(Pictured: Taylor Swift at the Grammys. There’s a plausible argument that she’s about to be as transformative in her time as Sinatra, Elvis, and the Beatles were in theirs.)
Time for another collection of worthwhile links I’ve recently noted on the Twitter machine:
—There’s a new vintage WLS aircheck from 1973 at Airchexx.com featuring Charlie Van Dyke, Fred Winston, John Landecker, J. J. Jeffrey, and Bill Bailey. It’s a style of radio nobody does anymore and most modern listeners wouldn’t like much, I don’t think—it’s fast and frantic and often pretty silly. If your ears are sharp, you’ll hear some oldies that may surprise you.
—Jim Booth, author of Completeness of the Soul: The Life and Opinions of Jay Breeze, Rock Star, reviews Rod Stewart’s autobiography and finds both more and less than he expected.
—Taylor Swift’s new album 1989 represents a cultural earthquake of the kind that just doesn’t happen with music anymore. Saving Country Music posted an extensive review and commentary that will take you a while to get through and even longer to unpack, but it’s worth it.
—Between last week and this week, dozens of radio stations across the country have gone all-Christmas. Before this year’s blizzard began, the New York Times wrote about the phenomenon, in which stations beat the hell out of a 300-cut library for two solid months—and watch their ratings go through the roof.
—After Philadelphia’s WXPN counted down its top 885 songs of all time recently, it counted down its listeners’ picks of the 88 worst songs of all time. In Billboard, Sean Ross pondered just what “worst” means to people when the subject is music.
—In the fall of 1964, after seven months of raging Beatlemania, Playboy magazine sent author and radio host Jean Shepherd (famed now for A Christmas Story) to interview the Beatles. Why this isn’t a more famous piece of writing about the Beatles I cannot imagine.
And now, some additional notes: First, this blog has a companion Tumblr site, and I’m going to keep flogging it until you go there. I put up some fabulous pictures on it just this morning.
Second, this week marks the 10th anniversary of Funky16Corners, the funk and soul blog maintained by Larry Grogan. I am mildly surprised to learn that Larry’s site is a bit younger than mine, although he ran it as a fanzine for a while before that. Larry is a living encyclopedia of funk and soul (and of garage rock too, at Iron Leg) and he has been über-generous in sharing both music and knowledge, on his blog and in private communication, year in and year out. My bucket list doesn’t have much on it, but it includes being in the club someday when Larry is working the wheels of steel from his collection.
Third, Q106, the country station for which I toil, ranked #1 in persons 12-plus for the summer ratings period here in Madison. That’s a remarkable accomplishment, given that few people would characterize Madison as a country-music kind of town. But great things happen when a station has a clear vision and a plan for achieving it, and people with the focus and commitment to execute the plan. It’s my good fortune to be part of the team at Q106, and at Magic 98, which has also topped Madison in persons 12-plus within the last year. We’re proving that live, local radio still matters—and that it will beat the pants off the canned, out-of-market variety almost every time. Q is not touting its success on the air, however. As we frequently remind ourselves, what we do is not about us: the listener is the star.