Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, March 31, 2004


My report of Saturday night (March 27) may have greatly exaggerated the death of alternative rock. When I got in the car to run an errand this evening, my wife had left the radio tuned to a classic rock station. Or that’s what I thought. I’m 90% sure Chris Cornell of the ‘90s grunge superstar band Soundgarden was singing. Beautiful voice, great singer. At the end of the song (which I didn’t know, not being a big Soundgarden fan but an admirer of their Superunknown album), the station ID announced its slogan: “Alternative Seattle.” Sounded like a ‘90s focus, but I’m not sure.


I don’t want to give the impression that I think classical fans are the only music snobs. Some station ID’s from Seattle radio:

“Where the music matters.” (College nonprofit station, all music.) Terrible slogan! And -- sometimes they play kitschy ‘60s records, like Herb Alpert, as “ironic” background for community announcements. Herb Alpert -- either he ain’t playin’ music, or it don’t matter! (I like those records!)

“For people who like music.” (Adult contemporary rock.) The yuckiest slogan of all! That station’s other slogan is “quality rock,” which is, you know, at least kind of funny.

“Seattle’s hottest music.” (High school student run nonprofit dance music station.) Boastful, but it works for me. Because I think it’s true! And those high school kids are charming. Especially when they haltingly read the news headlines every hour. Ending with, “And now, you’re up to date!” Hey, thanks, kid. Your halting ineptitude is 10 times preferable to smirking professionalism or bored above-it-all-ness.

“Fun oldies.” (‘60s rock hits.) Dull, but no problem with that one. But sometimes they say something about, “No rap or disco.” You know what? We already know you aren’t going to play rap or disco. No need to boast about it.

“Great songs, great memories.” (Non-rock pop going back to Glenn Miller.) Always said with a spritz of merriment. Most of the DJs sound kind of swishy. I like them a lot. Very cheerful. Even when they’re boastful. Made-up example: “Coming up we have Anne Murray, Elvis, Benny Goodman, and Frank Sinatra. Makes you wonder what the *poor* stations are listening to.” So ridiculous, it doesn’t really bother me. Much. A similar station I heard once about 10 years ago in the San Jose area had a much more culture-war-like slogan, said very deep and chesty, “Our kind of music.” Emphasis on “Our.”

“Country on!” (Contemporary country station.) I’ve only heard this ID once, and I liked it. Shouted enthusiastically, riffing on the great exhortation, “rock on!”

“A world of music and ideas.” (College non-profit music and alternative [non-NPR] news.) My favorite ID in town -- so open-ended -- visionary, even. They also have my two favorite show names, a “world music” show Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 5:00 called “Daily Planet” (holy Clark Kent, Batman!), and the Friday morning “world music” show, “Caravan,” after the Juan Tizol tune from the Duke Ellington songbook. (Tizol was in Ellington’s band.) “Be-bop Spoken Here,” another morning show, also has a nice name.

Turns out I like more slogans than I dislike. That’s nice, and it surprises me to find out.

Seattle’s for-profit classical station has a plainly descriptive slogan, “Seattle’s classical station,” said in that mellow sonorous deep friendly classical DJ voice. Most of the other stations -- the ones I know -- are pretty self-explanatory too, “Classic country,” “Classic rock.”


Horrible, gruesome, heart-breaking news of Iraqis rejoicing in murdered Americans in Iraq today. I heard the Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” 3 times on the radio. A song about the king violently repressing Muslim self-expression. I’m way way way not into the self-expression of anybody exulting in anybody else’s murder -- it's horrifying -- but if the DJs are calling for indiscriminate bombing in response, they can go to hell. And in the unlikely eventuality that the DJs may be so passionately opposed to the American conquerors that they're using the Clash's ambiguous chorus as applause for the murders of Americans, they can go to hell.

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