Thursday, July 05, 2007

Less than classic

I recently attended a concert of one of my favorite bands, a group that has been recording together for more than 30 years. It was a fine time, as usual, but the show serves here as an introduction to a relatively easy target: classic rock formats in radio.

The concert was co-sponsored by the local classic rock station. OK, nice to have it help out. The show featured the usual mix of new songs off the latest CD and the greatest hits, more or less. After the show, when we got in the car for the drive home, we turned on the radio for the traditional "concert replay." Sure enough, it was there.

But a funny thing happened during that replay. Nothing that was recorded after the mid-1980's was included. It was almost as if nothing musically had happened in the past two decades. Since the band played nine songs off the new CD, you might guess correctly that this shortened the concert replay considerably.

It's pretty typical of classic rock stations, which aren't quite conservative enough for Mitt Romney's tastes. There's never any risks taken on these stations. You almost never hear a song that you haven't heard a few thousand times before. It's the same old/same old, hour after hour. It won't make you turn the dial with an objectionable song, but it won't lure you in to hear something new either.

Now, this goes against a long tradition of rock music's roots, which challenge conventional thinking and expanded horizons. But I'm not naive enough to think that something like that will happen on stations anxious for any sort of ratings. Heck, there's money involved here.

Still, would it kill this station to play new music from bands they are playing anyway? Would it be better to play "Lonesome Days" or "Open All Night" by Bruce Springsteen once in a while, rather than "Born to Run" for the 90th time this month? Maybe "Magnification" from Yes rather than "Roundabout"? "We Got a Hit" by the Who instead of "Won't Get Fooled Again"?

Classic rock is comforting in big cities when traveling, because at least it's familiar and usually doesn't require a major search when navigating Interstates. Otherwise, I prefer to take the time to find something a little more adventurous.