Radio replayed

Jul 17th, 2012 | By | Category: Pop thinking

Intending to spend the evening in the company of 30,000 others, standing on a rugby pitch in the damp air of an Irish summer to watch the East Street Band play, there will be no time for writing. Looking at thoughts written after the last visit to Dublin by Mr Springsteen, there is a hope that tonight might strike different chords!

“Radio always had an air of mystery about it. Perhaps it was the sight of lines and lines of masts during childhood days, built to listen to signals from who knows where. Perhaps it was pictures of the listening stations at Goonhilly Downs; the name itself enough to strike uncertainty into a youthful mind. Perhaps it was turning the dial through the wavebands on dark English winter nights, the fizz and crackle of static; the rise and fall of the reception of stations that appeared and as quickly disappeared, unable to be recovered, no matter how many times the dial was turned backwards and forwards.

Radio was not reassuring in the way that television could be, it was remote and impersonal and almost intimidating. Television always came from somewhere known, somewhere identifiable; in Somerset it was from London or Bristol or Plymouth. Radio was altogether more anonymous; it could be local, or it be somewhere on the other side of the world. During Communist days, Radio Moscow used to broadcast to England with its own very distinctive view of the world.

Radio could be almost sinister at times. Many of the masts and the dishes dotted across England were not there for entertainment; they were there for intelligence purposes. They were there to listen for the ever present threat of attack by the Warsaw Bloc; they were there to warn us that nuclear destruction was imminent.

Perhaps it was the association of radio with the threat of being blown to kingdom come that gave radio its darkly menacing quality. But perhaps there was something more to it, as well.

Late night radio seemed always to have a feeling of isolation and loneliness. When loneliness was the thing most feared, the radio seemed to say, ‘You’re alone. You’re out of touch. There is no-one there for you. There is not another soul to communicate with you’.

Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Radio Nowhere’, played at the concert at Dublin’s RDS last night, with accompanying images of lines of masts, seemed to gather up a whole mess of childhood thoughts and fears:

I was trying to find my way home,
But all I heard was a drone.
Bouncin’ off a satellite
Crushing the last long American night.

This is radio nowhere.
Is there anybody alive out there?
This is radio nowhere.
Is there anybody alive out there?

I was sitting around a dirt dial
Just another lost number in a file.
Been in some kinda dark cove
Just searching for a world with some soul.

This is radio nowhere.
Is there anybody alive out there?
This is radio nowhere.
Is there anybody alive out there?
Is there anybody alive out there?

It is odd how unlikely things can allow a confrontation with a lifetime of fears”.

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  1. David is going to Concert tonight and tomorrow. It seems fine here at the moment – so fingers crossed!!! Enjoy

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