Posted by: Jon Fine on February 28, 2008
I square my own complicated feelings about radio with the on-the-ground realities (in-the-air realities? on-the-airwaves realities?) in this week’s column.
I remain convinced, as I said in the piece, that more songs have been written about radio than any other medium.
I’m also convinced that bands write songs about radio waaaaay less frequently than they used to, even if some pals elsewhere helpfully pointed out some recent examples. There is still validation at having your song played on the radio—it’s still an important marker of having “made it,” if only for three minutes—and, I'm sure, songs still get written about that. But I think almost anyone writing such songs today are writes them with some kind of wistfulness, or at least with an (ironic!) eyebrow cocked.
I could be totally wrong on that point. (And tell me if I am.) But you don't grow up today listening to radio the way those from another generation did . . . wait, is this in any way a new notion? No, not at all, aside from the degree to which radio's cultural importance continues to recede. You can take the shrinking tally of songs-about-radio as evidence of that.
Because, yes, the Buggles were getting all arch about it in this over-referenced cultural moment, but then Queen got very somber about in this elegiac number--which dates back to 1984, for chrissakes.
Silver Lining For Radio Department: I don't think anyone's writing songs about what's happening to newspapers, either. (They have TV shows for that.)