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Car radio

Topics/tags: Miscellaneous, music

When I take long drives, I tend to listen to the radio. What I listen to varies. Often, I listen to NPR. Sometimes, I just roam the dial, searching for something of interest. This weekend, I drove to Chicago and back. On the way there, I was able to listen to much of Maria Yovanovitch’s testimony [1]. On the way home, I listened to various NPR programs until I hit the DeKalb Oasis, when I lost WBEZ. At that point, I started scanning the dial. I was surprised at the number of religious stations I heard, as well as the number of Spanish-language stations.

Strangely enough, one of the Spanish-language stations played a short bit of Edge of Seventeen. I was hoping that they’d continue with a Spanish-language version. No such luck. However, about thirty minutes later, I caught the tail end on an oldies station. I thought it might be a cover because it seemed a bit harder than I remembered. But, well, it was an oldies station. They are unlikely to play covers.

Then I hit the jackpot. I heard a song that sounded like Phil Ochs. So I started listening to what turned out to be WVIK. Next up was another union song, Joe Jencks singing Si Kahn’s You are the U in Union Then an a cappella union song, Jon Fromer’s We Do the Work. I thought I was going to get lots of union songs, but they quickly switched to a cover of Son House’s walking blues and a wide variety of other songs, often three or four songs on a similar topic. I discovered when I got home that they were playing an episode of The Midnight Special from WFMT [2]. After that, they transitioned to an episode of Celtic Connections on the music of the Civil War [3].

In another bit of coincidence, that show opened with The Battle Cry of Freedom. My brain kept telling me that I knew a union song with the same tune. I had been saying to myself that my mother would have been able to identify the song [4]. However, when I got home, I was able to figure out that it was Billy Bragg’s There is Power in a Union [5]. I don’t think mom would have known that one.

In any case, I was quite grateful for ninety minutes of music I enjoyed [6]. I hope I’m as lucky next time I drive alone [7].

Postscript: The highlight of an earlier trip was an episode of This American Life with a segment by Sarah Vowell on the origins of The Battle Hymn of the Republic with music by Jon Langford. I need to remember to play a part of that piece for my family.

[1] IPR was playing it, so I could hear it through Iowa and into Western Illinois. The NPR stations I hit next were playing some other show, rather than the testimony. When I got closer to Chicagoland, I was able to return to the testimony on WBEZ.

[2] In discovering that, I also learned that the show has an interesting policy about posting their playlists.

Upon closer reading of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), our attorneys requested that we not post a playlist for a Midnight Special current streaming. Thus, as each program finishes its week of archive streaming, the playlist for that program will be posted. We apologize for the inconvenience. Because we own the rights to our Folkstage concerts, we will continue to post those the day after the broadcast.

I wonder if the attorneys worry that someone armed with a playlist could then get a copy of the songs in the episode.

[3] As I searched for info about Celtic Connections, I was sad to discover that Bryan Kelso Crow, the host of the show, recently passed away.

[4] There are a bunch of union songs that were written to the tunes of popular songs. Certainly, that was one of Woody Guthrie’s techniques. For example, Wikipedia tells me that Union Maid, which is one of my favorite songs, is to the tune of Kerry Mills’ Red Wing, which is itself adapted from a Schumann composition.

[5] No, not the Joe Hill song. In the continuing world of coincidences, I’d read a poem earlier in the day entitled I dreamed I saw Joe Wall, which was clearly riffing on I dreamed I saw Joe Hill.

[6] Okay, it was more like 85 minutes of music plus 5 minutes of a Bruce Springsteen monologue.

[7] The rest of my family has different taste in music than I do. We might have agreed on Celtic Connections, but the Midnight Special tracks would generally not have been something they preferred.

Version 1.0 of 2019-11-16.