Playlist: Rock & Roll Throwback Jams

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Graphics by Maeve Huttner

By Sophia Cloonan, WERS Staff Writer

Rock & Roll is a genre I grew up on. My family did a lot of road trips, seeing that both my siblings and I played multiple sports and airline tickets were simply too expensive. Being the youngest, I was never in charge of the radio, stuck in the backseat with whatever was blasting through the speakers.

My dad would play country nonstop, my mom often leaving on today’s greatest hits, but my brother was the one to open my eyes to rock & roll. We have millions of illegally burned CDs filled with Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Journey, Styx, Motley Crew, Queen–you name it, we had it because of my brother, and boy did I worship those. 

Each song that I included in this playlist is connected to a memory of some kind, even though these artists are not from my generation. That’s what makes this situation interesting: Unlike people like my parents who grew up with these bands, I do not have concert memories or party memories, or even simple everyday memories of hearing these bands. However, I still have a big passion for every song. Whether it’s the sound, the artist, or the lyrics, these songs have stuck with me. 

"Eleanor Rigby" – The Beatles

A more recent memory here, going to just a few months ago to this past summer. A reminder of some hot days where all you need is The Beatles and something cold to drink. Elanor Rigby is such an interesting song to me. It follows quick beats that make the song seem so happy with such dark lyrics, a style that seems to be relevant to other songs that came afterward. This song tells a story, and the quick beats move it along as if the writers don’t want you to know exactly what’s happening, a true mystery effect. 

"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" – Elton John

Of course, I had to include Sir Elton John on my list. In my opinion, he’s one of the greatest. I have a very silly memory of this song involving my grandma, as she hates when people “yell” or “scream” while singing, which is exactly what Elton John does in the chorus of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." After playing the song for my grandma, she expressed her disgust as Elton John opens into the chorus. I try to explain how Elton John is one of the best singers and pianists of all time. She doesn’t agree with me to this day simply because of this song, my favorite Elton John song. 

"Deacon Blues" – Steely Dan

This song places me right back in my dad’s Ford Aspire, a nasty car that made me car sick from the stick shift. With a broken AC, a radio that let out some smoke every now and then, and stained seats, my dad took me and my siblings everywhere in this thing. Now how is Steely Dan connected to this? Well, my dad found an old Steely Dan CD in some boxes and that seemed to be the only CD that was played in that Aspire. My dad taught me the meaning of the lyrics of Deacon Blues from his own perspective. It's a sad song with an extremely upbeat toon, and the saxophone solo has always been our favorite part of that song.  

"Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’" – Journey

Did you know it takes about 10 hours to get from San Diego, California to San Francisco, California? And that the Journey’s Greatest Hits album is about an hour in total length? That means in the midst of that road trip we could listen to it 10 times, which is exactly what we did. Journey has always been one of my favorites. An “overplayed” banded as my mom calls them, but their jams are my go tos. "Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’" is my top Journey song, I love the lyrics and the passion that Steve Perry puts into the song. Belting out the lyrics is my favorite pastime simply because Perry hits the song so hard. In my eyes, it’s one of the most passionate songs out there. 

"Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" – Billy Joel

Moving out to college: That’s what I associate with this song. Though it has nothing to do with the actual meaning of the song, I kept singing it as I was letting people know what I was doing come the end of August. As Joel says in the song, "I was moving out, I was moving up." I love that idea--getting away from your comfort zone and experiencing new things in order to make greater things happen. At some point I hope I can, “trade in my Chevy for a Cadillac” (or at least my Nissan for a Mustang because that’s more my speed). The motivation in this song is something I lived off of and will continue to live off of. 

"Turn the Page" – Bob Seger

This is a song I always turn back to. The opening of this song gives me chills: There's the sound of the wailing saxophone (I love saxophones if you couldn't tell), a sound I will always remember. My favorite environment to be in with this song is a particularly cool night with the windows down on a quiet drive; a weird situation yes, but a perfect one in my books. It’s the time to be with yourself and really listen to the music. That’s what Bob Seger is there for, to keep us company. 

"Comfortably Numb" – Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd is definitely my favorite rock band. The mystery, the story, the guitar shredding--I can’t stop listening to song after song. "Comfortably Numb" isn’t necessarily my favorite Pink Floyd song, but it’s one I listen to often. The song has stuck with me for some time now, and I don't mind hearing it sneak on the radio every now and then. The song just has every aspect of a good song, and an interesting storyline that can only be clarified through close attention, or by watching the Pink Floyd movie. 

"Radio Gaga"– Queen

This is also a more recent song for me. Though I love Queen and remember a whole list of their songs on my MP3 player, Radio Gaga just recently came into my library. I originally didn’t like the techno-like opener; it wasn’t how I saw Queen. But now, I can’t stop listening. The radio taught generations upon generations numerous things, and now they sit, dusty and old, a part of our everyday lives and no longer a luxury. Don’t forget how the radio makes you feel. Can you tell I learned that from the song? 

So why do I like this music so much? As briefly as I can put it, it’s because it’s real. Anyone can press buttons on a keyboard to make a cool beat as another person reads aloud lines of a poem (check out Soundcloud for examples). Rock & Roll, however, involves real instruments, real songwriting, and intense thought into everything produced. I’m not saying current music isn’t art, but rock music is definitely more of an art form that appeals to my taste. Just listen. 

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