So a friend and supporter of le blog recently reminded me that I should post more and I have long understood that this is true. Also do shorter posts. So here goes…
As I have stated before, one of the endlessly fascinating things about me is that I used to be a DJ. This is going to date me (well somebody should) but in the late 70s I worked at KFM 102 in Las Vegas. This was in the heyday of Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees, but we were firmly in the “Disco Sucks” camp. Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Boston, we played all the stuff that is now considered classic rock…but back then it was new. AOR we called it for Album Oriented Radio or “All Over the Road.”
Well, how a nice Christian boy ended up in this den of 33⅓ RPM iniquity is a story for another day, but I toiled there behind the scenes for about a year before they finally let me go on the air. It was on Saturday nights at midnight and I was the host of what they called the “Saturday Night Album Flight.” This meant that I played five albums in their entirety, one side at a time with commercials and me talking in between. It was a good way to break in a new DJ because I only had to talk every 20 minutes or so. Even if one of those albums was a double album the “flight” was done about 3 or 3:30 and that meant I only freestyled until God Squad started at 4am.
Back then, the very non prime time Sunday morning spot from 4am on – when presumably our station’s core audience had long since been incapacitated by the previous evening’s activity – was reserved for religious and public service programming that had been brokered to various organizations and that also fulfilled FCC regulations. That block was called “God Squad.” Most of it was as boring as last night’s dishwater and I don’t remember much about it. I do remember one pastor who used to come in and record his program. He was Dr. Lavendis from the Church of Truth. He looked and sounded just like Boris Karloff. The guy who played Frankenstein’s Monster and The Mummy as my spiritual leader? Yes please!
Almost every Sunday one of these programs would come up a couple of minutes short and I needed to find a two minute song to get us back on track. My song of choice was the Crosby, Stills, and Nash (Oxford comma inserted by me damn it!) song “Just a Song Before I Go” from 1977. It’s a nice song that showcased their harmonies and, most importantly, clocked in at two minutes and 13 seconds.
I didn’t have to deal with this for most of my brief radio career because I had 20 minutes when I didn’t have to be in the studio, but most DJs back then appreciated a long song. Nowadays if there’s actually a DJ spinning disks at a radio station they have CDs and they can probably program their equipment to segue from song to song, but back then you had to physically cue up your LP and hit “play.” For that reason DJs loved a song that lasted more than three minutes so that they could go and visit the necessary…or go outside and smoke a “J,” it was the 70s.
Rock stations in the 70s had it better than pop stations. This was an era when full of themselves “art bands” like Jethro Tull and Yes were putting out songs that took up entire sides of an LP. Some of these reeeeaaallly long songs like “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” at 18 minutes might have been too much but a fave rave was “Nights in White Satin” by The Moody Blues. The album version was 7:38 so it gave you plenty of time to “breathe deep the gathering gloom” without totally driving away your audience. And it still holds up, I’ve got it on my Spotify playlist.
OK, I better quit. I’ve got more radio stories like the time one of the stations I worked at was invaded by grasshoppers or the female DJ I saw naked (don’t worry I was a virgin during my entire career…and long after). Maybe I’ll tell more if you want me to…
But what are your favorite long or slow songs? Tell me in the comments…please? Lonely blogger cries for love and has none.