As far as musical taste goes, I’m a confirmed fogey. I hear lots of stuff of undetermined recent vintage I like. But unless I hear a new song 98 times or can ask my family expert on such matters (Thom), I don’t know who’s playing, whether they’re a big name or not, or what the heck the lyrics are. Sometimes I catch on to someone, like Kurt Cobain or Elliott Smith (or in a different vein, Susannah McCorkle), well after they’re dead of self-inflicted injuries.
All of which is preamble to a burst of enthusiasm for a daily oldie experience on San Francisco’s KFOG-FM. The station often grates with its insistence on going back to the standards (I just hear “Touch Me” by The Doors for the second time today; KFOG would do itself, its listeners and the memory of Jim Morrison a big favor by losing that track for about 15 years or forever, whichever comes later). But day to day, one of the station’s old standbys continues to surprise and please: 10@10.
The format has been pretty much the same for decades: Each day at 10 a.m. (Pacific time), the station plays a pre-produced selection of 10 songs from a single year chosen probably not at random from the prior 40 years or so (the emphasis is on mid-60s through mid-80s, the prime boomer cum fogey era). The selection of songs isn’t earth-shatteringly original, but it’s usually a couple cuts above what the station’s standard playlist inflicts on the audience.
But the money part of 10@10 comes with the period clips — snatches of news stories, speeches and advertisements — that the producers mix in to the music (I’ve come to assume that the DJ who intros the show, Dave Morey, also has a major part in producing it). It helps a lot to have the framework for the snippets in mind, but at their best, “10@10” is sort of a history mini-lesson. The occasion for holding forth on this show, which I’ve listened to for years without feeling the need to comment, was today’s edition. At a listener’s request, it toured 1968 (among the songs played, The Band’s “Chest Fever,” which ain’t on anyone’s playlist anywhere). The middle of the set was the Chambers Brothers “Time Has Come Today,” which the show used as a vehicle for a news tour of the year from beginning to end. It was extraordinarily well done; if you’re inclined to take my word for that and want to listen, it will be replayed Saturday morning (not sure what time, but I’m guessing sometime around 9 a.m. PT/11 a.m. CT).