Thursday, June 1, 2017

I'm Not In Love (And I'm Not Strange, Either)

A look at the songs that have shaped
my life and ended up on my devices.
This month on "30/30," I'm taking you through some of the songs in my smartphone and iPad playlists and why they're there. Sometimes, a tune is more than just catchy -- it's a snapshot of a time and place in my life.

The opening bars of 10cc's "I'm Not In Love" filled the back of the family car early on a Sunday morning when we were on our way to church, an ethereal prelude to worship, if anything.

"Your father always has it on some strange station," Mom commented, fiddling with the dial and using the prefix for one of many micro-lectures about Dad. Actually, it wasn't a strange station at all: it was KUDL in Kansas City, which referred to itself in the early-to-mid 1980's as "Cuddle" for its mix of soft favorites.

At this time in my childhood, I hadn't graduated to the album-oriented rock (AOR) or current-hit radio (CHR) formats yet, so I spent a lot of time fiddling around the dial among KUDL, KLSI ("Classy 93") and whatever else sounded good at the time. Kansas City had a diverse FM dial back then: classic and current rock on KCFX ("The Fox") and KYYS ("KY-102"), classical on KXTR, country and western on KCMO (KC-95), CHR on 104.3 ("Q104") and KZZT ("ZZ99"), and easy-listening elevator music on KMBR ("Stereo 100"). With the help of an antenna on my bedroom stereo, I could also pull in stations from Lawrence, Kansas and Harrisonville, Missouri.

Over on AM, you had music by day and talk by night on KMBZ (980), home to two of my favorite DJ's: Curt "Mother" Merz (a former pro football player turned DJ), and Johnny Dolan. KCMO (810) delivered news and talk round the clock. A little further to the left of the dial, WHB (710) served up 50's, 60's, and 70's oldies and quickly became the go-to station for my parents. We listened to the "Breakfast Flakes" morning show every weekday when Mom drove my brother and I to school. Most of my knowledge of classic rock and roll came from constant listening in the car.

But back to 10cc -- that song seemed so perfect for that moment of the morning and the haze of my brain, not awake all the way as Mom and Dad drug us to church and susceptible to ethereal influence with its painstakingly multi-tracked chorale of voices. It still remains one of my favorite pop songs for that.

Back then, if other kids knew what I was listening to, it would have been more ammunition in their bullying arsenal. Imagine my vindication when the same opening bars that wafted from KUDL back then wound up opening Guardians Of The Galaxy. Ah, vindication.

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