No, not MacDonald's. I'm talking about the return of "oldies" radio to the New York metropolitan area.
WCBS 101.1FM was "the" oldies station in our area for years. All the old DJ's from the hit AM radio station I grew up with, 77 WABC (now talk radio), migrated over to 101.1 and lived on throughout the later 70's, the 80's, 90's and beginning of the 00's. Cousin "Brucie" Morrow, Harry Harrison, and more, continued to play the music my generation grew up with.
I didn't always listen to it; sometimes they played a little too much of the 50's music that I wasn't as fond of. I alternated between CBS and an eclectic mix of classic rock and public radio stations that featured folk and alternative music.
But I always knew CBS was there like an old friend, and all I had to do is switch to 101.1 and I'd hear the voices I grew up listening to, and the music that was the background to my youth.
Then one day about 2 years ago, it changed. CBS abruptly switched over to a format called "Jack." With no DJ's, no call-ins, no personality, the station was playing a mixture of music types that I couldn't even describe. It wasn't offensive or hard on the ears; it just did nothing for me.
I occasionally read about CBS and how its new format was faring. I read how their ratings were sinking, and I kept thinking what a mistake they had made. But it didn't occur to me they would actually bring back the old format.
I listen to their sister AM station, CBS 88 Newsradio, and one day I heard them announcing that 101.1 was switching back to oldies as of that Thursday, July 12! So, on that day, I switched on CBS 101.1, and lo and behold, the oldies were back, and even better than before! Gone was the 50's doo-wop music. The format is now 60's, 70's and 80's - the exact timeframe that fits my age group!
Now I hear my favorite songs as I'm driving to work. It's amazing how a song can bring back memories. Proust may have had his madeleines that sparked his recall of an entire thousand-page tome of memories. I have "Hang on Sloopy", "Summer Breeze" and "I Think We're Alone Now."
"Hang on Sloopy" was my favorite song back in 1965 when I was about 12. I remember dancing to it at a school dance in 7th grade. I think I may have had the 45 (remember 45's?) but I don't know what happened to it.
"I Think We're Alone Now," by Tommy James and the Shondells, came out in 1967, but to me it will always make me think of the Summer of '71 when two of my friends and I rode around in a '57 Chevy (I kid you not) with two older guys. The one who owned the car had an 8-track tape player and had the tape of the group's greatest hits. All I have to do is hear "I Think We're Alone Now," "Sweet Cherry Wine," or "Mirage," and I'm back in that old car careening around the New Jersey suburbs on a hot summer night with my friends and these guys.
"Summer Breeze" was a big hit back in 1972 when I was in college. Everyone had the album and I remember lying out on a blanket in the "quad" in the May sunshine along with everyone else, studying for exams. Someone would put on Seals & Crofts' album in their dorm room with the window open and the speakers blasting the music out over the quad while we all tried to get some sun, slathered with baby oil, while studying at the same time.
Almost every song from that era can trigger a specific time and place to me. Although they say smell is the one sense that triggers memories more than any other, I think music must be a close second.
Ironically, shortly after I wrote the above post, I happened upon this article, which explains the reasons behind why our favorite songs are the ones we learn during our youth.
Apparently, research shows that the human brain is at its peak from age 16-21 and absorbs new experiences best at this age. So now we know why we all have such fond memories of the songs of our teen and young adult years!