I once thought I knew what was wrong with country radio and how to fix it. For some time now, I've been lamenting country radio's attitude toward its history, the complete lack of anything other than Hot and New on the air. I have frequently wondered why, with its rich history, there are no country oldies stations.
Then, I found out there are such things, only not on the radio. One night as I was flipping through the TV dial trying to see if the Playboy Channel was still stubbornly insisting on scrambling itself er, I mean, looking for the Learning Channel I stumbled upon a whole range of music stations not music video, just music. They had everything classical, big band, tejana, rap, rock and classic country!
I sat there listening to these great songs, and you know what? They were even better than I remembered. I heard Lynn Anderson's "Rose Garden," Eddy Raven's "Right Hand Man." I heard Vern (the voice) Gosdin, the wonderful Don Williams. I was in heaven. When they played the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Modern Day Romance," I was ready to throw away my remote; I had at last found "my" channel.
Then things started to change. They played Mel McDaniel's creepy denim-fetish song "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans on." Lord have mercy. Well, no problem, they can't all be winners. Besides, I need a dud every hour or so to give me time to get a sandwich or go to the bathroom.
But the very next song was Dolly Parton's "Yellow Roses," a song so sappy it could make any blooming botanist swear off horticulture forever.
And that wasn't the worst of it. Above the sounds of my own gagging and retching, I heard Billy "Crash" Craddock sing "Rub it in, rub it in," till I wanted to rub him out. Well, I reasoned, that's the worst song of all time. Things have got to get better. What I didn't realize was that my subconscious had mercifully blotted out the memory of this SPF-zero tune's (God help us) sequel. The TV station was not nearly as solicitous of my sanity. It wasn't long before there was Billy "Trainwreck" Craddock chastising his beach bunny: "Honey, I ain't your man; you got sand in your hand" in the misogynist mess, "You Rubbed It In All Wrong."
That was all I could take. I switched it off and understood why there were no country oldies radio stations. It's because a good percentage of those oldies reek on ice. If there were such a station it would require someone special to run it, someone who could sort through the chaff and get to the wheat. Someone who knows the difference between a golden oldie and cold and moldy. Someone who would make sure Billy "15-Car-Pileup" Craddock never made it anywhere near the airwaves.
Somebody like well, somebody like me.
Oh good, at least my hubris is back.
(And did anybody notice I used the words "Dolly Parton" and "horticulture" in the same sentence and yet managed to resist the temptation to borrow Dorothy Parker's joke about making her think?)