A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Classic Kasem

Our Saturday morning routine for the last four or five years has been to tune in the local oldies station for rebroadcasts of “classic” episodes of Casey Kasem’s American Top Forty. The programs let us relive our youth when we did not have the responsibilities we have today, remind us of songs we haven’t heard in eons, and hear music that is new to our ears since they did not get played that much even when they were on the charts. The aural tastes of our past years can be invigorating, which is more than can be said for Kasem himself these days.

The long time radio announcer's health is in decline, or (as he might say) he’s slipping down the charts. I know, cheap shot! Unfortunately, the ongoing squabbles between his current wife and Casey’s grown children - who desire to visit their father before he dies - is not affording him the dignity of living out his final days in peace. The stepmother has recently been reported flinging hamburger at the daughter. Yes, boys and girls, this is how grown-ups resolve their differences! I’m willing to bet that even the lawyers for both sides have thrown their hands up in despair.

Even as Casey Kasem’s deteriorating health and family conditions become ongoing tabloid fodder, we can still enjoy rebroadcasts of his American Top Forty radio show on our local oldies station. Some weeks the broadcast will be from the 80s, while most weeks a 70s show is heard again.

Warrior Queen is always finding new songs to add to her Saturday Night Dance Party List, usually from the 80s shows. She has not had much luck with the episodes from the 70s, unless they occurred in 1979 when disco seemed to eat up the music charts like a cancer (or so die-hard rock and rollers thought at the time). I myself learned to loathe anything from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack since the top 40 stations were devoting 48 hours/day for their programming. I know each day only contains 24 hours, but top 40 radio back in that day had the power to compound one’s musical pleasure/misery and make it appear that every day lasted 48 hours. If you remember that time, you know what I am talking about.

Little known fact (that I just made up): the decade known as the 70s only seemed to last 20 years because it actually was 20 years long.
Now, with the passage of time, my tastes have mellowed and I find myself enjoying such hits as How Deep Is Your Love. I appreciate the rest of the soundtrack too, but I still don’t care enough to trek down a shop that will sell me platform shoes and bell bottom pants. I never was and never will be a dancer.

I’m talking about the days when music was delivered via a vinyl disc, a needle, and bodacious sound systems. The discs would have to be carried in your arms, extending the length of your forearm, and not the wimpy compact discs which are carried in a space one extends the fingers of their hands.   

Nowadays, kids aren’t even using discs, preferring to hear the expressions of melodic emotions through the use of buds.

Buds! Harrumph! Back when I was young, we either drank or smoked buds, but never shoved them in our ears. I know, I know, pipe down, middle-aged man!

As we listen to the shows, Warrior Queen and I can’t help but try to peg each song with a certain label. We can all agree that songs by groups like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath can be classified as hard rock and heavy metal. Barry Manilow? Definitely soft rock! Bee Gees, late 70s disco, naturally!

Then there is some music we hear which doesn’t easily fit into any established genres. No matter! We make up new genres as we go. Such as…
You’ve heard of SOFT ROCK? How about FLACCID ROCK – for those songs that emote on and on about true romantic love, yet can’t get it up to act on it. Prime example: any song by Air Supply

Or PRETENTIOUS ROCK, filled with bombastic rhythms, lyrics filled with complicated metaphors, and soaring orchestral passages. Example: anything written, produced, and/or performed by Jim Steinman, who peaked with Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell.

Then, walking back farther down Memory Lane, we have songs that don’t even reach up to the level of flaccidity. I’m talking about songs such as Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree, or Charlene’s I’ve Never Been to Me. These songs have earned spots in a genre which we like to call PUT-A-GUN-TO-OUR-HEADS-AND-BLOW-OUR-BRAINS-OUT ROCK.

Seriously, if these songs do goad you to this extreme behavior, then please seek help.

Casey Kasem may soon be gone, but we’ll have our memories of his shows to get us through our own elder years.

(Thank you for reading! And now, on the Victrola, Dawn singing Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose?)


Anonymous Janey, The Gyspy Rose said...

Tony Orlando and Dawn are the greatest musical act EVER, and I will bitchslap the taste out of the mouth of anyone who says otherwise! :-) (Unless, of course, I have been smoking buds, in which case I put on some classic 70's disco!)

Party on, RTG and WQ!

Love, Janey,

June 7, 2014 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger slugmama said...

Up for nomination as an all-time bad song....."Alone again, naturally" by Gilbert O'Sullivan.
Just the fact that this singer bastardized one of the great operetta duos names is enough to get him draqn and quartered in my book....but then again, most of his brainless audience probably has/had no clue who Gilbert & Sullivan were. 8-((

June 7, 2014 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

Mr Kasem would drive me to distraction with his count down as he dragged out the last 5 songs. Oh how I wanted him to hurry it up!

June 7, 2014 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger Harpers Keeper said...

I'll confess to having, back in the day, a fondness of the Jim Steinman 'wall-of-sound, over-produced recordings. Rather than "Pretenious" I think I'll go with "guilty pleasures rock". No point in being young and foolish if one can't be a little, you know, foolish.

June 13, 2014 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Hi Janey, thanks for the comment. Tony Orlando and Dawn greatest musical act ever? Hmm...we need to talk.

Hi Slugmama, thanks for the comment! Actually there was a time when Alone Again Naturally was my anthem, but I've outgrown those feelings, and traded them for a new set of neuroses.

Hi Spo, sorry that Casey irritated you. Of course you were a responsible American consumer and immediately purchased all the products Kasem advertised in those final, cliff-hanging moments of every American Top Forty episode? Right?

Thanks for the Jim Steinman comment, Harpers Keeper. Yes, "guilty pleasure rock" works for me. I think he peaked with his own version of "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through". On the other hand how wrong could Barbara Streisand be when she recorded her version of "Left in the Dark." But now I'm just babbling....

June 17, 2014 at 7:34 AM  

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