I don't get the enjoyment out of music I used to. Perhaps when you are an adult, you put away childish things.
Forget that, that's not it.
I used to make money at music. Like the cobbler's children that go shoeless, I don't have much interest in music when I'm not making it. Do pediatricians get home in the evening, open the door, kiss their wife and look at their children and think, "God, not another one of those!" Do veterinarians beat their dogs? I don't know.
I listen to sports talk radio. People who remember me as a musician are agog to learn that. It's not that I'm that interested in sports, exactly; my interest in it is more along the lines of a man visiting the zoo, while being very careful never to put his fingers in the cages. It's just profoundly amusing to hear a guy driving a cab call up and explain how he wouldn't run a 750-million-dollar franchise like that. He reminds the owners of the teams he follows -- who aren't listening -- and his fellow sports enthusiasts -- who are listening but aren't paying attention, because the opposite of talking for them is waiting -- and the hosts, who are eating cold pizza and reading the racing form with one eye on the clock and their thumb on the cough button, that if that owner doesn't know enough to trade all his bad players to the other team for all their good players, he's a dope.
You can listen to that, any time, all the time, if you want to. I remember when sports talk was on for 30 minutes on Sunday nights only. There was a time that the radio was a unifying force in America, as was the television. When I was lad, the television wasn't really a novelty (mechanical dishwashers were, though) and the radio was ubiquitous.
There was a sense of shared experience about what was on television, mostly because there wasn't much on it. What was on, was on at very regular and predictable intervals, and everybody saw the same things, more or less, if they saw anything. When Walter Kronkite said things, everybody heard them, and they discussed them the next day. When the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show in the winter of 1964, if you had a pulse and a teenager in your house, believe me, you saw them.
The radio was AM then, and kinda iffy. The signal would drift, and crackle, and get mingled with some rogue frequency for a moment with people barking in Portuguese or French, and then return to its fabulous tinny treble warble.
There really weren't very many stations, and what there were were very uniform from one to another, and they were marvelous. They were marvelous because they were everything. The shared experience of radio popularity meant you'd hear country, blues, rock, Motown, pop, broadway, big band, jazz, doo-wop, and just plain whatever -- whatever the A and R man had in his briefcase along with the bag of money for the disc jockey. You'd hear it all in a great big wonderful mess.
The shared experience is gone from this now, like so many other things, because our circumstances are a lot better than they used to be. We're all insanely lucky and wealthy and overrun with fistfuls of choices of every entertainment delicacy imaginable. There are some cable channels where the previously unimaginable is performed too, and they don't always scramble them any more. People only object if the animals get hurt.
Beware people that are nostalgic for times when we were all in the same boat -- solidarity brother! -- because everything was dreadful, and life was hard. It can be very convivial to wait in line for your coupons to get rationed food, but there's no law that says you can't be friends when times get better, too. I don't want to turn back the clock and listen to AM radio so we can all sing the lyrics to The Candy Man in unison because we were all forced to listen to it 14 times a day for four weeks whether we liked it or not. Pick your own poison.
But beware never venturing too far from your little sphere. You can construct a cocoon for yourself with minutely atomized choices in your entertainment, to the point where you've never heard anything other than Def Leppard covers of Styx songs, or something else as crabbily calibrated to keep you from hearing anything different. How would I know how much I'd enjoy hearing Roger Miller sing King of The Road again after all these years, if I didn't hear it sandwiched between The Dave Clark Five and Ray Charles when we listened to the car radio on the way home from the supermarket in 1965?
You can make your own shared experience now, and it's better. You can share it, easily, with people anywhere on the planet, instantly. I have many acquaintances, some I call my friends, who I've never met and never will. Technology killed the AM radio and Walter Kronkite newscasts, but it had a thousand children to take their place. It's all good.
Get out you iPod. I'm going to take you to 1966, with a list of Billboard Top Forty Hits. Get your hands on every one of these, don't skimp or say, "Hey, that's not Def Leppard." Listen to all of them, and you'll know what it was like to be an eight year old boy, drowsing with your cheek on the cool vinyl in the back seat of the car, as your father fiddles with the big chrome knobs on the Rambler Wagon radio like a submarine radio operator, trying to keep the signal.
Some of it's awful good. Some of it's godawful. It was all awfully good fun:
SSgt Barry Sadler- Ballad Of The Green Berets
Diana Ross And The Supremes- You Can't Hurry Love
Frank Sinatra- Strangers In The Night
The Young Rascals- Good Lovin'
The Four Tops- I'll Be There
The Monkees- Last Train To Clarksville
The Association- CherishThe Beatles- We Can Work It Out
The Byrds- Turn! Turn! Turn!
The Mamas And The Papas- Monday, Monday
Statler Brothers- Flowers On The Wall
The Righteous Brothers- Soul And Inspiration
Simon And Garfunkel- Sounds Of Silence
The Mamas And The Papas- California Dreamin'
The Lovin Spoonful- Summer In The CityHerb Alpert- Taste Of Honey
Roger Williams- Born Free (Okay, maybe you can skip this one)
Lou Christie- Lightin' Strikes Again
The Rolling Stones- Paint It Black
The Happenings- See You In September
The Cyrkle- Rubber Ball
Question Mark and the Mysterians- 96 Tears
Tommy James- Hanky Panky
Diana Ross And The Supremes- You Keep Me Hangin On
The Rolling Stones- 19Th Nervous Breakdown
Nancy Sinatra- These Boots Are Made For Walking
New Vaudeville Band- Winchester Cathedral
The Troggs- Wild Thing
The Mindbenders- A Groovy Kind Of A LoveSam The Sham and the Pharoahs- Li'l Red Riding HoodThe Left Banke- Walk Away Renee
The Beach Boys- Sloop John B
The Beatles- Nowhere Man
The Kinks- Well Respected Man
Bobby Hebb- SunnyPercy Sledge- When A Man Loves A Woman
The Four Seasons- Let's Hang On
The Beach Boys- Good Vibrations
Donovan- Sunshine Superman
The Beatles- Paperback Writer
Diana Ross And The Supremes- I Hear A Symphony