In July of 1984, I mentioned to a friend that for the first time that I could recall, the number one song on the Billboard charts was something I had never heard. The song was “When Doves Cry” from Prince’s Purple Rain soundtrack album. It had totally escaped my ears and for the first time in my life, I was all of 28.
So imagine my feelings today at age 65 upon reading the NPR list of best songs of 2021, and not recognizing a single song, from #100 down to #1. A total shut-out. And this wasn’t a list from some hip new-age media outlet. This wasn’t the 100 most streamed songs on Tik-Tok. No, this was a list from National Friggin’ Public Radio, the network programmed for old farts and fans of over-enunciated world news. NPR is 100% cooler than I am.
I did recognize the name of one artist on the list. Robert Plant showed up for a duet with Allison Krauss. For those of you even more out of touch than I am, Mr. Plant was once the lead singer for a band called Led Zeppelin. No-those boys didn’t make this year’s NPR 100.
It’s not that I have stopped listening to music. I still do. And “my” station, WXRT plays some new music along with the oldies. But I guess not one of the adult alternative songs they play (that’s the description of the format from Audacy, Inc. the station’s owner) was one of the year’s 100 winners. What a losing record! That’s what they get for letting Mary Dixon run off to WBEZ. Hey–isn’t WBEZ the local NPR affiliate? Mary must be even hipper than I thought!
So what was NPR’s Number One Song of the Year? Lil Nas X’s “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” took the number one slot. If I had a nickel for every time I have heard it, well, I wouldn’t have a nickel.
Yes, I am old, crotchety, and out-of-date. On TV I’m watching the new documentary about John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The last books on music I have read were by Keith, Bruce, and Patti. I just am not on a first-name basis with Cardi and Nas and Megan Thee.
So I’ll just sit back and listen to my radio. “Once In a Lifetime” by The Talking Heads is playing. I remember when they were avant-garde.
And so was I.
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