Out of the Air

At year’s end, WordPress sends me a review of my year in blogging. The 2014 numbers show that hits were way down compared to previous years, which is not a surprise. Blogs, we are told, aren’t all that cool anymore. There were 125 new posts here in 2014, which was also less than in previous years and also not a surprise to me. We are long past the era in which I had ideas enough and motivation enough to post five days a week; in 2014, the best I did was three straight days, and not until December 22nd through the 24th. I did manage to post on 48 of the year’s 52 Fridays, so that’s something. The year’s most popular post was one I wrote in 2013 called “On Hating the Eagles,” a subject that will result in search-engine hits until A) people stop hating the Eagles or B) the end of time, which is likely to come first. The year’s most-commented post was “The Big Leagues,” proving that you guys are all like 12 years old.

This first post of the new year collects some of the worthwhile stuff appearing elsewhere that’s cycled through my Twitter feed lately. You may enjoy catching up on it.

We do not pull sound and pictures down out of the air like we used to. We tune in a number and what we want is simply there, not subject to the vagaries of the weather or the placement of an antenna. Some of us remember when tuning the radio and TV wasn’t like that.

Country music has its share of problems right now. One is its woman problem: female artists have trouble getting traction on the radio. Despite their Grammy awards and critical acclaim, people like Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves are overshadowed by male artists with 10 percent of their talent and charisma and far less impressive sales figures. The Guardian recently tried to get to the bottom of the phenomenon. Country also has a drinking problem. You might argue that it always has, but the drinking in country songs used to come out of necessity, as a way of coping with life’s hard knocks. Today, the majority of country’s drinkers are like 16-year-olds home alone: they drink to get drunk. Rolling Stone charted country’s 2014 love affair with party songs.

Anybody who grew up in the 70s, or who has an affinity for seedy old American pop culture, is familiar with cartoonist R. Crumb. The roots of his style can be found in some old ads for Paramount Records, the Wisconsin label that recorded some of the most famous performances in all of Delta blues during the 1930s.

“When recorded sound was in its infancy, more than 150 years ago, inventors still hadn’t answered what was, to them, a fundamental question. What does sound look like?” A 19th century device developed to answer that question is helping preserve the history of recorded sound even today.

If you’re a regular at this blog, this next will make you happy: Candi Staton has recorded a new album at Muscle Shoals. She talks about the album, her life, and her career here.

The Credibility Gap formed in 1968 to do topical comedy for a Los Angeles radio station. Three of the members went on to greater fame: Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and David L. Lander. At some point in the early 70s, they recorded a rock ‘n’ roll version of “Who’s on First.”

At the end of every year, consultant Dan O’Day reposts his “Brief, Incomplete History of Radio,” and it’s great. If you have ever wondered why somebody would want such a crazy, insecure, high-wire of a career, and why some of us love working in radio even though it will never love us back, this is why.

And so we fall face-first into 2015. I am not sure what the year will bring at this blog, but I’m sure there will be something. Especially on Fridays.

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