September 2001   

Living on Borrowed Culture

Thing's ain't what they used to be — are they?


In one recent week, I could have seen the following shows within 10 miles of my home:

Not long ago, I walked into one of the funkiest little record stores in one of the hippest areas of Boston. You can't even get through the door of this shop unless you have at least five pieces of metal in your face (I passed because I'm old), and coming out of the speakers, I heard the Blues Project's 1966 “Flute Thing.”

The latest Arbitron book shows that in my metropolitan broadcast market, three of the Top 10 radio stations are oldies or “classic hits,” stations that differentiate themselves from each other by only the finest of hairs: One won't play anything recorded after 1972, another won't play anything post-1979, and the other won't play anything from before 1966. On a local public station, the most popular new show is called “Highway 61 Revisited,” which features obscure and not-so-obscure folk-rock from the psychedelic era. The announcer barely has time to talk between all the phone requests.

What's going on here?

The rest of this column, along with 56 more, is now available in The Insider Audio Bathroom Reader, published by Thomson Course Technology PTR.

Copyright ©2006 by Paul D. Lehrman