Monday, June 19, 2006

Swampish Rules for Road Radio

Over the years I've done my share of long-distance road tripping, much of it solo, and much of the time sans cd player. As I was driving back to New Orleans from the swampland today, sending my radio's seek function on its usual quixotic quest for something I can stand at least until the next commercial, my mind inevitably wandered from the aural lobotomy that is commercial radio, and I started thinking of the intuitive set of rules I've acquired for listening to radio in unfamiliar territory. So, I thought I'd share a few observations on the subject.

These, to my mind, are truisms. They might also be plagiarisms, I'm not sure:

1) "Today's best new music" isn't. Next station.
2) The only difference between New Country and old pop is the accent. If you've got a soft spot for Hank Sr., you may be tempted to listen past the song intro. You've been warned.
3) Hip-hop only sounds good when it's coming from your own car. Appropriate for a road trip, but 3 song max per station, otherwise you'll start to think you actually like it.
4) Gospel music is occasionally your friend; Christian rock never is. On the other hand, if you find yourself kind of digging a song and then realize it's Christian rock, don't beat yourself up about it. Just move on quietly and pretend you didn't notice.
5) Sometimes Tom Petty seems like the greatest thing you've ever heard. Sometimes, not so much.
6) If it's Zeppelin, leave it. The worst Zeppelin is better than what's playing on every other station right now.
7) Greatest idea for a format that I'll never listen to: Christian Country. Why it doesn't exist yet, I don't know. That it doesn't exist yet makes me nervous.
8) If you're over 30, you'll inevitably hear a song from high school on the Classic Rock station, so get used to it. And that's if you've been good; if you've been bad, it'll be "light rock."
9) Give college radio dj's a lot of slack (4 song minimum). Just think of all the listening time that went into dredging up that esoteric crap.
10) Every station that plays the "best hits" of the past half-century seems to have only three cds from each decade, and they aren't the ones you liked.

So, my three readers, there are my rules for road radio listening. Feel free to add, dispute, whatever. Hey, man, it's your radio.