Today’s will be a bit of a self-indulgent post. You see, it’s my birthday today. I’m now forty-two.
In the year of my birth, 1966, radio was fresh faced and still in its initial stages. The Viet Nam war raged overseas, my father embroiled in its chaos.
The Radio Top Ten that year reflect the times as they were, a mere three years prior to the full-on psychedelic assault of 1969:
1. The Ballad Of The Green Berets — Sgt. Barry Sadler
2. Cherish — The Association
3. (You’re My) Soul And Inspiration — The Righteous Brothers
4. Reach Out I’ll Be There — The Four Tops
5. 96 Tears — ? & The Mysterians
6. Last Train To Clarksville — The Monkees
7. Monday, Monday — The Mamas & The Papas
8. You Can’t Hurry Love — The Supremes
9. Poor Side Of Town — Johnny Rivers
10. California Dreamin’ — The Mamas & The Papas
On the other side of the ocean, American troops had two flavors of radio to rely on: U.S Armed Forces radio and Hanoi Hannah broadcasts produced by the enemy. [Listen to recordings of Hanoi Hannah broadcasts here.]
Forty-two years have passed since those days. The song “96 Tears” has been covered repeatedly, including punk and industrial versions. Radio propaganda is still alive and well, although its form has changed and evolved. People still use radio more than any other mechanism to find new music. That, at least, has not changed.
Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to turn on my favorite jazz station, pour a drink, and celebrate the fact that I’m still around another year later.