Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Keep the future -- Just let me go back to the past

As you know, as a big fan of ‘60s music, I often listen to It’s a deep dive into the ‘50s-‘70s not just Proud Mary and Pretty Woman played on an endless loop.

Rich Brother Robbin who hosts the site reports his listenership is way up during this pandemic. Which makes sense. He contends that research has shown a big reason listeners are attracted to the oldies format is because “it makes them happy.” Rich also sprinkles in classic radio jingles to spice up the sound that much more. And I think now more than ever people are seeking an escape to a happier, more innocent time when the music was fun, you could leave your home, and we had actual intelligent leaders.

For younger listeners who want the same experience but with fun cooking music from the ‘70s, ‘80’s, and ‘90s – there’s

And that yearning for comfort and reassurance extends beyond music. Here in Los Angeles, two ‘50s themed restaurants – Bob’s Big Boy and Mel’s Drive In on Sunset – have reinstated car hop service. You sit in your car, a waitress brings your food on trays you attach to your windows. And you eat in your car.   The menu is your standard comfort food – burgers, shakes, and entrees covered in gravy. The result: People are flocking to them.

Drive-In theatres are also making a comeback. And you know it’s not because they’re the best way to see a movie. They’re the worst. And you can see movies with far better picture quality and surround sound in your living room. Those clunky speakers you attach to your car window always sound like the muffled voice of the kid at McDonalds when you drive through.

But it’s a chance to get out of the house and relive a more pleasant experience from your past. (Still, bring protection)

So instead of listening to irresponsible press briefing that are costing Americans their lives, I’d much prefer to sing along with Lesley Gore, who expresses my feelings exactly about the longing for retro and the world today.  .

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.


Chris Karr said...

You may also want to give WKIT in Bangor, Maine a spin as well.

Seems to be one of the few music stations with human DJs, and is bankrolled by classic rock and roll fan, Stephen King.

Mike Barer said...

I love listening to Phlash Phelps on Sirius/XM, 60s at 6. Sometimes the songs stay in my head the whole day.

WB Jax said...

Never understood why people still want to hear, say, Beatles classics on the radio when they not only have the songs on CD (and their Smart phones) but, too, likely own Special Editions of the songs (including boxsets of mono and stereo mixes/remixes) and, if they grew up in the "Beatlemania era," the music on LP/ 45 rpm, all within easy reach to "spin" (well, maybe not the original albums/records). But your post makes a good case for why oldies radio flourishes: it transports people to a time when they were first discovering this music (so, yes, a happier time, or so the passage of years has us believe), either via their home phonographs or transistor radios. The same goes for me and Me-TV, Decades and Antenna, even though many of the shows broadcast on these nostalgia channels I either have on DVD or could attain with a few clicks on amazon (and many of these collections at bargain prices).

bossbossjohn said...

And don't forget playing the greatest Boss Hits of All Time!

Unkystan said...

Hi Ken. Hope all is well.
I was curious about something. Because of the pandemic, shows still in production shut down early with shortened seasons. One show, Grey’s Anatomy, had it’s shortened series finale only two weeks after the shutdown. It seems to me that their shooting schedule is awfully close to air date. Is this normal? What kind of deadlines did you have on your shows?

Dave H said...

During this time I have been watching a lot of tv and movies from the past. It makes me forget about the virus and Trump. I have even been binge watching The Partridge There is actually some good music on that show. It is comforting. And I love the openings to the shows back then. All of them memorable and catchy. Even on the bad shows.

I have also been watching movies set in the past. I have been watching Once Upon A Time A Time In Hollywood multiple times. That movie gets better and better with repeated viewings. You feel like you have gone back in time. It's calming to just watch Brad Pitt drive around Hollywood. Tarantino 's attention to detail is insane . I love listening to the 60's radio playing with Robert W Morgan from scene to scene. Dazed and Confused and Almost Famous are other great movies to escape in. They all have great soundtracks too.

I have been to listening to the Elvis channel on Sirius radio. Anything from the past that that is happy and virus free with no sign of Trump's face anywhere is where I want to be right now.

PolyWogg said...

I find the "research" about nostalgia misguided as it is more simply topical and anecdotal. Far more detailed research has been done long before the pandemic to talk about periods of change in general and how there are often two areas that "grow":

a. Rose-coloured views of the past

b. Embracing religion

The reasons are the same for both -- the past is "locked-in" and religion is meant to be steadfast. So regardless of what maelstrom you have around you, those two things cannot be affected by current changes. Much of it seems to be about looking for stability in a world of uncertainty. Many find that comforting.

But it is also a lot of white suburban families that embrace that the most. Mainly because it was "light and carefree" because they weren't adults then. The adults were worried about getting drafted, losing kids, racial tensions, drugs, STDs, mortgages, job security, the economic trials of the 70s, politicians being assassinated, the rise of cults. People remember the good times, not the bad times, and even when they do, the "trauma" of the bad is diminished. There was an interview that went viral at one point, talking about the summer of love, and they interviewed a bunch of random people. They came to this guy who had been fighting overseas who was like, "Are you f***ing kidding me? You want to go back to that year? That was the worst hell of my life."

I like the music, I can do without the fake "oh the 50s and 60s were great".


gottacook said...

WB Jax: There's a big difference between deciding to play an old favorite from one's own collection and hearing it unexpectedly on the radio (or internet radio). When I have Richbro on while working and Dionne Warwick's "Are You There with Another Girl" comes on, or Petula Clark's "Who Am I," etc., it's a wonderful moment for me - which is why I persevere through their too-frequent playing of Neil Sedaka tunes.

The last time I went to a drive-in movie, around 1990, I had a car with a front bench seat (which tilted as a whole unit via powered controls). I can't imagine the experience would be the same with a console between the seats.

Jeff Weimer said...

Regarding drive-ins, one of the better innovations in the last 30 years is broadcasting the audio track over a low-powered FM signal.

Stereo and everything, no window box necessary.

Dave-El said...

"You're listening to WBOS-FM, BIG BOSS RADIO playing the only HITS the BIG BOSS will let me play!!"

I used to work for an adult contemporary station back in the 80's (overnights!) and good God did we play so much Lionel Ritchie. "That was Hello by Lionel Ritchie on MAGIC. It's 2:47 AM, 13 minutes away from the top of the hour and it's 37 degrees right now. Let's say we pick up the pace a bit here on MAGIC with Dancing on the Ceiling by Lionel Ritchie." Occasionally someone would call in and we would take turns talking each other out of killing ourselves.

Rockgolf said...

Drive-In theatres are also making a comeback. And you know it’s not because they’re the best way to see a movie. They’re the worst. And you can see movies with far better picture quality and surround sound in your living room. Those clunky speakers you attach to your car window always sound like the muffled voice of the kid at McDonalds when you drive through.

Is that still a thing at drive-ins somewhere? I haven't been to one since the first Expendables movie came out, but IIRC, theaters now use low-power radio transmissions you can pick up with your car radio. Far better sound, and no one drives home with the speaker still attached to the door.

Without writing an episode, how do you think the character of Cheers & Frasier would handle quarantine if it happened during their runs?

Brian said...

I've been doing the same thing over at for the past fourteen years. My upcoming show will feature Stevie Wonder's song that he co-wrote for the Supremes.

Michael said...

Re: The criticism of drive-ins as not the best way to see a movie.

Why would you go there to watch the movie?

WB Jax said...

And don't most of you here find that things you didn't care for/like "way back when" haven't gotten any better over time? Was watching "Welcome Back Kotter" recently and realized I still didn't think it funny, save the occasional 'Julie...have I ever told you about my Uncle...' jokes, which, in the early seasons, bookended episodes. On the other hand, "All in the Family," a show I didn't "get" in my pre-teen years, I find, more often than not, laugh out loud funny (and in which I can appreciate the acting brilliance of Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton).

WB Jax said...

gottacook...I do it as well, that is, "crank up the volume" when an old Beatles song comes on the oldies station (except for "Hey Jude," which I turn off after the first 'na-na-na-na'). I guess my point is that my collections of such songs can sit idle FOR YEARS before I put on one of those CDs (except for the Beatles Anthology, which I "get out" a couple times a year, especially Volume 1) and, yet, when these same songs come on the radio, it's as if it's the only way I can experience them. It's strange.

Ted. said...

I don't know if you've mentioned this, but "Little Steven's Underground Garage" (classic garage rock curated by E Street Band member / "Sopranos" star Steven Van Zandt) can be streamed online, or heard live on various broadcast and satellite radio stations.

Jeff Boice said...

I love the music of the mid to late 60's- that's what I grew up listening to. I also like the new wave sounds of the late 70's- early 80's because I detected a kinship to the mid-late 60's sound.

I like to watch some of the old TV shows from that era- partly because they're comfort food, partly to be amazed at how they got the quality they did churning episodes out once a week for 30+ weeks a season. I also get a kick out of seeing them reuse the same sets in different shows. There is of course the Star Trek City of the Edge of Forever episode where Kirk and Spock walk past Floyd's Barber Shop. And there's a Wild Wild West episode where Jim and Artie travel undercover to Devil's Island. Devil's Island bears a strong resemblance to Gilligan's Island (both WWW and Gilligan were filmed at Studio City)- right down to the quicksand.

None of us thought of those days as happy and innocent. There was that page in the phone book telling us what we needed to do in event of nuclear attack, and we were warned about the likelihood of mass starvation caused by overpopulation, riots in the cities, etc.

Fed by the muse said...

10/10 Recommendation, Entertainment For These Uncertain Times (Decades, AM/PM ET zone):


10-11: The Lucy Show - currently, middle of S2 (IMO, one of the better seasons of the series), final Lucy shows * by original "I Love Lucy" writers Madelyn Martin (Davis) and Bob Carroll, Jr (though Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf would write many of the classic S3 shows).

* - not including "Here's Lucy"


10-11: The Dick Van Dyke Show - early S4 shows, including some great eps written by Belson and Marshall.

Good laughs. Enjoy

Unknown said...

WB Jax brings up a interesting thing about generations. Current generation is fine with scrolling through lists of music/movies/tv shows to get what you want. I'm of the mind of entertain me, I turn on a channel and listen/watch, and during commercials or bad song, change stations.
Guess I am getting old, the only control I want is using the clicker to go up/down channels, TV or radio. It gives me variety. Don't always need to binge watch a show, or listen to all my Beatle records at once, happy when a 'deep cut' comes on.
Another good station to listen to in Chicago, and also streaming, is MeTV FM. You can hear the MASH theme (With Jamie Farr introducing it), MTM theme, and during the month of May, Dr. Demento style songs thrown into the mix.
Variety, because I'm not a robot

Tom Galloway said...

My small (6,000 people) and relatively isolated (nearest small "city" 40 miles away) hometown has a renowned Music Center. It's cancelled its summer program and camp, but is turning its parking lot into a drive-in movie theater for a 8 movie series. It was written they were using FM nearcasting for the sound. Sponsored by a local grocery, and the local movie theater (a single screen one) is giving every car a free bag of popcorn.

McAlvie said...

Well, good things are still good things. Our tastes do change, and its quite natural for one generation to not understand what another generation saw in something, be it music, movies or whatever. But then our own tastes change as we age, something we don't understand until we experience it. But there is a reason that classics are, well, classic.

Music from the 60s wasn't all that innocent, really. The 60s were an awakening time, and many songs were written as statements and protests. But, we had artists who could actually carry a tune, and writers who cut their teeth on the old standards and thus understood what that 'something' is that good music has in common, and even as they forged their own path.

I've always considered myself fortunate to have spent my formative years in the 60s and 70s, because the best of the 40s and 50s were still being played, as well. Four decades of music that went through tremendous change and yet stood the test of time. I miss the classic radio experience of my youth, but aren't we fortunate that we have streaming now? I even find the occasional contemporary gem.

On the subject of retro nostalgia. Back when drive ins, both movies and restaurants, first sprang up, Americans were so in love with our cars that we never wanted to leave them! So development did away with sidewalks, places in the 'burbs got further apart, and good grief the commutes! Gradually having to spend time in your car became less thrilling because you were there all too often. But now we have come full circle, looking for excuses to get in the car and go somewhere, yearning for a different view while keeping our personal space safe. And we want new experiences that also feel safe, so reaching to the past is very logical. And just think that another generation is now having those experiences and thus will have those nostalgic memories. And like our memories of the 60s, it will seem innocent in retrospect. They will remember the family time and the new experiences, but less so the scary stuff. The edges always get smoothed over.

Anonymous said...

@Dave H
Re: Partirdge Family music

No surprise that it is surprisingly good. The songwriters and arrangers were excellent, the background musicians were The Wrecking Crew, the best in the business, David Cassidy had a better than average voice, and Shirley Jones was, well a Broadway musical legend. They were the only two of the Family who actually sang on the records.

Put that all together and you're going to get some good music.

Anonymous said...


Currently watching "Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind" on HBO. I hope to hear your thoughts when you've had a chance to see it!

- Matt in RI

Liggie said...

Flip Wilson had a joke, something like, "When I was a teenager I worked at a drive-in theater. My job was to knock on people's windows and tell them the movie was over. I got $5 an hour and all I could see."

VP81955 said...

Ken, did you saw the coronavirus episode of "All Rise" Monday? I don't follow the show but felt obliged to watch it for innovation's sake. I thought it pretty good, although I understand its ratings were at a two-month low. (CBS nevertheless renewed the series for a second season today.)

Mibbitmaker said...

Speaking of DJs who play deeper cuts, my favorite from our area is "Big Tuna" Jim Kaye (DJ name). He was on a top 40 FM station during automation from 1973-76, and when it went live in 1977-81 when the station went album rock (now classic rock), doing the same elsewhere until he got to rake over the oldies show on the same rock station in 1984, the Gold Rush. As on oldies jock, he played songs we listeners had forgotten about, the hits and the flops as he says these days. He has a ginormous collection of 45s, LPs and CDs (I've seen it. It's impressive).

The show went from 1984-1995 on two stations, and he has had it online for a while now. It's currently on Sunday nights from 8PM (eastern) on his own channel: https://vaughnlive/bigtuna until 10 when he switches to https://vaughnlive/totally_70s after the 6-10PM DJ (a friend) is through. It's a great set-up for the DJs there, where you can see them play the music as well as listen and make requests from the chat room. These guys were broadcasting visibly from their homes before COVID-19 forced most people on TV to do that.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Agree. "I'll Meet You Halfway" is such a nice song of theirs.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Sorry, but I never got Lionel Richie's appeal, and I found his success in the eighties dispiriting.

So many knocked Barry Manilow's music, but I'll take Manilow any day over Richie, a paint-by-the-numbers lyricist if ever there was one.

Pat Reeder said...

I recommend an online radio station started by a record collector friend of mine, Radio Dismuke.

It's pre-swing jazz and pop music from the 1920s to the mid-'30s. The only station where you'll routinely hear Helen Kane, Cab Calloway, Ruth Etting, Bix Beiderbecke, Fats Waller, Bing Crosby, Annette Hanshaw and the Comedian Harmonists. It's for those of us who, when we long for the "good old days," are talking about the Roaring Twenties.

Cheryl Marks said...

Ah, the big clunky speaker hanging off the back window.

Fond memory- Mom treating us to an evening at the drive-in. When it ended, Mom drove off with the speaker still hanging from the car window. She brought it to the guy at the snack bar and offered to pay for the damage. Once he recovered from the shock that someone actually came in with the forlorn looking speaker, he said not to worry about it. It happened all the time!

DrBOP said...

I have noticed various articles about drive-in Sunday services, drive-in funerals and "Take-out" night at the drive-in over the past month. How about drive-in theatre at the drive-in?
Elevate/innovate a heightened stage. Mike all the performers into the drive-in's sound system, or into a simple left/right speaker set-up. Add some basic lighting, and have a play performance vehicle.....and just think about the fantastic backdrops you could have projected on the drive-in screen.
It wouldn't necessarily have to be all-Busby Berklieish (new word! ;>)....the moods you could set for small-scale performances could be endlessly inventive.
And hey, rain or shine performances would add an extra layer of excitement to the outing ;>)

Troy McClure said...

Ken, will you be reviewing the new HBO documentary "Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind"?

Buttermilk Sky said...

Nostalgia is a trap. Just the other day Trump was complaining about those "angry" female reporters and comparing them unfavorably to the character played by Donna Reed in the 1950s-1960s. As this article shows, Reed herself was more like Nicolle Wallace and April Ryan than the stay-at-home suburban mom she portrayed:

mike schlesinger said...

I'd happily go to a drive-in just for some sort of theatrical experience, but alas, the closest one to me is the Mission Tiki in Montclair, and even in zero traffic, it's over an hour away from my home. I could watch another movie in the two hours I'd spend behind the wheel.

Anonymous said...

Went to Bob's last Saturday with my girlfriend. I was in Burbank 2 years ago with a group of friends and we were looking for a "what to do next" after spending the day together and I said, "Carhop service!", only to learn they had discontinued it several years ago.

I was crushed. I had always wanted to go, but never did. Serves me right, as I've lived in LA for over 20 years and just never found the time.

So I was so excited to go last Saturday. A security guard in the lot directed me to where to park. And we sat there for literally forty minutes and we saw only the most fleeting glimpse of a server who was nowhere near our car (or any of the others parked near us.)

I know it's a horrible time and people are stressed and frontline workers like servers are putting their lives at risk for pennies, but it was weird. But I shouldn't bitch about somethig so trivial at a time like this.

Far more frustrating was that, on the way out, we noticed a bunch of classic car aficionados parked in the usual "classic car" spot. These are classic car owners - aka THE ELDERLY - and they were out chatting in a large cluster with each other with zero social distance and zero PPE. Um, what the hell, guys?

Had a much better time at the Mission Tiki drive-in the week before.

-Peter G

DrBOP said...

Ruh-roe, looks like the Great Drumpf hisself might read your blog...

Something about "Hot dogs available at food counter while watching hot dogs on stage"...errr somethin'. ;>)

Bob K said...

Hey Ken. Just wanted to say thanks for turning me on to RichBro Radio. So much music I’ve never heard before. And when my wife asks me why I’m listening to it? I tell her, “Because it makes me happy.”