"Moron Music"

2009
Sep
21

Ah, that lovely jingle chorus that punctuated one of The Credibility Gap’s musical satires from the ’70s… of course, they insist that it was meant to be “More On Music”, but we know, we know…

It’s funny who you come in contact with via Twitter. A few weeks ago MeFite Paulo (aka Brownpau) Tweeted that he had come in contact with a Musak Van (with photographic evidence) muzakvan and I had to comment that it was “one company that used to be everywhere without having their logo everywhere”, which earned me a Twitter reply from an actual Muzak employee! (since lost in the faulty-longterm-memory of Twitter Search)

If I’d had more than 140 characters, I’d have told him about my favorite Muzak moment, in a store that was still using their ‘orchestral instrumental versions of pop hits’ service in the ’80s, when I recognized a song that was a pre-Pina Colada Song composition of Rupert Holmes, which, since I had been one of only 7 people who bought his first two albums, was obviously NOT a hit – but apparently somebody at Muzak was one of the other 6 people, and that made me feel good (maybe the only time Old-School Musak made me feel good).

I also recall way back in 1978, running an automated radio station (believing at the time it was the Future of Radio) and learning how it all worked and trying to make it work to sound less… well, automated. (That mix of Radio Programming and Computer Programming should have been my dream job except that the Management didn’t allow me to actually do anything creative) But I devised an idea for a scaled-down version of the interconnected tape decks and switching system that could provide a personalized background music system for individual retail stores. I wanted to name it “P.O.P. (for Point-Of-Purchase) Music” but I could never scale it down enough to be economically feasible, and by the time the technology improved enough, I had left the idea far behind. Still, whenever I hear radio-commercial-style announcements shoehorned between songs in a store’s background ambiance (instead of interrupting mid-song, which some retail systems still do), I tell myself “I thought of that… long before its time”.

Still, I am occasionally reminded of how imperfect the technology still is, as when, in one of my favorite local supermarkets, I heard both infamous Stevie Nicks duets from the ’70s played back to back (“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” w/Tom Petty and “Leather and Lace” w/Don Henley). Neither one has aged that well, but Henley got the worst of any comparison. Still… BACK TO BACK?!?

But my oddest background music incident of recent days occurred in a laundromat which was piping in a local radio station that plays “Classic Hits”. Maybe it’s my long estrangement with Broadcast Radio (my last three cars have lacked functioning radios and my only home unit is a clock radio tuned to the local affiliate of K-PIG which I rarely use to wake up), but I was mildly amused at how over 1/3 of the songs they played I had first heard on the “groundbreakingly adventurous” KROQ in the ’80s. Then, they played New Order’s “True Faith”, which is still one of my favorite songs of the decade (and not just because of the video featuring the Awesomely Silly Costumed Fighting, Braille and Disco Dance Troupe).

But the version the local radio station played was weird… it edited out part of the song’s refrain (which, in unedited form, goes like this):

I used to think that the day would never come
Id see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun…

The version I heard omitted the 4th and 5th lines (about “the childhood I lost” and the second “I used to think”), turning two rhyming couplets into one annoyingly non-rhyming one. WHY? If there was anything controversial in the lyric it would only be “my morning sun is the drug…” which was left in… and it wasn’t edited for time; the entire long instrumental bridge of the longer version was intact, just those two lines from all 3 times the refrain played. This is totally inexplicable to me. Yeah, I could contact the radio station directly, but I’d have to give up my 15 Year Chip with Ex-Radio-Guys Anonymous, and I’m getting close to earning my 20 Year Chip (yes, it was an addiction for me). Has anybody else ever heard “True Faith” butchered like that on the radio where you are? Moron music, indeed.

1 Comment (so far) about

"Moron Music"

  1. Shawno Says:

    Can’t say I’ve heard this oddly edited version of “True Faith.” But, sorta in regards to Muzak. I’m often surprised by some of the non-Muzak songs that occasionally slip into the usually nocuous background music of various businesses. Last week, I was at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in SLO and I heard a song from the most recent Neko Case album. I had to stop for a moment to try and hear it over the din. It was a nice surprise. I left before the song was over. I’m guessing it was followed up by something by the Backstreet Boys.

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