Something disconcerting has been happening lately. More and more songs I remember sounding awfully fresh as a kid have started popping up on the local oldies station. The first time it happened was last fall, and it was John Waite's "(I Ain't) Missing You." My husband, newborn, and I were at brunch, and he and I both blanched. The baby remained oblivious and asleep in her infant carrier, refusing to be as horrified as we were.
"You know what it is," Shane said. "That radio station was just a regular radio station back when that song was out. They probably just had it in the back of some closet, waiting until it was sort of okay to play it."
"I'm sure that's it," I said.
It happened more. The theme from "Ghostbusters," they played Halloween weekend. But, we rationalized, practically every radio station in the free world plays the theme from "Ghostbusters" around Halloween. It was a reflection of the holiday, not an indictment of our ages. For the record, I was six when that movie came out; young enough to be really, really freaked out by the Library Ghost. Trust me, for years- YEARS!!! I refused to go to the stacks in the Wellsville Library, even though Mrs. McHenry, the children's librarian, said it was okay.
Mama didn't raise no fool.
I don't listen to the oldies station very often. It's the station my alarm clock/radio is set to, simply because it's the one station that comes in and isn't the Christian channel. In the car, I always have my iPhone set to a playlist- I think I talked about that yesterday. At the airport, when I was flying a lot, the airport manager always had the radio set to the oldies station, but it's the local station for Wellsville, and I always thought it was kind of cool to preflight the Piper while listening to the Beach Boys. They hadn't started pulling this crap, playing music from my childhood (the 1980s, maybs the early 1990s). The other day, we were back at brunch again, and I mentioned to our waitress (and next door neighbor) that WJQZ was playing some awfully new-sounding music that morning. She broke the news that she heard Bon Jovi on that station earlier that week. It's only a matter of time before we'll hear the familiar guitar lick from "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on JQZ.
I've always said the day Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Oasis, and Deep Blue Something, and No Doubt hit the oldies station is the day I'm buying a walker and a girdle and developing a strong affinity to butterscotch candies.
But you know what? I think I've had the wrong attitude about hearing music from "my day" on the oldies station. About a year back, a friend of mine who's about 13 years younger put up in her Facebook status that she was listening to "The Freshman" by the Verve Pipe, and I commented that I was actually a freshman (in college) when that song came out. Her reaction was "woah." And that didn't even hurt.
Really. I think we should all be so lucky as to hear the songs that take us back to the fifth grade, or senior year, or college on oldies radio. Isn't that the point? We want to stick around at this party as long as we can, and squeeze every last drop of living out. It's a privilege not everyone gets, to hear their prom song on the oldies station, and to find their Jostens Class Stein in an antiques shop. And regarding those steins: a show of hands of anyone who'd spend that $19.95 on a stupid stein with their graduation year on it if they had to do over again, anyway? Anybody? I hear crickets. I wouldn't, either. Mine's up in the attic and reached its apex of usefulness when I needed a pencil cup for my desk at college that was tall enough to accommodate a full-size pair of scissors without tipping over if I looked at it cross-eyed. They belong in antiques stores, alongside the other stuff that's not terribly useful, but what we feel bad getting rid of, simply because it's been around so long.
I'm not going to blanch the next time I hear a song on the oldies station that I remember being shiny and brand-spankin' new. I'm going to get up and do the closest approximation of dancing I can. Or maybe not. I make Elaine from Seinfeld look like a prima ballerina. So what I'll do is sit there and be happy that I have the privilege to hear the songs I grew up with on Oldies Radio. I hope you are as delighted. Yeah, it means we're not kids anymore. It means time is marching on, but that's going to happen with our without us. If we're hearing the music, we're still here. We win! We should all be so lucky!