About Me

Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Turn The Radio Up
Friday, April 09, 2010

Although it’s raining outside as I write this, the previous two days were absolutely gorgeous. They were a little slice of summer in early spring, illustrated perfectly by all the kids at Fairfield U being out on the grass, some playing catch, enjoying the sun and the warm temps. When the sun starts making its presence felt and the days become longer I’m always reminded of a very important part of my youth (despite my mother’s occasional claims, I actually do remember some things from when I was a kid), and that would be the many weekend nights I spent with my parents having family dinners on our old screened-in porch while listening to oldies on the radio.

On really nice nights, of which we have many here in CT during the spring and summer, my dad would fire up the grill, we’d set up the porch furniture, clean the pollen off of the glass top table, bring the portable radio out, tune it to 101.1 WCBS-FM, and enjoy the night.

What I remember most about those nights were the oldies countdown shows. WCBS-FM would take you back to “this date in...” and count down the top forty songs from that week. Some of the songs were classics, others were a little less memorable, but the point was it exposed me to something that wasn’t what was currently on pop and hip-hop radio. On more than a few occasions I’d hear, and recognize, the original version of a song that was redone by a current group. I may have been the only kid on my block who knew “Venus” was a Shocking Blue song long before Bananarama turned it into an 80’s classic (and Gillette turned it into an ad campaign for a razor).

This was the real start of my music education. There was never any debate about which station we’d listen to at dinner. It was always WCBS-FM and my parents would make sure to talk about the bands and the songs while they were playing and reminisce about the group if it was one that they had a personal story about. When dinner was over we didn’t all run into the living room and turn on the TV, we hung out on the porch, on the old green furniture that had the 70’s flower design on the cushions, and just listen to music, talk about it, and read whatever we had in front of us. To make it a true family event, my cat and dog also made their way in, with my dog nuzzling next to my mom and my cat making his presence known as the king of the castle. We were all on the old screened-in porch listening to music.

Many of these nights ended with a little bit of Don K. Reed’s Doo Wop Shop, followed by my parents breaking out some of their own extensive record collections and me eventually going to bed to the faint sounds of everything from The Who, to Frank Zappa, to John Cougar Mellencamp, to Jim Croce.

I still keep WCBS-FM as a preset on my car’s radio. When I listen to it now, however, I hear a different kind of “oldies,” my “oldies.” Bands like Bon Jovi, Blondie and UB40 are now in rotation and I start to imagine a future dinner table conversation where I tell my kids (note: I currently have zero) about how when Slippery When Wet came out on vinyl it had a garbage bag cover, and how Blondie’s “Rapture” had a huge impact on hip-hop, in hopes that they, too, will end up showing an interest in music.

I’m 100% sure that was one of the biggest reasons why my parents tuned the radio to their favorite oldies station when I was a kid and started those conversations on so many beautiful summer evenings. When it comes to their plan I think it’s fairly safe to say - mission accomplished.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 10:00 AM  
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