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The golden age of radio, maybe

Country Musings by Robert Loy, January 2000

"Lately even dreaming seems like old reality" - Rosanne Cash

What do you like to do besides listen to country music? I mean you have other hobbies too, right?

Whatever it is you're into I'll bet it has what aficionados call a "golden age" that time in the past when the general level of quality was much, much higher than it is nowadays. I collect comic books and postcards. The golden age of comics was the late '30's and early '40's, while postcards enjoyed their G.A. in the 1910's and 20's. CST editor Jeff Remz collects political memorabilia. I don't know when the golden age of political memorabilia was, but I'll bet you there was one.

Because everything had a golden age. And I mean everything. Radio drama, western movies, rock and roll, electric trains. Even porno patrons have what they consider to be a golden age - the pre-silicone '70's.

So when was the golden age of country music? To me, it has to be the late '60's, early '70's. Today, the only time you hear Haggard or Jones on the radio, some young drugstore cowboy with maybe a tenth of their talent is invoking their names. But back then, Merle Haggard and George Jones were all over the radio. Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Charlie Pride, Tammy Wynette were all doing some of their best work, and when people like this are doing their best work, it's damn fine work. Solid golden, in fact.

Even the lesser lights of that era Bobby Bare, Tom T. Hall, Lynn Anderson seem to outshine any of today's megastars.

But I gotta tell you, there's another theory that states the golden age for anything and everything - is 12. Meaning that the year before one tumbles into teenagerhood whatever your interested in has a wonderful unrecaptureable glow about it. We don't so much live in a golden age as carry it around with us when we are that golden age. In other words, in 2029 some 42-year-old coot will be reminiscing about how great things were back in 1999 when he was 12, the golden age of Neal McCoy and Shania Twain.

I don't completely buy into this theory. But the truth-in-column-writing law requires me to disclose that I was 12 years old in 1970. Does that color my perception? Was the music really better then or was I just easier to elate? Can I ever be objective about it?

I don't know. What do you think?