Sunday, December 21, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Yet another huge influence on my musical tastes is a friend featured here. Some back story and a holiday song are my focus today.

Back when I was 11, my brother got involved in a classmate's low wattage radio station. I thought it was cool, radio junkie that I was. Little did I know, a few short years later, I'd become friends with Joe ('Joe Student' is his on-air moniker) and have a show on his radio station. At first, he engineered and I was the 'talent', the voice on the air. Later, I learned the art of engineering, thanks to Joe's teachings.

Thanks to the many hours spent at Joe's house, recording shows, I learned a lot about new wave music, enough about radio broadcasting that I wanted to make it my career and even more about how talented musicians are everywhere.

Joe is self taught on all the instruments he plays. Even better, he BUILT some of his instruments. He made a drum synthesizer from what appeared to be a piece of cardboard and carpentry nails (I know there had to be more to it), long before one could find Synsonics drums. For a college class, he convinced his Mom that the project for that semester needed to be a vocoder-so he built one from a kit. Heck, the entire studio that we broadcasted from was built partly from kits, but mostly from Joe's ingenuity. His approach to music was the same as it was for the radio station.

He's the first friend that I owned recordings of his music. Unfortunately, most of it was on cassette and has not survived poor storage. It's a shame, because I really enjoyed the synth-based tunes and witty lyrics. ("Cities of Glass" was one of his albums that was played nearly non stop when I got a new car in '88!)

It made sense that he'd find a career in the radio field. His technical skills were snatched up by a Long Island radio station after he got a bachelor's in Electrical Engineering. With the paycheck came upgrades to his instruments and recording equipment.

Not long after, I moved to Maryland, I got a job in radio. My tenure was short lived, because the wallet couldn't tolerate the paltry pay. However, Joe still is making a living in the radio industry, now creating software for radio stations. For his coworkers, he provides an in house radio station. The internet gets a Live 365 channel from him, too.

His experiences in the field inspired this song. Never one to be verbose, this is his succinct explanation of what is about to come:

As far as origin, you probably know it: it sucks to be a DJ and have to work on Christmas but at least you can share in the joy through the songs you play. That about sums it up!


Several Christmases ago, he sent Ed and I a CD that gets trotted out every holiday season. It contains of Joe's holiday songs, a few of Ed and his band's, a recording of me that is atrociously bad and will never be shared here!

Once I got the iPod, the selections on that CD that I enjoyed most were quickly added to my playlist. What this means is that each holiday season, we hear "Sleigh Ride" and "Christmas On The Air", Joe's humorous look at life as a radio DJ stuck broadcasting Christmas Day. (I didn't pull a double shift my one year as a paid radio DJ, but I did have my usual 7 hour gig that night.)

I asked Joe if I could share this here and happily, he's agreed that I can share one of those songs that has to be played many times for it to feel like Christmas for me. This year, Chef can sing all the words-which means that I've done my job as a parent!

Merry Christmas, Joe! Merry Christmas, Everyone!

1 People talked back:

Mike Golch said...

being a DJ,that is one thing that I have not tried.