December 3rd, 2004

The gentleman is always properly dressed

God save the queen

Back in high school, I took a liking to a fairly unusual radio station. It was a commercial station, but it didn’t have a dedicated format1. You were just as likely to hear the latest cutting edge2 music as 1960’s garage rock or 1970’s funk. Punk, classical, zydeco... it was all just there.

One of my favorite things about the station was their "7AM Sid Vicious Wake-Up Call." Without fail, you could wake up to Anarchy in the U.K. or Friggin’ in the Riggin’ or some such, and it was good. After discovering this, I conditioned myself to this little jolt in the morning. It was juice to help me go. A small bit of absurdity that helped me cope.

Weeks went by before something terrible happened. I woke up at 7AM, but they weren’t playing Sid. They were playing Michael Jackson. Michael Effing3 Jackson. In my head, I remember the song as Rock With Me, but it could just as easily have been Billie Jean or some other pop-darling favorite that had gotten far too much airplay on those OTHER stations. I couldn’t believe the sense of betrayal I felt. They had made a promise to me. I depended on them and they let me down. I couldn’t stop listening.

Before I knew what was happening, the sound of a needle being dragged across the record4 repeatedly screeched out of the radio. Then I heard what could only have been a hammer pounding the record into tiny bits. When the racket settled, there was silence.

After 10 seconds, the dj came on and said, "You will never again hear that record on this radio station."

And it was good.

1It’s since gone to seed and accepted that format of the damned, Classic Rock. The switch was announced exactly one month after I moved to Boston to go to school.
2I’m not even sure it was called “alternative” yet. I’m old.
3Which, as you know, is a small village outside of Effingham, IL.
4Yeah, now I’m talking about LPs. Hell-o. Old.