50. Julie Robinson said on March 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    They made you your very own mix tape, er, mix SD. How sweet is that?

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  51. Scout said on March 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Nancy mentioned the Apple TV device. It’s got a radio App built in and there are umpteen genres all with a bajillion stations. There is no way you’d ever be able to listen to them all. My favorite is Lush from SOMA Radio. Soma is available without the device at somafm.com

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  52. LAMary said on March 6, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    My sons have been making mix tapes or loading my IPods for a few years. It’s always a surprise when I listen to them.

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  53. alex said on March 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    You don’t necessarily have to have Apple TV to stream music from your computer to your stereo. If you’ve got a Mac computer and AirPort, you can plug a sound jack into AirPort from your stereo receiver and send signals to it from iTunes, iRadio (which has a good selection of stations) or any station on the internet.

    Unfortunately you can’t take it with you in your car, but I don’t see satellite as worth the bother. Kind of a shame that broadcast stations have all pretty much gone to hell. They used to give me a sense of local flavor when traveling by car.

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  54. Deborah said on March 6, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    LA Mary what a cool mom you are to have sons like that.

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  55. Deborah said on March 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I should add that I don’t even know what an SD is?

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  56. LAMary said on March 6, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I don’t know if I’m a cool mom or just lucky. Seriously. Older son has spent the last two weekends helping me make homemade marmalade. We started with blood orange marmelade, a very small batch, then a neighbor gave me a big bag of meyer lemons from her tree so we made meyer lemon marmalade. Then we made a meyer lemon and blood orange mixture, which is probably the best one so far mostly because we’re learning the right sugar/water/fruit ratios. Next is grapefruit. Neighbors with trees with too much fruit are inspiring this project.
    An SD is a little memory card, Deborah. My new car’s radio has a slot for SDs.

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  57. jcburns said on March 6, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Nancy, are you quoting the haunting lyrics from WKRP in Cincinnati for this post’s title?

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  58. Dorothy said on March 6, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Hey Dexter. I just came from a play rehearsal/brush up and our lead actor has a theory about True Detective. He thinks the latest murder victim, the reason why those two cops were questioning Rust and Marty, is because the murder Vic is Marty’s eldest daughter. What do you think??

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  59. Deborah said on March 6, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    LA Mary, earlier this week we bought a giant bag of oranges off of a truck vendor, don’t know what else to call this, it was a big 16 wheeler flat bed parked in a vacant lot, just loaded with oranges. I asked the vendor where they were from, he said Arizona, but who knows. When we got home and I had one it was kinda pithy and dry, not juicy and tart the way I like oranges to be (I’m used to Florida oranges from my childhood). We’ve been trying to think of what to do with them, marmalade sounds like a good idea. But at least the color of them works with the interior of the place in Santa Fe and they were much cheaper than a bunch of flowers, so if they turn out to be bad tasting at least they look nice. We did use some cut up to stuff inside a chicken, that was delicious, so at least some are OK.

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  60. Deborah said on March 6, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Interesting theory Dorothy. But you’d think Marty would act a bit more upset during questioning if that were the case.

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  61. Dorothy said on March 6, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I said the same thing but this actor said maybe they don’t have an ID on the girl yet. This actor is a defense lawyer in real life. I think he’s prone to wild ideas, but I guess we’ll find out on Sunday.

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  62. Bill said on March 6, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Dorothy, what play are you rehearsing/performing? From your description of the cast and multiple roles it sounds as if it could be “The Dining Room.”

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  63. Deborah said on March 6, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I changed my Gravatar to an image my daughter took of me in Abiquiu, NM today. I”ve got a pick-axe over my shoulder and if I could have a caption it would say “I know where all the bodies are buried”.

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  64. beb said on March 6, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    What’s this … Paul Ryan’s story about the little boy and the brown lunch bag was plagiarized?


    What kind of a man keeps stealing stories from other people after he’s been caught several times already doing that? What an incredibly useless person.

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  65. basset said on March 6, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Hmmm, will have to try that with Sirius. Just beat Comcast down some, maybe I can get on a roll. Deep Tracks and the Willie channel are my main ones on there, not so much comedy any more… if there’s some way to lock out the Springsteen and Howard Stern channels I haven’t found it yet.

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  66. Deborah said on March 6, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Watching Chicagoland on CNN now.

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  67. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 6, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Redford did nice work here (his team, obviously) with “Chicagoland.” The school closing debate in cities is always painful and pointless, except if you’re the exceptions; fewer kids means you don’t need as many schools. I respect that they didn’t go for the easy out and focus on Davis the Chicago teachers union boss who probably did more damage to teachers unions than declining enrollment. Rahm is good with kids, who knew! But he’s not over-romanticized or left unquestioned — room to push more in future episodes, as I hope they do. Rahm can take it. And Ms. Dozier, principal of Fenger, deserves more than her 15 minutes, along with the eight year old (8?) young man with the powerful speaking style.

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  68. Deborah said on March 6, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I agree Jeff tmmo, Davis is a huge problem. I thought the show was well done, looking forward to the next 7 episodes.

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  69. Dorothy said on March 7, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Bill I opened last weekend in “Expecting Isabel.” About a couple working through infertility issues. My husband was surprised that it was more serious than he expected it to be. Comedy is there, too, but considering what the issue is…well it has serious moments too, of course. I played Yolanda, mother of the young man, Paula, a loud-mouthed opinionated older woman in a support group, and a nurse in a clinic collecting semen samples. It’s lots of fun!

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