Wednesday, January 31, 2007

EZer Times

When I was a kid, I used to spend part of my summers up at my grandparent’s cottage on a lake in Ontario. It was an 8 hour drive to get there… 8 hours in the big green American sedan, just my grandparents and me. 8 hours of listening to my grandfather’s radio stations.

If nothing else, he was very consistent with his musical tastes.

For the first hour, we would listen to this city’s easy listening station, EZ101. For those of you too young to remember, EZ listening was elevator music. Popular tunes, played Lawrence Welk style. For a teenager, EZ listening was similar to having a bug gnawing through your brain.

After an hour in the car, the station’s signal would begin to fade. That was not a problem for my well organized grandfather. He would just hit the next button on his radio and we’d be tuned into the next region’s EZ station.

So it continued for 8 hours. Once one station was out of range, he’d tune in the next.

Then, when we got to the lake, he would tune, no, lock the house radio to CFMO Radio "The Songs of Our Times."

Most kids were rockin’ out during the summer. I was listening to Ray Conniff, The Hollyridge Strings, Sergio Mendes… and of course, Mantovani.

My first Walkman was the greatest gift of my life. For the first time, I could listen to what I wanted.

Of course, the Walkman is gone. Instead I have my 60 gig Ipod, with 5000 songs on it.

When my friend Lemon Gloria asked today whether readers have embarrassing selections on their MP3 players, I had a confession.

I have an EZ Listening playlist.

Paul Mauriat’s Love Is Blue; Frank Mills’ Music Box Dancer; Hot Butter’s Popcorn; and a sitar version of The Who’s I Can See For Miles.

Individually, each song is, well, perhaps wretched. As a group, the music reminds me of the smell of the cabin, the sound of the wind, and summers where my biggest stress was what kind of music to listen to.

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