Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Safeway and the Rise of Classic Rock Radio

I was in Safeway last night on a quick run to get some cold meds for my wife. Which one has the most meds? Theraflu? Nyquil? What's the dosage? How much is this? Hey what is that song playing over the Safeway speakers? I recognize that. Seems out of place...

It was Secret Touch from Rush's Vapor Trails album. WTF?

That is probably one of the noisiest, most angry songs Rush ever released and here it is blaring away in Safeway while I shop for cold meds. Awesome.

It reminded me of another time in Safeway - this time in San Francisco in the early 90s, when I had just graduated from college and had moved to the City to make music for a living (that lasted about 5 years and more than 1,000 gigs across the country).

I was doing my low budget musician diet shopping (bread/peanut butter/jelly) and noted that The Doors were playing on the PA - not one of their poppier tunes either. It was Riders on the Storm.

"There's a killer on the road. His brain is squirming like a toad -- PRICE CHECK ON AISLE SIX -- If you give this man a ride sweet family will die..." Yeah, baby.

This was around the time when I noticed that radio was turning more to a 'classic rock' format, playing all the stuff from the 60s and 70s that I loved but never heard outside of my room or car cassette player. Maybe classic rock was around earlier, but I remember taking special note right around the late 80s/early 90s and totally digging it.

Having heard the same songs they play on classic rock radio for the next 20 years has soured me a bit on it and made me take the (now very stale) format for granted, but back in the 80s, radio sucked as hard as the crappy 80s music pouring out of it. Classic rock radio was a nice breath of fresh air at the time. Made me feel like my people were finally in charge.

Gotta go to Costco today. Maybe I'll hear some Dio-era Sabbath. Well, one can dream...

4 comments:

Don Capone said...

I heard Sammy Hagar's I Can't Drive 55 in the supermarket the other morning.

So I sign my name on number 24 Hey
And the judge said Boy Just one more Huh
I'm gonna throw your ass in the city joint
Looked me in the eye Said You get my point I say yeah

VoxMoose said...

Great story. I wonder if Safeway etc. has always been playing hip "middle of the road" music targeted at their middle-age demographic. People outside our taste probably view Rush, the Doors, or Sammy Hagar to be as stale to them as Tony Orlando and Dawn or Musak is to us.

It was probably just as amusing for someone who grew up in the late 50s to walk into a place like Safeway in the 70s and hear Frank Sinatra on the speakers, Frank being a a sex symbol of wanton Vegas and Hollywood excesses...

Chris said...

I was at this place in town that is kind of a farm supply place last weekend, walking around out in the yard looking at barrels and tanks and exciting stuff like that. The yard guys had a radio on, and "Holy Diver" was playing, but it didn't sound quite right. As I got closer, it was clearly a remake, and when they went to the modern, "aggro metal" vocal shoutings for the bridge, I nearly blew a gasket. It was awful.

Dr. John said...

You know what this all means, don't you? We are getting old. All of us. And we are half done with our lives. Sigh....