On Blues-Rock

I don’t usually have the regular use of a car, but for various reasons I do at the moment, and so I’m listening to the radio more than I normally do. Here in Ottawa I haven’t found a radio station I really like, but the one I turn to is 101.9 DAWG FM, which plays blues-rock. Or what they think of as blues-rock, anyway.

[It’s going to sound, in this blogpost, as though I’m tearing several strips off of DAWG FM. That’s not my intention. Basically I enjoy listening to their station. I just have to shake my head at certain aspects of their operation, that’s all.]

Some of the stuff they play is legitimately bluesy. But some of it is just rock that they can make the argument that it’s kind of bluesy, though, even though it really isn’t. (Some obviously older and well-known; not sure how much new. “When Love Comes to Town” by U2 and BB King is one of their big favourites, if that suggests anything to you.) The announcers… they tend to get these extremely white-sounding people to do their DJing. Very soft, nonthreatening male voices, a little too close to the microphone, talking about how they went to IKEA on the weekend. This kind of thing. The station advertises their morning show, the Dawg’s Breakfast, with some kind of patter about how crazy it gets and maybe you better not listen to it because it’ll be too much for you. No it won’t; it’s the most sedate morning show I’ve ever heard.

And it’s fine. If they’ve determined that this is the kind of thing the people of Ottawa want to hear, I have no issue with it. I’m not trying to prove how Authentic I am or anything. Now, if <em>I</em> was running a blues-rock station, <em>I</em> might want to put someone on the air who’s <em>cool</em> in some way, in <em>any</em> way, but that’s just me.

One problem with the station is that they don’t seem to have the deepest catalog in the world. I only hear it for about fifteen minutes at a time, a few times a day, but even in that limited exposure I occasionally hear a song that I’ve already heard them play not long ago. That shouldn’t happen. Not without listening to it a lot more than I do.

Or then there’s what happened today, which had me shouting, “Come on!” at the car radio. See, one of the things they do every so often is they play the little sounder that says, “Another DAWG FM Soul Shot!” and then they play an old soul song. Which I’m all for, because I love old soul music. So last week, late afternoon, I’m driving along, and they announce another DAWG FM Soul Shot. Which turns out to be “Roll with It” by Steve Winwood. And I had to laugh, because I know soul music well enough to know that that ain’t it. I like Steve Winwood; I like “Roll with It”. If they want to play it, I’m happy to listen. But don’t try to tell me that this is freaking soul music.

That was last week. Today, again late afternoon, I’m driving home, and another Soul Shot comes along. This time it turns out to be…

… “Roll with It” by Steve Winwood.

What is this, they only know four soul songs? Of which one of them isn’t even? Silliness.

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #2 Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

I’m tempted to put this one higher. Number one. That’s how great it is. But the problem with it is (and it’s the same for yesterday’s song, with which it actually has some things in common) that it’s largely about romantic love, which certainly has its place at Christmastime, but is not the main attraction of Christmas.

Chances are you’re familiar with the U2 version of this song. I’m not here to pick a fight with U2; they did a perfectly good job. There’s nothing wrong with their rendition at all. Darlene Love’s just better at this than they are, that’s all.

Darlene Love was one of the great soul singers of her time. She never got the fame that usually comes with a description like that (although she did okay) so it’s possible that you only know her from playing Trish Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon movies. She was the real thing, though, and she really gets her shoulder behind this song, to an extent perhaps unsurpassed in the human history of singing.

Close your eyes and listen to Darlene Love, backed by Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, unleashing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” upon you.

#25: Sleigh Ride
#24: Huron Carol
#23: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!/Count Your Blessings/We Wish You a Merry Christmas
#22: The Twelve Days of Christmas
#21: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
#20: Fuck Christmas
#19: Jingle Bell Rock
#18: What’s This? & Making Christmas
#17: Oi! To the World
#16: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
#15: Blue Christmas
#14: Christmas in Hollis
#13: We Need a Little Christmas
#12: Marshmallow World
#11: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
#10: Step Into Christmas
#9: Jingle Bells
#8: Christmas Comes But Once a Year (Christmas in Carrick)
#7: Christmas Wrapping
#6: Silver Bells
#5: O Holy Night
#4: Carol of the Bells
#3: All I Want for Christmas Is You