Songs About the Music Business

Here are three songs recounting the simple joys of life under contract with a major label. Turns out to be a popular lyric theme during this era. All of these songs feature fantastic guitar work. We’ll dig into a few of those parts later. But for now, enjoy three great songs from the ’70s. All on the ‘KZEW 98 FM’ playlist on Spotify.

Pink Floyd – Have a Cigar


Joni Mitchell – Free Man in Paris

The POV in this lyric hinges around the sixth and seventh words, ‘he said.’ Except for this phrase, the rest of the lyric is in quotation marks.


Lynyrd Skynyrd – Workin’ For MCA

A Great Virtual Station on Spotify – KNUS 98.7 FM Dallas

The first of two new virtual radio stations on Spotify.

The ‘stations’ are recreations of playlists from two Dallas radio stations from the late 1960s through the late ’70s. This is classic rock radio as it really was. These playlists are intended as entertainment, but they’re also historical documents, if based only on my personal recollection.

The Spotify playlist ‘KNUS 98.7 FM DALLAS’ includes music played on the legendary mixed-format station, and spans the years 1968 to 1973. It has more than 380 songs.

KNUS covers the era of the supergroups. The Beatles were the backbone of KNUS’s playlist. They also featured the Doors, Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Allman Bros, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Badfinger, Free, Cream, Blind Faith, Traffic, Crosby Still Nash & Young, and Jefferson Airplane, to name a few. Probably 80% of KNUS’s airtime was divided between only about 45 bands.

Dallasites from that time remember KNUS as a psychadelic and hard rock station. True enough. But they forget how jazzy it was. Right next to Deep Purple, the James Gang and Mountain, was amazing new music from Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, and Brian Auger. And new music from old-school jazzers like Miles, Dave Brubeck and Yusef Lateef’s Detriot.

At still other times, the mood is calm, etheral, contemplative. Like Don McLean’s Vincent, Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic, or Alice Coltrane’s (John’s wife) manic harp strums on her Huntington Ashram Monestary album.

KNUS often included entire albums in their playlists. This is a testament to the strength of some of the albums released at the time. This was before the era when record companies instituted ‘one-hit-per-album’ rules.

A lot of this music was not very well recorded. They just didn’t have the techonolgy at the time. There are a few terrible bass guitar tones on these tracks, because it was really hard to find good bass strings back then. Some problems were just due to carelessness. What about the ‘dropout’ in the guitar track in the opening of Smoke On The Water? Or the crummy upright piano they used to record Colour My World, after the great engineering on Chicago Transit Authority? A lot of great music didn’t make the cut in today’s classic rock radio market because of poor engineering. But in recent years, a lot of those old records have been remastered, and many of them sound better as a result.

There are practically no women artists in this list. Fleetwood Mac was still being fronted by Bob Welch. Linda Ronstadt was still learning the ropes as a solo artist, just out of the Stone Ponies. There was the single hit from Smith. Carole King and Carly Simon each had three of four hits, Judy Collins with her one big crossover hit (Someday Soon), and that was just about it.

The real KNUS included AM radio hits from the ’60s, and occasional bubblegum hits, especially weekday mornings. I’ve excluded the AM hits. This playlist gives you the authentic flavor of the late-great KNUS on a typical afternoon or evening.

More later on the story of KNUS, its importance in radio history, and it’s (sorry to keep repeating this word) legendary creator, ‘The Maverick of Radio,’ and a personal hero of mine, Gordon McLendon.

KNUS 98.7 FM DALLAS Playlist on Spotify

This embedded playlist has only 200 songs. There are more than 380 songs in this playlist if you go on Spotify. If you don’t have the app, just check out the 30 second clips. It’s a great way to sample the flavors of this incredible station from the past.

You can also find KNUS playlists at the HoustonGuitar channel on Youtube.

KNUS Playlist – Part 1 (Skip the first video – don’t shuffle – complete albums at the end of the list)

KNUS Playlist РPart 2  (Cool to shuffle)

Another Spotify playlist, ‘KZEW 98 FM DALLAS’ is comprised of music from the legendary successor to KNUS. “The Zoo” playlist covers the years 1973 to 1978. The real KZEW was around in one form or another until 1989. I chose ’78 as a cutoff point because ’78, give or take, is another stylistic turning point in rock. More about the Zoo playlist another time.

The real KZEW included a lot of songs from the KNUS playlist. To preserve the unique character of each playlist, I have excluded KNUS songs from the KZEW playlist.

 

It Doesn’t Matter – Manassas Live from 1972

A live performance of It Doesn’t Matter, originally released on their 1972 debut album. The first Manassas album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard chart, and was certified Gold (500k+ copies).

Falling and spinning Losing and winning  Keeping my head
Watching for signals Wearisome vigil Was I mislead
I remember you said That you don’t want to forget me
It doesn’t matter Which of our fantasies fail
Every tomorrow Looking tomorrow A piece of today
Run a bit faster Here comes the catcher Making his play
You had better not stay You will soon be surrounded
It doesn’t matter Which of our fantasies stay
Lonely and winsome calling For someone living right now
Something is shallow ugly and hollow Doesn’t even allow you to want to know how You might live for the living Give for the giving
moment by moment One day at a time
It doesn’t matter It’s nothing but dreaming anyhow