I’m giving serious thought to the possibility of litigation over Eric Alterman’s list of The Top 20 World’s Worst Songs, because of the nightmares it’s going to give me.
I mean — dude, it’s been decades now since I even thought about “The Night Chicago Died” or “Wildfire,” and you had to go and remind me about them? What possible good could have been served by springing “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” from the lead-lined, triple-locked, concrete-jacketed, impenetrable bunker I shoved it into in the sub-basement of my subconscious ages ago? Geeeeeezzz, it takes me back to the days when the sound of that fife-and-drum intro dribbling from a nearby transistor radio meant there were only two options for preserving sanity: (a) wrap one’s head in a couple of blankets and wait for the song to pass, or (b) smash the radio before the song could get going.
Nothing makes me cherish my iPod and Internet radio more than the memory of the era when AM radio was ruled by music stations with playlists so tight you could set your watch to them. (” ‘Afternoon Delight’ is on? Damn, I’m five minutes late for work!”) Future generations of music scholars, reading the works of Seventies music critics like Lester Bangs, will wonder at the intemperate tone of a piece like “James Taylor Marked for Death,” and have to imagine for themselves the way pique could be goaded into anger by the knowledge that in a world brimming over with new and interesting music, you were going to be flogged with “Sometimes When We Touch” for the umpteenth time by whatever radio station was playing.
I’m my own radio station now, and so are you and everyone else, and boy is it an improvement. Now the only time I have to think about “Baby I’m A Want You” is when somebody like Eric Alterman reminds me. Time to look in the Rolodex for my lawyer’s number. This mental trespass will not stand.