And In The End…

 

Earlier this month I wrote about saying goodbye to my old Volvo. I told of how the car’s radio, broken for years, had magically sparked to life as I took the old gal out for her last ride.  The song that was playing when the music came through the speakers? “When I Need You” by Leo Sayer. The radio station? 100.3 The Sound.

 

100.3 The Sound

 

Yesterday the FCC made it possible for only a few piggies to have all the pie in the broadcast radio and TV markets of America. I’m simplifying, to be sure, but that’s the way a lot of folks see it, and I’m one of them there folks.

 

Yesterday was also the last day an L.A. radio station served our market. 100.3 The Sound has been around for 10 years and it’s been grand. The station played classic rock, but not like some of the nationally programmed crap we’re fed. The Sound used real-live DJs, and they were responsible for providing listeners with music not found anywhere else on the dial. The DJs had distinct personalities and tastes. That used to be common. I grew up with terrestrial radio like that. But today? Nope. Up and down the dial, it’s nowhere to be found, or it’s so rare as to require a wire hanger and acrobatic maneuvers in order to tune it in.

 

The Sound knew the end was nigh, as it had been sold to one of those aforementioned station-grabbing piggies. The DJs had been preparing us – the listeners – and themselves for the inevitable last song. Along the way, I paid attention to the DJs, to the station’s ads and to the music. One of the spots referenced the fact that a lot of the songs played there may never again be heard on radio. Think about that. Will I happen to hear “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads elsewhere? Sure. But will I hear “Fool to Cry” by The Rolling Stones? Probably not. And I damn sure won’t hear “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys” by Traffic. Not gonna happen. Not in the Los Angeles market anyway. Not anymore.

 

So as 100.3 The Sound wrapped up their run yesterday, Andy Chanley (the first DJ at the station, a decade ago) said something about “…the last 11 words of this album side…” I immediately started crying. I knew what was coming: side 2 of “Abbey Road” in its entirety. For a few years in my youth, I fell asleep listening to that each and every night. On vinyl, just like they played it on The Sound. Yesterday, as I listened to the masterpiece in the middle of the day, I took care of some bid-ness and earned my keep. All the DJs and staff had gathered for the final farewell. They expressed their gratitude for each other, for the listeners, for the station, for the music. At the close of “Abbey Road,” the format immediately changed to christian pop, whatever the fuck that ungodly mess is. The now former DJs and staff are all likely searching for new jobs.

 

Speaking for the listeners, I can tell you that we are merely searching.

Girls

 

 

Yesterday, as I was treading water for exercise, I was also listening to some classic rock. You know – to pass the time. At some point, a familiar song wobbled through the Los Angeles heat, across the pool’s water and into my memory stores. I started smiling.

 

Years and years ago, when we used to buy vinyl (that’s right), I would regularly save my money until I had enough to go to the record store. And I remember going to the Jamestown Mall in North County St. Louis, in full quest mode. I had heard an amazing song on a local college radio station, by a band out of Athens, GA. And I wanted that record for myself. I walked through the store, flipping through a few stacks of vinyl and seeing what was new. After a while, I was ready to make my purchase and go home. So I moseyed to the “R” section and quickly found what I was looking for: Murmur by REM. The funny thing was, there were about 3 dudes close behind me. Apparently, they had the same idea as I and wanted to buy that very album for themselves. But there was only one copy. And I got there first. Being teenage boys, and feeling safety in numbers, they weren’t shy about speaking loud enough to be heard. They said things like, “That girl got the only one!” And, “She won’t buy it. She’s just looking. Girls don’t know anything about music.” They were just over my shoulder, and I could sense them waiting for me to put the record back in its allotted slot. I thought about how those St. Louis dudes probably didn’t even know where Athens, GA was. Hell – they probably didn’t know where the state of Georgia was. I turned to face them, smiling, and walked to the register. They actually followed me to the front of the store, as if I might change my mind. I didn’t. I paid my money, took my record home, listened to it about a jillion times and fell in love with the songs that would never be heard on the radio, college or otherwise.

 

It occurred to me, in that long ago moment, that I could have said something snarky to those boys. I remember thinking I could have made some snide remark about their mothers waiting outside to drive them home, while twirling my car keys on my middle finger. But I didn’t. I didn’t need to. I had gotten what I’d come for. And in that moment, those boys couldn’t believe a girl had bested them, though she truly had. All the way around.

“Once Nina”

 

 

Last week Betro and I went to a show. One of our Rock Camp buddies was having her record-release party and it was great! There were so many familiar faces, so much love. Those Rock Camp chicks really are aces.

 

And then there was the music. The first act up was Tonopah, fronted by Rock Camp volunteer Effie. This band makes me happy, as their music is joy-filled. And Effie is so utterly darling. As a Brit, she was the only chick at the club wearing shorts in March.

 

The next act to take the stage was Wolf Prize. I adore this band and their music. All members are Rock Camp volunteers and I swear – they really are fab.

 

By the time Once Nina took the stage, Betro and I had moved to the front of the room to watch the show from a close vantage. As I watched so many friends, including front woman Nina, I realized I was witnessing someone’s dream coming true. I started smiling and didn’t stop. With that thought in mind, I felt totally present. And privileged.

 

All these dear souls are in my life because of Rock and Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles. They are my friends, my tribe. I love them and I am incredibly grateful to know them. Because I’m me, and therefore terribly flawed, I sometimes succumb to self-doubt. During those dark moments, I wonder if I have anything at all to offer these ladies. I wonder if there is any reciprocity in our relationships. I feel like I get so much out of knowing them. I don’t always think they can possibly benefit as much from knowing me. So when I read Nina’s personal note to me on the back of her debut vinyl, I was incredibly touched.

 

 

It’s true – I do know dark moments. The night of the Once Nina record-release show wasn’t one of them. In fact, it couldn’t have been any brighter.

In The Beginning…

 

 

“Out in the garden there’s half of a heaven and we’re only bluffing,

we’re not ones for busting through walls.

But they’ve told us unless we can prove that we’re doing it, we can’t have it all.”

Kate Bush

Suspended in Gaffa” from The Dreaming

1982

 

 

It is said that the best place to start is the beginning. At first, I believed that meant March of this year. But the more I thought about it, I realized I would have to reach much further into my past…

 

I was 15 years old and engaged in a bit of night swimming with my friends and my beau of the time. As the moonlight did a Monet jig across the lake’s surface, I heard it. That voice! The composition! What was this heretofore unknown sound that was glimmering across the water to change me forever?

 

Once we’d all returned to shore and were drying off at the house, I asked my young beau about the music I’d heard. Just before our swim, he had lined up several albums on the turntable, under the weight of the automatic arm and then aimed the stereo speakers at the open doors, toward the lake. Now that I had asked, he had to look through the vinyl to locate just what I was after. Once he’d found it, he handed the LP’s cover to me for inspection: Kate Bush – The Dreaming.

 

I didn’t rush out to buy it, but I did file away the memory of that mesmerizing, unique music. When I did purchase my very own copy, I coveted it. And each time a new Kate Bush record was released, I sought it out to add to my collection.

 

Around 5 years later I was working at Streetside Records in St. Louis and would regularly socialize with my awesome coworkers. One night we were at Ron’s house. He had a video of Kate Bush’s “Live at Hammersmith Odeon” from her 1979 tour. That was the only tour she’d ever done, so fans were crazy for it. I don’t know where Ron had gotten his VHS copy, but it was about the coolest thing in town. While we all watched and talked and generally had a good time, Ron told me he’d replaced all his early Kate Bush LPs with CD versions and offered his vinyl to me. Of course I accepted. From then on, Ron and I shared our love of Kate. He was a really good guy.

 

Cut to March 2014. As a member of the Kate Bush fan club (yes, that’s right), I’d received an email alerting fans to the fact that Kate Bush was going to do some shows at the old Hammersmith Odeon, now known as the Eventim Apollo. My head just about exploded! She hadn’t played live shows since the ’79 gigs. The woman just doesn’t tour. Once I stopped hyperventilating, I read the remainder of the email and saw that I could – as a fan club member – take part in a pre-sale of tickets. Well, I started thinking it through. London in September. Money. Mister’s and my anniversary. Money. Travel arrangements. Money. And just when I was about to give in to the frugal part of me, I had this thought: Kate Bush live is a bucket list item. I don’t have a bucket list, friends. It’s never occurred to me to make one. But once I’d thought of Kate Bush’s concert as a bucket list item, I knew I had to try. I talked it over with Mister and he was game. There were no guarantees we’d be able to score seats, as the gigs were sure to be hot tickets. But it was worth a shot.

 

That is how I found myself hunched over my computer in the middle of an L.A. night, back in March of this year. That is why I clicked “purchase” when I got through the process of selecting seats and entering all required information on the vendor’s website. That is how Mister and I found ourselves with tickets to a Kate Bush concert in London.

 

22 shows sold out in 15 minutes. I was part of that. Now all I had to do was wait until September…

 

To be continued…