Songs by Ray Charles and others among those underplayed


Even in an era when oldies radio stations are plentiful, in some parts of the country, some of those stations have playlists that are arguably lacking. Some artists who are, without question, classic,  or even legendary, are still left off some oldies stations’ playlists.

Performers that range from Ray Charles to Oingo Boingo are neglected on a number of radio playlists. Sure, there is research and other factors that determine when certain songs get played, but it would seem that certain legendary artists would have a place carved for them already by virtue of their status.

What follows is a very short list of performers that should be included more often on radio playlists. Even though listeners depend more often high-tech options to discover and re-discover music, in the rare cases when a person finds him or herself listening to the radio, the radio fare should be varied and interesting to a range of listeners.

1. Ray Charles, “Night and Day”

The saxophone riff alone makes the song worth hearing. Next to that is the showcase of Margie’s voice. Her larynx- and diaphragm-splitting vocals remain unparalleled. The ribald romance of the song helps to capture an era and a mood. The mix of Charles’ voice with the harmonies of the backing trio is also classic. There are no good reasons not to play this song on oldies stations, or r&b stations with a sense of history.

2. Oingo Boingo, “Skin”

The deep-voiced vocals, the dark poetry, and the nuanced bass that could almost be called beautiful, this song is a rare gem in the canon of post-punk classics. The lyrics indicate a potential identity crisis, and they are accented by almost understated backing vocals. Synthesizers take on a chime quality, and the sound sets atop the bass. The entire song takes on a haunted quality.

3.  Sniff ‘n’ the Tears, “Driver’s Seat”

A solid rock hit from 1979, “Driver’s Seat” is absolutely one of a kind. The cool, yet aggrieved guitar riff hasn’t been replicated effectively in the nearly 40 years since the song’s release. The stylized drum tattoo also helps to make the song unique. A song about control, and getting in-step with the beat make the song easy to sing.

Tastes in music vary from market to market and from person to person. However, it is still possible for good songs to get overlooked by radio stations, and thus depriving the listening public. The three songs listed here are just the beginning of the list of overlooked songs.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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