The other night I was thinking about all the years I spent listening to music in the car. Just me—with the windows down, one arm dancing in the breeze, the beats driving me forward to the rhythms of the road.
In Southern California having music in the car was a must for me—as there was always one certainty, no matter how uncertain life seemed at the time. Traffic.
But no matter how late or pissed off I was, the radio was always right there with me.
Commercials were like the intermission before the show. They were annoying, sure. The constant drone of Trojan condom and disposable contacts ads wasn’t all bad. It was the build up before the music started again.
That was the greatest moment. That was when all the bullshit went away. It didn’t even matter if you liked the song or not. Remember that?
The ups and downs of the old radio experience were kind of lovely. By today’s standards, it was crappy. Now we have unimaginable options—with no build up, no anticipation.
There is so much instant gratification that it’s never enough. We are never content. We are stuck in the traffic of discontentment. In Yoga, one of the Niyamas is Santosha, which translates to “contentment.”
Often the things we think we need are just wants. Wants are manipulative, and they can fool us into thinking we will not be happy until we get that certain something.
I know that whole I’ll Be Happy When concept all too well. I think many of us do.
By fueling our desires in a constant frenzy, the opposite of the intended result transpires. We thought we were going to become happier after we got what we wanted, but it didn’t work. Or we were happy for a few seconds, then it vanished.
The other day a coworker of mine was running late, because he forgot to plug in his car. The week before that, a couple of the guys were discussing their new home automation systems.
I was floored by these conversations. It’s nothing against my tech savvy coworkers, but all I could think was: Damn, what is this? The Jetsons?
Kind of. Technology keeps on coming, and we latch onto the next big thing. We want life to be easier, quicker, customized to fit every possible “need.”
We are hunting contentment like it’s easy prey. Well, it’s not.
I fall into this mindset as well, get roped up by the ever-changing world we live in. Then I stop and notice. And for some strange reason—though I haven’t owned a car in seven years—recently I started missing my beat-up car radio.
The best times were beach trips with my girlfriends back in high school. We would sing and dance all the way home from the beach. There was sand on the floorboards and our skin was still hot from the sun. Our hair was crunchy and salty, and our muscles were exhausted from playing in the waves.
Traffic was a good thing then. It meant we could hang onto the beach a little longer, avoid responsibilities like chores and homework—those times of dumb innocence we would never feel again.
As adults we see traffic as nothing but a nuisance, and sometimes it can wreck our entire day. Where’s the appreciation for being nowhere and doing nothing? Where’s the singing and the dancing, because we don’t care?
Don’t we all miss those times…when things were so simple?
Anyway, you all know that I’m just another old soul. Or as I like to say…a vintage soul. I rant about technology, but I use it just like anyone else. I use it with a bit of reluctance, as I know convenience doesn’t equal contentment. At the end of the day, we have choices.
I dusted off my journal and wrote this blog post with a pen. It wasn’t quick and efficient, but it felt beautiful to write simply again—without staring at a bright screen while my fingers raced across the plastic keys.
I guess I’ll always be the nostalgic one, preferring to latch onto the past instead of the future. I refuse to forget the ridiculous joy I felt when a good song came on after a commercial break, and I turned up the radio.
It’s okay, you can be nostalgic here. Tell me about your favorite radio memory.
46 thoughts on “Remember Radios?”
I’m right there with yah, babe. When we moved, we gave away my audiophile stereo system from 1989, including a turn table, tape deck, 6-CD player, amp, pre-amp, and a couple of enormous Klipsch speakers. Come to think of it, we should have given him our vinyl, but we still have them in a very heavy box. The guy was ecstatic, said he’d been waiting for something like this to turn up for ages. I felt like Santa Claus and was glad it was going to a good home. Now, we play things off the iPad. Doesn’t feel the same or sound the same, but it takes up much less space. Sigh. Oh, well……
That’s so great, Jilanne! Sounds like you made that guy’s day. No, the sound is never as good on modern devices, but they are definitely space savers. I’m with you!
I used to listen to the radio in the car, but I had to stop because my kids are usually with me. Even the talk in early morning is all about sex! That actually annoys me. I don’t have much interest in hearing about callers’ sex lives or the sex life of their cats, either. We finally got Sirius, talk-free, so I can listen to music without having to explain things to my kids at 7 in the morning!! At home, when I’m writing, I listen to Pandora because they have awesome instrumental and movie soundtrack stations.
Haha, sex lives of cats, eh? No, thanks! I use Google Play and they have some good instrumental stations I throw on when I write too.
I don’t have a radio memory, really., but I do often long for simpler technology. On more than a few recent occasions I have dusted off my four million-pound Royal manual typewriter to bang out a first draft. The noise, coupled with the sloppiness of the finished page is an indescribably delightful thing to behold.
Same here, Mike! Sometimes all of the convenience kind of wears me out and I want to use something old, messy, and loud. 😉
My mind jumped to Roxy Music’s “Oh Yeah,” the one RossMurray1 mentioned above, as well. It’s the perfect soundtrack to your post. My favorite memories are of figuring out exactly when WLS would repeat certain top songs. If they were my favorites, I’d be checking my watch to make sure I caught the next play.
That’s too funny that you AND Ross thought of the same song! Oh, yeah…repetitive songs! That was great as long as you liked the song, of course.
That made me smile. I think I have the same relationship with technology as you do. I still listen to radio in the car but its true to say that is the only place I listen to it now. How odd is that ?
That’s awesome, Peter! Keeping it old school with the car radio…love it!
I still listen to the radio all the time. I need the variety of it; songs I wouldn’t normally choose.
Agreed, honey! It’s nice to be surprised with music we wouldn’t normally choose.
Wonderful thoughts on a page here Britt. I use get my old tape recorder and wait for the American Top Forty and tape my favourite songs. Use to get cranky when the announcer talked over song. Contentment can be a trap and these days I try to simplify what I need between what I think I need.
I used to tape things too! And mixed tapes…SO much fun. Legit contentment comes from simplicity.
Hey girl! Am slowly making my way back to the blogosphere and, of course, am starting with catching up with your posts. What a pleasure to read your writing again! I often listen to the radio in the car on the way to work. Most of the time it’s NPR but sometimes I put a pop station and crank up a good song and laugh at the local ads or the cheesy dj’s voice.
So great to see your pretty face! As you can see from my delayed response, I’m slowly making my way back to replies. Pretty tough to keep up with everything, so I’m doing what I can and not worrying about it too much. Getting to the middle of this third draft and I need to keep my focus there, otherwise I’ll have to make the cat editors jump in to finish the damn thing.
Nothing beats the randomness of the radio! 🙂