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Holding It All Together- Turn The Radio On

By Amy McCollom
I know a lot of things have changed since I was a kid, especially music.   When I was 15 years old, I didn’t dare reach for the radio knob in the car and try to switch the station that my parents had on.  I just knew that wasn’t going to end well.  My parents didn’t care if I didn’t like the music they played.  They figured when I got a job and bought my own car, I could listen to whatever radio station I wanted then; but this was their car.  Their radio, their music.  It was just how it was.  

We also had one of those big casket-sized cabinet stereo systems in our living room that only my mom was allowed to operate.  It played records, 8-track tapes, and the radio all in Hi-Fi.  We always had to be careful not to jump when she had a record playing because, God forbid, if one of Mom’s records got scratched from foolish rough-housing, there would be hell to pay.  There was always music playing either in the house or in the car.  Some songs were so bad they made me cringe, and other songs were kinda alright.  Enduring things you do not like builds character, they say.

Even though I didn’t always like the music, I grew up listening to most of the old country music greats like:  Charley Pride, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, Don Williams, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Johnny Paycheck, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Buck Owens, Glen Campbell, John Denver, Ronnie Milsap, Charlie Rich, Tom T. Hall, Reba McIntire, Alabama, Barbara Mandrell, Kenny Rogers, The Judds, Roy Clark, Ricky Skaggs, T.G. Sheppard, Randy Travis, and Mel Tillis.  Old school country.  Some of those songs got down in my soul and took root.  And some songs I still make fun of to this day.  It’s a love/hate thing.

When I got older, and got my own stereo, I started listening to all kinds of music.  I like a little bit of everything, but lately I keep my car radio tuned in to Christian stations more than any others.

Well, Saturday I took a little trip over to Arthur to the Eberhardt Assisted Living Home to take my mom some things she had requested, and my teenage-daughter, Rosa, went with me.  I noticed that every time I turned the radio up, Rosa would put her earbuds in and tune out of our live conversation.  So I asked her why she did that.  She said, “I don’t like your music.”

I told her to find something on the radio that she liked and she hesitated, then said, “The radio doesn’t play the kind of music that I like.”

It’s the radio.  They play every kind of music….don’t they?  I asked her what kind of music that she liked that they do not play on the radio and she said, “alternative jazz, or dark cabaret.”  Hmm.  Not a clue what those are, but I finally convinced her to flip through the stations to see if anything caught her fancy.

She paused about a half of a second on each station and said, “eww.”  I made her slow down and actually listen to more than one syllable before she decided that she didn’t like a song.  She didn’t like the oldie stations.  

“Wait!  “That was Foreigner!” I said.

“Well, they can go back to where they came from.  I am not listening to that.”  she said spitefully.

She didn’t want to hear pop or classical, or even modern country.  She flipped to one station and was greeted with “Digging up bones!”  She made a face and said “Ewwwwww…just No!”

Yea, that was never one of my favorites either.  One thing I noticed pretty quickly was that the country stations all stood out because they all sounded just about the same.  Most of the songs were about a feller with a truck partying with a pretty girl in a field on Saturday night, or something to that effect.  And a fake southern drawl that was practiced and paid for was thick as hair gel.  Nothing original, nothing real.  Fake country for fake country fans.  I felt a little bit insulted.  Every time I heard a different country station, it was the same scenario, only a different singer crooning to the same fast beat.  Fake country anthem about simple sexy lifestyle, written in 2/4 time and practically sung to a metronome.  Gah.  That ain’t country.

Shoot, those country singers were probably born after the year 2000.  Ain’t nobody that young got any country in them.  If you grew up with computers and a cell phone in your house, then I’m more country than you are.  

Growing up I lived that simple life they sing about.  I had to make my popcorn in a pan on the stove, thank you very much. I drank lemonade on the front porch, swinging with my sweetheart until the stars came out.  I rode in the back of a Ford pickup truck with a hound dog named Jake, and fished in the creek by the light of a full moon. 

I’ve ridden a cow, worked summers walking beans, detasseled corn, and caught toads in a creek.  I’ve been to a country road party, went mushroom hunting, wore cut-off jean shorts, pumped buckets of water from a well, sat by a wood-fired heating stove, shucked corn, snapped beans, and been strawberry picking in the early morning to beat the heat of the day.  I’ve eaten mountain oysters, fried turtle, Wabash River catfish, corn on the grill, and fried squirrel with gravy.  Now all of you country singers out there, if you feel you are just as country as I am, then ok, I will back off.  But I don’t buy your generic cookie-cutter country fakery.  I’m not impressed and I won’t be buying your concert tickets or t-shirts.

My daughter concentrated on that radio knob the whole way to Arthur and the whole way home.  Never did find a station she liked.  I guess she proved her point.  Her kind of music just couldn’t be found on the radio.  Maybe next trip I will just humm.

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