The AM Dial


I’m 43 as I write this. My generation grew up in the 1970s with a common culture. We watched the same movies, watched one of three TV channels and listened to one of three or four local radio stations. Now that we’re grown, we may not share the same religions, politics or tastes in terrible television shows, but we share the same pop culture memories and more than anything else, the AM radio provided the soundtrack.

In the ‘70s not every radio had FM capabilities, especially in cars. The AM dial was on in the Country Squire Station Wagon that I rode in sans seat belt. It was played in stores and restaurants too cheap to shell out for Muzak. We absorbed these songs and they are a part of us collectively. A few lines of “Rocket Man” and I’m taken back to a time of polyester jumpsuits, bell-bottoms, afros, the color orange and Evel Kneivel.

I fondly recall lying on the living room floor, the only light in the room coming from the dial on the Pioneer receiver, with the headphones connected like an umbilical cord to the AM band. As I made “shag angels” in the plush purple carpeting, I would listen to songs like “Rich Girl” by Hall and Oats, “I Am, I Said” by Neil Diamond or “Brother Louie” by The Stories. Or in the morning my clock/radio would awaken me for school with the sounds of Terry Jacks singing about “Seasons In The Sun” or Rita Coolidge’s “Your Love Is Liftin’ Me Higher”.

When I perform the Tony Starlight AM Gold show I am always shocked at how the audience seems to know all the words to every song in our playlist. To hear the crowd sing “Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with you honey” or “Give me the beat boys and free my soul, I wanna get lost in your Rock n’ Roll and drift away” is magical. It’s like a big campfire sing-along, K-Tel style! I hope you can come out to one of these AM Gold shows sometime and relive the glorious past.


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