Rage Against the Radio


Radio On: A Listener’s Diary, by Sarah Vowell – A younger and crankier Vowell listened to the radio constantly in 1995, and left her comments on it for the world to see. Much of it was pretty negative, but there’s some positive mixed in as well. Considering that she owes some amount of her fame to NPR, it’s interesting that she’s often pretty down on it, considering it toothless and absolutely hating Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion. Rush Limbaugh is the subject of a good amount of ire as well. Vowell is someone who’s truly passionate about music and her other interests, and has some pretty good taste. The title references Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, and Vowell notes that “Roadrunner” is an ode to driving and listening to the radio, but you so rarely hear anything that good ON the actual radio. She also mentions the Fastbacks, a relatively recent discovery of mine. Vowell had a particular love for Nirvana, and while I was never into them, she does a good job at convincing me that Kurt Cobain was a quite admirable person in some ways. She writes about how some of the same people who bullied Cobain in his youth would show up at his concerts and such, and he basically told them they shouldn’t bother. Something like that, anyway; I can’t find the actual passage just now. It’s an interesting read, although not my favorite of Vowell’s books.

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