As I was returning home from a long and most enjoyable vacation today, I commenced the battle of finding something on the radio. I wrote about this once before, and it makes me appreciate the concept of satellite radio. You pick a station you like, and never have to worry about whether it comes in or not. I would never pay for this service, but I can at least understand it now.
I was thinking about the upcoming 4th of July holiday, and how it will chop up my first week back in the office into two smaller chunks. Or, as I heard someone put it, two Mondays and two Fridays, with a holiday wedged in between. I suppose that can be called a soft landing.
I was turning the radio dial when I heard the opening strains of “Stray Cat Strut.” I sang along a little bit, and thought about how the Stray Cats were an American band, from Long Island. I thus decided to try an experiment: I would listen to the next few songs and see which were from American artists. The songs that followed were: “Babe” by Styx (from Chicago), “The Long Run” by the Eagles (from California), “Hold on Loosely” by 38 Special (from Florida), and “Do Ya Know What I Mean” by Lee Michaels (from Los Angeles). That was five songs in a row, all by American artists.
The radio station, 93.5 FM in Toledo, apparently wasn’t doing anything intentional with American Artists, though, because the next song they played was U2′s “With or Without You.” U2′s an Irish band, from Dublin city (that’s how they introduced themselves at Live Aid, anyway). As I continued listening, I heard songs by Cyndi Lauper (from Queens, New York), Chicago, and War (from California). I started to think of other American artists that I didn’t hear played, from Bruce Springsteen to Van Halen to Aerosmith to Jimmy Buffett (who admittedly doesn’t get very much airplay, other than “Margaritaville” but has had a very long and distinguished career, just the same). The experiment ended when the station’s signal began breaking up, during Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care Of Business” (and they’re a Canadian band, so it could have ended in a more American fashion, but the point had already been made.)
It’s no big shock that an American radio station plays more songs by American artists than anyone else. But it’s a reminder that America always has, at least since the invention of recorded music (which was done by an American, I might point out), been the driving force in the music industry. It’s easy to take this type of cultural heritage for granted sometimes, since I’m immersed in it, all day long. But a long drive through Ohio can sometimes be more significant than it may otherwise appear.