WXRT 93.1 FM in Chicago is my favorite radio station. When I lived out of state, the first thing I did when I returned to the city was to ask the cab driver, or family member to tune into to 93.1. I barely said hello. When I lived downstate, I was usually between 65 to 50 miles south of the city when I could catch the signal. Today when I visit my sister in Springfield, and I am heading South and XRT fades to static, I start This American Life, my all time favorite podcast. And the reverse holds true for the way home.
Without dating myself, it’s fair to say that I have been a loyal listener for more than half of my life. In fact, some years ago when I managed an advertising budget, and the saleswoman from CBS learned I was an XRT fan, she had Lin Brehmer make a YouTube singing me a song about what a great fan I was. I wish I could find it. She made the sale.
My fondness for XRT grew recently. Last weekend, was an #AllVinylSaturday on XRT. What a gift. What a great flashback. Remember when you used to just listen? Placing the needle on the vinyl, popping the tape cassette or compact disc into the stereo, and kicking back and listening, wow, I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Thanks to XRT on Saturday, I listened. And man did I love it. It was easier to kick back than normal because I was wiped out after giving all three dogs baths. When I was hauling wet dog towels to the laundry I heard a familiar transition between songs. My ears piqued. What was it? Joshua Tree. Trip Through Your Wires seamlessly led into One Tree Hill, and so on and so on. The whole album is like that. One song building from the last.
I’m listening to it right now.
“Scorched the Earth, set fire to the sky, we steep so low to reach so high.” Red Hill Mining Town, U2, Joshua Tree.
When was the last time you stopped to listen? Really listen. Listen to a person? Listen to a song’s lyrics? Saturday, listening to Joshua Tree I was taken back to early morning rides in the van when we’d be headed down Western Avenue toward 71st Street. My mom would pop U2 into the cassette player. I thought I had the coolest mom in the world. More than likely, I think she probably just wanted ten minutes of peace and quiet before she dropped us off at Maria High School. We gave it to her.
XRT helped make Saturday a perfect day.
I spent Saturday listening to full sides of albums from Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Traffic, and more. It was a #PerfectSaturday.
XRT inspired me. On Sunday, as I readied the dogs for a walk, instead of streaming some mix from Google Play, and putting my earbuds in, I played Becks’s Odelay in its entirety and streamed the music from my pocket. The dogs and I walked and jammed through the streets of Glen Ellyn. On Tuesday we did it again, the Beatles provided background music for us with Abbey Road, and today it was Death Cab for Cutie’s Narrow Stairs.
XRT’s #AllVinylSaturday reminded me of the beauty of the record album. The reason why an artist makes an album is the same as me making a photo album. It’s a collection. There’s a theme. A common thread that runs through it. And listening to an album in its totality, you can fully appreciate the breadth of the artist’s talent. What a gift.
In our busy lives, we breathe in snippets. Stopping here, going there, rarely just parking and soaking life in. XRT gave us a great lesson on Saturday. I’m so happy I parked and listened. I’m loving my music filled walks, listening to albums I never took the time to hear in their entirety, connecting singles to their full litany of songs, the volume not overpowering the squawking ravens, or chatty squirrels, and just loud enough to keep the dogs and me moving, or as Marty Lennartz tweeted, grooving.