Connections. Arguably one of the top five non-fictional, science programs of all time, Connections was a stellar late-seventies BBC program about science and history and how seemingly unrelated events combined to get us to where we are today. Or in the case of its original broadcast, 1978. I became infatuated with this program in my teens or twenties when it began airing in syndication many years after its creation. It was obviously dated by then, but the stories still held up and the interwoven tales, not to mention unassuming host, were both fascinating and entertaining. Not bad for a grey-haired, balding Brit with large-rimmed spectacles talking about antiquated nerd stuff during the golden age of MTV.
I got to thinking about that show while contemplating this post. Music is a bit of a struggle for me these days. I don’t listen to very much new music anymore. Check that. I don’t listen to very much new music of my choice, anymore. Having two kids in the house developing their own musical tastes has relieved me of radio control. As it should be. I’m not a fan of their pop music but I love that they are finding their own musical path. Watching and listening to them, okay mostly the watching, bopping and singing along to their favourite songs is such a joy and takes me back to my own auditory awakening.
It also saddens be a bit seeing that joy of discovery. I’m in my mid-forties now, and there aren’t a lot of songs I like that I haven’t heard hundreds of times. I’ve always been primarily a “classic rock” fan but must admit I’ve grown weary of listening to the same songs a million times over. And very little new music interests me. At risk of remaining stuck in this silent void, I’ve begun dabbling in other genres a bit, hoping to find some “new” old songs to rekindle my listening passions. On this one occasion it actually happened and that’s where Connections comes in.
Two Christmases ago, we leapt into the modern age and ditched our retro stereo system for a tablet and Bluetooth speaker. The kids still wished to listen to their local pop stations, but we were having trouble getting smooth playback from their respective internet media players. A far more technologically literate than I friend told me about TuneIn, an internet radio service that enables you to connect to local radio feeds. Problem solved for my children’s listening desires, but more importantly, new options for my own. You see, TuneIn also makes it easy for you to connect to practically any radio station across the globe. Furthermore, it hosts myriad internet only radio programs including in-house playlists featuring every genre and niche imaginable.
As I’ve mentioned a few times in this series (like here and here), my childhood home was filled with the sounds of country and/or western music, so I immediately gravitated to the Vintage Country channel on TuneIn. The following weeks saw my days filled with the nostalgic sounds of country legends as I went about my daily chores whilst stuck in an aural time warp to when my mother was doing likewise and I played with toys, ate wieners daily, and wet the bed.
A few months later my in-laws were visiting. As has become tradition, once the kids were in bed we sat down for our nightly battle on the cribbage board; men vs women. For kicks, I turned on the tablet to the Vintage Country channel for some mood music during our play, much to the wistful pleasure of my in-laws. This trip through the past so inspired my wife’s father that at one point he spontaneously began serenading my wife’s mother in lock, albeit tone-deaf, step with Dolly Parton’s legendary “I Will Always Love You.” His was a cover best left unrecorded but it was nonetheless one of the greatest moments of my married life. Yes, I laughed! But it was also very sweet.
We would continue to listen to Vintage Country each night for the remainder of their visit, I secretly hoping another unscripted moment of romantic warbling would befall us. Sadly, it never happened but amongst all the well-known country classics, a few new-to-me gems by some less famous artists were heard. One of them I became particularly enamoured with. It, too, is a love song, though the object of affection is neither lover nor spouse. Actually, it’s not even human, yet beloved by many.
I thought I’d kick off the last weekend of 2017 with this newfound favourite song of mine. A song I discovered thanks to our purchase a tablet and my children’s desire to listen to pop music that wasn’t transmitting clearly via the station’s own web interface which led me to a friend who recommended TuneIn which solved the buffering issue while also exposing me to a vintage country internet station which brought make a flood of childhood memories, inspired a glorious moment of romance for my in-laws, and ultimately gave me a brand new favourite song. That’s how Connections works.
I hope you ring in the New Year safely but with great joy. May 2018 be rewarding for you and those you love. And may the hate and awfulness that so permeated 2017 begin its retreat back into the mold-infested crevasses from which it oozed far too readily this past year. What better way to begin the healing process than by enjoying a silly homage to the humble tomato. I wish you a hearty Happy New Year with help from “Homegrown Tomatoes” by Guy Clark from his 1983 studio album Better Days.
As Heard on TuneIn Version: