Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bitch at the Switch

By Cornelia

My sister calls me the "bitch at the switch," when it comes to car radios. I have no patience with crappy songs or drive-time DJ blather. I'm as likely to bitch out Al Franken as Rush Limbaugh when I'm behind the wheel, and have been known to indulge in verbal line-edit hissy-fits whenever some NPR pundit says "normalcy" or gets sloppy with adverbs.

When I got in the car to drive my kids to school this morning, the first song to come blaring out of the speakers was "Sweet Home Alabama," which just about put me over the edge. What's with whole the lowest-common-denominator playlist thing? It's like our Gross National Music Output got capped at the same 50 B-sides halfway through my Sophomore year in high school. I just want to take a sledge hammer to the same-old same-old pile of moldering CDs I keep hearing regurgitated on the airwaves, day after simpering day.

And I'm not just whining about oldies stations or classic-rock or the monotonous jack-hammer of hip-hop formats--I want the Jazz Police to stop yammering on about whose second cousin played alto sax at the last minute on some rainy Tuesday session in 1952 because there was a bus strike in Scranton, and I've had it up to here with the tired-ass baroque pablum interspersed with the same two Aaron Copland numbers on every last classical station's "Island of Sanity" hour.

Please God can we start a national petition to ban the broadcast of overplayed dreck, even one day a week? At this point, I'd welcome the return of "How Much is That Doggie in the Window," just to break the aural monotony.

Here is the list of songs I would most like to see eradicated from the collective Heavy-Rotation unconscious:

1. "The Letter."

Look, we know that your baby, she wrote you a letter, already. It was like forty years ago--get over it. Buy the woman an iMac and sign her up for a free Yahoo account. You might learn something.

2. "Riders on the Storm."

Yeah, yeah... into this world we're born. DUH. Every time there's a damn cloud in the sky, somebody has to play this stupid song. It's like the warning that they're about to turn on the lettuce misters in a produce aisle. You wanna light my fire? Slap some marshmallows and half a Hershey bar around this puppy at your next campfire and make a S'more out of it.

3. "Sweet Home Alabama."

Carry your own damn self home to your kin and while you're at it, lay off Neil Young. Watergate still bothers the hell out of me, and y'all suck if your conscience is clean about that whole guv'nor thing.

4. Any song with "Rock 'n' Roll" in the title.

Please stop givin' us that ol' time Rock 'n' Roll. It does not soothe my soul, it gives my soul hives. And that goes for any other song about songs. Ew. Tie them up in a burlap sack with Billy Joe McAllister and some big rocks and throw the whole mess over the mid-span stretch of safety rail on the Tallahatchee Bridge. Buh-Bye.

5. "Leather and Lace."

This is just gross. Let us remember that the world did not need an ballad which brings to mind Stevie Nicks's fashion sense, which is itself an oxymoron. I would rather spend the rest of my life on a desert island with a 45 of "Havin' My Baby" than ever hear this again. And that's saying something.

6. "Havin' My Baby."

Come to think of it, they don't make desert islands big enough. I'll take my chances with the reef-load of sharks.

7. "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

This is like going over a bottomless cliff in a busful of drunk cheerleaders. Stop the madness.

8. "Mony Mony."

Why? Whyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?

9. "My Sharona."

She's all yours, just get her AWAY FROM ME.

10. "Wheel in the Sky."

That Steve Perry guy can't shut up about how it keeps on turnin', so why is it still here? Can we just attach it to the rear axle on that busload of drunk cheerleaders and give it a jump-start off the bottomless cliff?

11. "My Cherie Amour."

Pretty little one that I abhor. Let's put this toxic bonbon in the gladiator ring with "Ebony and Ivory" and hope for mutually assured destruction.

12. "Another Brick in the Wall."

Isn't the wall done yet? Maybe we can start putting a few bricks in the ceiling and soundproof the sucker.

13. "Heartache Tonight."

Two words: Alka. Seltzer.

What songs would you ban, in your perfect totalitarian radio republic?


  1. Can I please add "Afternoon Delight?" When I worked at a horrible order processing/receptionist job, we were subjected to that ditty at least three times a day on the "mix" station (best of the 60s, 70s and 80s at the time). If I never hear its Lawrence Welk-worthy chorus again, it will be too soon.

    Oh, and I'm with you on the Steve Perry. Imagine, I actually liked Journey for about three months in sixth grade. Looking back, I can see that it was really whatever complex it is when one fantasizes about one's sister because, in 1981, my sister and Mr. Perry had the same hair.

  2. I love this post, and would like to offer for consideration of elimination the following:

    1. Disco (excepting the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever)It's the music that accompanies some of the worst fashion and lifestyle choices in the history of Western Civilization.
    2. "We Will Rock You", Queen. I like the irony of all the red-necked bubbas in Sports Land rocking out to a song performed by one of the only openly gay men in popular music. But I'm still sick of it.
    3. "Hello", Lionel Richie. Goodbye.
    4. "Louie Louie", the Kingsmen. Still don't understand the lyrics. No longer care.
    5. "Na Na Na Hey Hey", Steam. An anthem to poor sportsmanship. Ugh.
    6. And I hate to say it, because they're my very favorite band, but I could live without Aerosmith's "Walk this Way". Stick a fork in it, it's way over done.

  3. Okay, okay. But keep your paws off The Coasters' "Yakety Yak."

    "Take out the papers and the trash
    Or you don't get no spending cash
    If you don't scrub that kitchen floor
    You ain't gonna rock and roll no more
    Yakety yak--don't talk back."

  4. "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks: weepy deathbed narrator says goodbye to his loved ones, including "Papa" and "Michelle, my Little One" until you just want to put a damn pillow over his face. DIE ALREADY, DAMN YOU! DIE!

    "The Reason" by the abominably named Hoobastank. "I'm not a perrrfect perrrson..." I'M ABOUT TO GIVE YOU A REASON TO RUN FOR YOUR DAMN LIVES!

    "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes. STOP THAT INFERNAL YODELING! NOW!

    "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette. I don't usually mind Alanis but RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY IS NOT FUCKING IRONIC, OKAY? IT'S YOUR LANGUAGE! LEARN IT!


    That'll do for the moment.

  5. You guys are song-haters after my own heart--ditto ditto ditto on Afternoon Delight through Natalie Im-what's-her-face.

    Paul, I'll keep my mitts off Yakety-Yak, but only because I like you so much.

    I AM glad that a lot of the weepy Seventies "story" songs have faded away--Seasons in the Sun, Ballad of Billy Joe, and the entire Jim Croce oeuvre. I do not care about The Night Chicago Died or whatever Mormon boy lit up Debbie Boone's life.

    Oddly, I have a soft spot for cheesy old instrumental numbers--Theme from a Summer Place, Classical Gas, etc. Probably because I never hear them any more, even in elevators.

  6. Oh my word, C. Too funny.

    For me, it's stuff like Shania Twain's Any Man of Mine. What she's really saying is she should be allowed to do whatever the hell she wants and he's supposed to be a doormat and just smile and take it.

    I'd never marry a guy that spineless. If anyone fed me burnt shit for dinner I wouldn't say, "Um, I like it like that" and I'd think anyone who did was an ass. Unless it's God feeding you you're at least going to sneak it into a napkin and feed it to the dog.

  7. I was listening to the radio--don't remember the song, but it wasn't bad--and the DJ came on, saying, "Sometimes, news slips through the cracks. We're here to help you catch it. I'm John Tesh..." Aaah! Not enough steel wool in the world to scrub that out of my brain.

  8. At least we missed out on John Tesh Live at Red Rocks, Karen. Small mercies...

  9. And Sandra, I do not think I have ever willingly listened to Shania Twain. I can't deal with country music after circa 1968--say from Glen Campbell onward. Kind of like how my jazz brain shuts off at the onset of Bebop.

    I am a Philistine. Oh well.

  10. oh wait, except for the Dixie Chicks. I love them.

  11. I think the updated lyrics to Yackety Yack are something like:

    "Don't you give me no dirty looks
    Your father's hip;he knows what cooks
    Just tell your hoodlum friend outside
    You ain't got time to take a ride
    Yakety yak.....Don't do crack!

    ......I wonder if Glen Campbell ever did get to Phoenix?Oh yeah.....he did, I saw that mug shot...looks like Gibson's or Nolte's....Isn't THAT ironic, don't ya think?

  12. I can't deal with country music after circa 1968--say from Glen Campbell onward.

    Cornelia: Steve Earle. Lucinda Williams. Lyle Lovett. Trust me.

  13. Oh, God, Cornlelia! What a hoot! We have radio channels programmed into the car stereo so we can change a second's notice. For four years or so, 'Brandy (you're a fine girl...)' was played just about every hour, on the hour. Now they've changed to Fleetwood Mac's 'Rhiannon' which brings back a not so great memory for me. Yep, there are so many songs which I could live with not hearing again, but then again there are some that I really enjoy. On our station, they've only just started playing the 'Pina Colada' song and Starbuck's 'Moonlight Feels Right' - which I haven't gotten tired of hearing just YET. We learned those two songs in school choir for some reason.
    I'm dreading the post Thanksgiving christmas songs non-stop till 25 December. Ugh. I even asked them if they'd play a couple of Aussie Christmas carols. The station manager wrote back and said they'd look into it. I'd much rather listen to 'Six White Boomers' a million times than 'Dominic the Donkey'. Sigh. I got cds, I got cds...
    PS: My husband, Bob, could explain why the stations play what they do and why there are limitations. But, he says mitts off of 'Kung Fu Fighting' - he doesn't hear it enough. :-D

  14. The problem is, with modern radio, what they call the "Clear Channel" format. It was designed in the 1980's and the idea is that certain songs will simply be listened over and over ad nauseum by a perecentage of listeners because it is a "comfort zone" to them, and that other songs-the offbeat ones-will be switched away from. And it is based on surveys and HOW ADVERTISERS ads are responded to. The bottom line is profit and money. This is why you get this.This single-handedly ended "album oriented" formats that grew out of the 60's and into the 70's.

    We have an oldies station that plays ENDLESSLY The Monkee's "Day Dream Believer" and Santana's "Black Magic Woman". Of course when they play "Kung Fu Fighting" it is by request and as far as I am concerned it is perhaps the coolest song in the universe, so they can play that six times a day!!

    Bob Eggleton

  15. Right on, Bitch! Good, good, good.
    "The bottom line is profit and money."--sorta like publishing these days.
    You can scratch "Donke Schoen" or Donkey's Skin, or whatever it is--Germanic I am not, so forgive the spelling, please, if I got it wrong.

    Patty's Groupie

  16. This is why you will have to pry my satellite radio out of my cold, dead hands.
    As for my nomination, I agree with most of the songs so far (except "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"; that tape was the first album I ever owned), and I'd like to add Gwen Stefani's "Rich Girl". Because, clearly, what the pop music scene needs is more sampling of songs from Fiddler on the Roof.

  17. This is a rocking diss list.

    I'd like to add:

    Dust in the Wind: the title says it all, don't it?

    YES: All songs by Journey and Rush: the 80s are soooooooo over, dude. thank you!

    I Just Called To Say I Love You: I just called to say Go to Hell.

    Like a Virgin. As if Madonna could EVER go back. In fact, who wants to go back? Not me. Not ever.

    O, and I want Heidi's name.

  18. My diss song for the day is the "little ditty about Jack and Diane," whatever it's called.

    Also, "Smoke on the Water," "Stairway to Heaven," and Supertramp/Cheap Trick generally.

  19. I'd take STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN as one of my faves of all time. Never tired of listening to it. Or anything by ABBA,really. That's an odd combination indeed. My CD stacks contain anything from ABBA, to Laura Branigan(the late),Rob Zombie(in the mood) and Percy Faith(Theme from 'A Summer Place')

    Bob E

  20. I don't hate Stairway to Heaven, but I'd like to not hear it for a day. I was thinking this afternoon (while trying to get away from another rendition of Sweet Home Alabama) that I've probably heard those two songs ever day I've listened to the radio for the last fifteen years. I didn't used to hate them.

    And it's nice to meet another Percy Faith fan...

  21. Sheesh! I don't think I've bought a new CD since Jim Croce's Greatest Hits. I'm almost embarrassed to name the ones I listen to in my car. None of you would ever speak to me again.

  22. I've had this exact thought, banishing certain music from the radio. But I want whole bands to go away. Boston. Hated them then, hate them now. Everything they ever recorded, gone.

    And Fleetwood Mac. A moratorium please, of at least 10 years on every song, except maybe Gold Dust Woman. But even that one needs to go away for a good five years.

    Does the ending of the Mayan calendar somehow converge with this endless loop of recycled dreck on the airwaves? Pop music was never meant to endure. Even you guys who listened to Madonna and Cyndi Lauper as little kids--and you have my sympathies--had your own, new music.

  23. Uh oh.... I like Jim Croce; but I like Percy Faith, too, and Carmina Burana, and the Theme from The Third Man....

    Tom, T.O.

  24. I was waiting for you to mention The Fifth Beatle. As to My Sharona, well, I associate the song with root canal/which is no one's fault.

  25. Was "Sweet Home Alabama" on the Rush Limbaugh fucking Sane People Baiting Show? (that's what its called, really...) It sounds like what he would play...

    Riders on the Storm?

    Cornelia! You're just rebelling against your hipping roots. Be thankful that your country got to see The Doors at their most finest, we only got one show, in a train storage yeard in Camden, y'all got the great headline grabbing, classic perforamnces. Now we have to settle with IanAstbury, the fuck. It's a great song... replace it with fucking James Blunt immediately.