Sunday, May 6, 2012

"Her Life Was Saved by Rock 'n' Roll"

Badger bought us an excellent gift, a tabletop radio!  We listen to a lot of radio, and, unlike our cheap transistors, this radio actually gets a bunch of stations without static.  We mostly listen to NPR and pop country, but with the new radio we can actually get more stations.  I know that we can get almost any radio station on the internet, but for me internet radio kind of ruins the experience of dialing through the stations.

I love the simultaneity of radio.  I've spent a lot of time alone in my life and I've felt comforted by the idea that there are other people out there listening to the exact same thing at the same moment.  As a kid living in rural New England in the 1970s, I listened to the pre-Craigslist swap shows on AM radio every weekend.  A soundtrack of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," "Love's Been a Little Bit Hard on Me," and "Wildfire" segued into "When Doves Cry," and "I Wear My Sunglasses at Night."  As a young girl in the 1980s, I remember hearing an NPR radio report on a mysterious cancer cluster among gay men in California and feeling terrified, although there was no reason that an event so distant from my own life should cause fear.  On college radio in the 1990s, I heard Hole's "Pretty on the Inside," and it blew my mind by expressing exactly the kind of pissed off, mostly apolitical, hard partying, dirty, feminism that was roiling around in my life at the time.

During Ladybug's NICU stay, radio saved me.  Thankfully, our NICU wasn't the fancy kind of place that pipes in soft classical music.  I would have lost my damn mind if I had been forced to listen to classical music for two and half months.  Instead, we got a huge Panasonic radio from the 1970s that had been dug up from somewhere.  The nurse on duty got to choose the station and we heard a mix of country, pop, classic rock, r&b, and christian r&b.  There was something comforting and discordant, and funny about holding a tiny baby, staring at the city's night skyline, and listening to the latest pop hits from Katie Perry, Pink, and Cee Lo Green. Because of that time, "Firecracker" will always be Ladybug's special song, and for at least a while "Fuck You" was our song to the world.

Hopefully radio will never die, and maybe something I hear on this new radio will finally drive away my current "Luckenbach, Texas" earworm.

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