Friday, November 27, 2009

On the Radio

From The Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan Lethem's 2003 coming-of-age novel, a brilliant side note about how oldies stations change one's perception of the music of the past:

San Francisco had a Jammin' Oldies station too. All cities did, a tidal turning of my generation's readiness to sentimentalize the chart toppers of its youth. Old divisions had been blurred in favor of the admission that disco hadn't sucked so bad as all that, even the pretense that we'd adored it all along. The Kool & the Gang and Gap Band dance hits we'd struggled against as teens, trying to deny their pulse in our bodies, were now staples of weddings and lunch hours in all the land; the O'Jays and Manhattans and Barry White ballads we'd loathed were now, with well-mixed martinis or a good zinfandel, foundation elements in any reasonably competent seduction. From the evidence of the radio I might have come of age in a race-blind utopia. That on the other end of the dial hip-hop stations thumped away in dire quarantine, a sort of pre-incarceration, no matter.

No comments: