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Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Morning Tirade

We all know that there is something terribly wrong with radio DJs. And I hope most of us realize that roughly 73% of the music they play is utter tripe. (If you had a private giggle over the phrase "utter tripe" because you get the pun, give yourself a cookie--with milk, of course.)

However, last night I heard a DJ do something so mind-bogglingly stupid that I must share. If I keep it to myself, I'm afraid my cerebrum may implode. He was talking about the song he was about to play--U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name," one of the best songs ever recorded and the opening track from their heavenly 1987 Joshua Tree album. He played a segment of an interview with the band's lead guitarist and keyboardist, The Edge (so named, it seems, because of his face).

It was an interesting behind-the-scenes tidbit about Mr. Edge's intentionally simplistic guitar stylings and how it lent itself to the overall sound of U2's music in general and to "Streets" in particular. I'm so glad I was able to catch it while channel surfing on my long drive between Philadelphia and Akron, Ohio, because it gave me a new appreciation of a classic.

Now you're asking, if I enjoyed the interview so much, why am I complaining?

The DJ played the interview over the song's entire musical intro. It's bad enough when these guys talk over a great song's intro. But to run an interview about the music over the music so that the listener is then unable to properly appreciate the song or the newfound perspective on the song--that takes either an astounding amount of thoughtlessness (even for a disc jockey) or a disturbing amount of sinister glee (even for a disc jockey).

This has to be one of the biggest professional discrepancies on the planet: the people in charge of airing the music have neither the proper appreciation nor the proper respect for it.

On a related note, another station later played the long version of the Fugees' 1996 cover of Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly"--which is to say, the obnoxious version of an otherwise great hip-hop cover--followed by the radio edit of Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up the Sun," which, missing a full minute-and-a-half, robs it of much of its rhetorical context and makes it the most ludicrously truncated song this side of "Lightning Crashes."

But who really wants to spend a whole five minutes listening to a good song when you can hear 80% of it in four-fifths of the time? It gives your playlist more room for your Beyoncés and your T-Pains and your Katy Perrys, and without them we might have no idea what sub-par songwriting sounds like.