The music sounds different


Recently, I put a radio station ( on the air playing ‘50s, ’60s and ’70s rock ‘n’ roll music. Not an unexpected surprise due to the fact that I spent more than 40 years in radio, and I used to own a station in earlier years. However, there were a few things that took me by surprise.

No one had to tell me how much work it would be. I knew that. However, I must admit that the last time I did something like this, I was a little younger and had more raw energy. Now I find that I don’t have as much energy, but pure adrenaline. Which means that when the tank runs dry, it really runs dry. And while all this is true, that isn’t surprising to me.

What I find most surprising is how different the music of the era I’m playing sounds. I was a kid when most of this stuff was big, but always loved Roy Orbison, Jay and The Americans, The Chiffons, Elvis and so on. However, while it is SO cool to hear these songs again, they somehow sound different. So, I thought I would investigate the reason for it, turned up my hearing aids, put on my pop-bottle eyeglasses, and went to work.

I thought perhaps there was some after-market audio processing that took place which gave the music a different sound and feel. Could it have been that new musicians were employed to lay new soundtracks beneath original vocals? The research was quite exhaustive, and many were the times I just simply dozed off, and upon awakening, had forgot what I was investigating. That, of course, explains the extreme time consumption of this whole thing.

I tried to contact several of the artists, but after about two grueling telephone calls, I learned that I didn’t have correct numbers, but I did meet some very nice wrong numbers and had some enjoyable conversations about grandkids, good sources of diet fiber and so on. Again, I forgot why I called them to begin with.

Why had I chosen to play this genre of music in the first place was the only thing that was clear. My wife told me to. Now before you get the wrong idea, I am a man who can make up his mind, once my wife tells me which way to make it up (just kidding, kind of). Seriously though, it was at her suggestion that the fun oldies came to past. I was leaning toward traditional country, but we discussed that there are many sources for that genre, but few for fun oldies. And, as usual, she was correct. I have to confess that I am really “digging” (see, I can do the ’60s lingo) the music and the fond memories it brings back.

I am also surprised at the young people who are enjoying it also. Some have seriously said they thought some of it was new. After all, they had never heard it before, so to them, it is new!

It is so cool to hear certain tunes that take me back to a certain day. For example, each time I hear Paul McCartney sing “Yesterday,” I remember one miserable snowy Saturday afternoon in which my Dad and I had been out doing something, but came in to a warm house and while checking out the newly placed Christmas lights on the tree heard that song come on the radio. What a wonderful warm feeling that brings back.

I have spoken with so many who have related similar experiences. Happy stories of people spending time with their parents or siblings. One lady thanked me for playing Roy Orbison because she remembered riding in the car with her mother and Roy Orbison music was playing all the while. That makes it all worth it to me.

However, for some reason, the music sounds so me different to me now than it did back then. I guess it has something to do with hearing it through mature ears. I have a different appreciation for it now than I did back then. I remember when Credence Clearwater Revival, the Doobie Brothers and Rod Stewart were cranking out the hits. I could care less. I was into George Jones and Conway Twitty. I still am, but now I can’t get enough of Chicago, ELO, Dobie Gray and The Mamas and the Papas!

Someone said that if you continually look back, you can’t move ahead, so I decided to make the past a part of our future. And so far, a lot of us are digging it!

Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at [email protected] and follow his work at and

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