*Author’s note: Click on the bolded words throughout this post for supporting links and video clips.

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Article by Bob Langham

The spirit of music was introduced to me at a young age via the radio, which I have always considered the most perfect conduit to share the musical experience. Unlike music videos and concert performances, radio still involves the listener’s imagination – something most adults have stored away like a favorite childhood toy which society has said we are too grown up to enjoy. We listen, we interpret, and we give meaning and pictures to what we hear emanating from the radio based on our individual life experience.

That is the spirit and the power of radio as I see it (or hear it). It brings this offering of music and lyrics, descending magically from the heavens (airwaves) into the collective consciousness and touches each individual soul differently, not unlike the religious words, of the faceless prophets on which civilizations have been built and destroyed for centuries. 

Musical taste, like religious ideology varies widely across the world but while wars are waged and fought over religion, the spirit of radio and its message of music and lyrics can provide a common ground among a world of conflicting views.

Radio is not what it used to be. It has been swallowed up in this 24-hour sound bite corporate culture, but thankfully the Buggles were not as prophetic as we thought they were when they debuted a music video about the demise of radio to christen a new cable station called MTV. The Buggles are gone, and for the most part so is MTV as it first appeared, but the spirit of radio endures.

I have included just a few songs below, which celebrate the power and spirit of radio.

Invisible airwaves crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle with energy
Emotional feedback on a timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free

-Rush, Spirit of Radio
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She climbs into bed, pulls the covers overhead and turns her little radio on
She’s had a rotten day so she hopes the DJ’s gonna play her favorite song
It makes her feel much beter. brings her closer to her dreams
A little magic power makes it better than it seems

-Triumph, Magic Power

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Hold ourselves together with our arms around the stereo for hours
While it sings to itself or whatever it does
When it sings to itself of its long lost loves

-The National, Apartment Story

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I’m in love with the radio on
It helps me from being lonely late at night
It helps me from being lonely late at night
I don’t feel so bad now in the car
Don’t feel so alone, got the radio on

-The Modern Lovers, Roadrunner

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and on the radio
we heard “November Rain”
The solo’s really long
but it’s a pretty song
We listened to it twice
cause the dj was asleep

-Regina Spektor, On the Radio

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Switching it over to AM
Searching for a truer sound
Can’t recall the call letters
Steel guitar and settle down
Catching an all-night station somewhere in Louisiana
It sounds like 1963, but for now it sounds like heaven

-Son Volt, Windfall

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So mister, mister DJ
Keep those records playin’
“Cuz I’m havin’ such a good time
Dancin’ with my baby

We’re havin’ a party
Everybody’s swingin’
Dancin’ to the music
On the radio

-Sam Cooke, Having a Party

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Pilot of the airwaves
Here is my request
You don’t have to play it
But I hope you’ll do your best
I’ve been listening to your show on the radio
And you seem like a friend to me

-Charlie Dore, Pilot of the Airwaves

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And there goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play,
And says what he wants to say,
Hey hey hey.
And there goes your freedom of choice,
There goes the last human voice,
And there goes the last DJ.

-Tom Petty, The Last DJ

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