Saturday, February 12, 2011

Heard it on the radio

I love the radio when I’m driving. Lisa prefers her own playlist on her iPod, but I love the randomness and diversity of spinning the dial. At home my music selection is mostly limited to folk and rock and jazz, but in the car I happily add in hip hop and country and Latin and the frequently uncategorizable local college station shows. And sports radio, and talk radio, and hate radio, and NPR, and almost anything that’s not Diane Rehm. But I only recall being really stunned by music on the radio twice.

On July 21, 1990, I was driving in a small town in Pennsylvania and heard a cover of a song from Pink Floyd’s The Wall. And then I heard another. In my memory, it was Joni Mitchell doing “Goodbye Blue Sky.” And then I found out that this was a live broadcast from Berlin. I hadn’t heard this concert was happening, and here I was listening to a concert in Berlin while it was happening from my car in Pennsylvania. My 5 minute drive across town lasted over an hour.

About 250,000 miles later, on January 10, 2011, I was leaving Pennsylvania and had just started picking up radio stations in upstate New York. It was 11 a.m., at the time of the national moment of silence for the Arizona murders. The most prominent victim, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was lying in a hospital, somehow alive after having been shot in the head. I had wondered what music stations would do for the moment of silence, and the station I was listening to chose to play “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. With the repeated lyrics “I would go through all this pain, Take a bullet straight through my brain, Yes, I would die for ya baby, But you won't do the same.”

It’s almost enough to make me get an iPod too.

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