I love oldies music. I know oldies music better than most people from my generation. Oldies songs come on the radio that I swear I’ve never heard before, yet somehow I know every single word. When CDs started showing up in our house, I would choose the 50’s collections over the 80’s collections. And when we sang “Rock Around the Clock” in fifth grade, I was absolutely the kid who belted it louder than anyone else, because I was COOL and KNEW THAT SONG ALREADY.
This can be explained very easily. One of my earliest fully formed memories is of visiting my dad at the radio station he worked for, either to bring him dinner, or just to say hello and watch him talk into the microphone, on the other end of which thousands of dedicated music lovers were listening to him and his own Oldies Show, “Magic Oldies Magazine.” My dad, Greg Murin, was a DJ.
He started at Marist College while he was still in undergrad, doing shows for the student radio station. Then he became a middle school biology teacher, and fell away from it for a while. About 15 years later, he was looking into applying to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting to take up DJing again on the side, when Putnam County Radio in New York asked him to come work for them instead. He started with a Sunday morning show, also worked in sports broadcasting, and eventually worked his way up to his own Saturday night show, the aforementioned “Magic Oldies Magazine.”
It was a show that he could create himself and had free reign over. He used to say, “If it’s two years old, it’s golden.” So because an oldie could be anything from 1955 up until two years before, it appealed to a much wider audience. He would have a featured artist every week and play highlights from their career, and he also liked to get creative and employ themes. For example, he would play only songs that had a color in the title, or songs about rain, etc. He didn’t do it for the money: according to him, being a DJ has always paid terribly and still does. He did it because he loved music so much, and still does.
Eventually he had to stop because he was taking on more responsibility at school and coaching various sports teams (seriously, my dad can do ANYTHING), but he would still fill in every now and then. When I asked if he would ever get back into it now that he’s retired, he said, “Only if I win the lottery and can buy my own station. And I would do a real Music Lovers’ Station, where I may play a Broadway song, and then an oldie, and then something more current. There’s nothing like that out there now.”
Among his favorite songs of all time? “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” but the Turtles version, not the Dylan version. “The Pied Piper,” a little known song by Crispian St. Peters. “Elusive Butterfly,” another obscure song by Bob Lind, which is pretty fantastic (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5mD_loFlfg). “Your Song,” by Elton John. And, of course, “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” by Elvis Presley, which happens to be my parents’ wedding song.
He absolutely loves his iPod, and finds himself still downloading older music that he remembers from when he was a kid. But he does switch on the Top 40 satellite radio station every so often to listen for a few days and see if anything strikes him. Among his current favorites are Andy Grammer, and “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. That last one shocked me, and then I realized once again that my dad is really freaking cool.
He’s not one of those people who looks down on new music because he’s stuck in the past. He recognizes really great song structure, and has been immersed in some of the best music in the country for his entire life. The only thing he doesn’t consider music is rap. But here’s why: “I don’t consider rap ‘music.’ I consider it poetry. It’s artistic, but it doesn’t have a melody and so I can’t think of it as music. It is poetry, however.”
Kind of brilliant, right? I owe so much to both of my parents for introducing me to theatre and musicals at a very early age, and to my dad for making sure my musical vocabulary was vast and comprehensive. My dad was a DJ because he was passionate about it. Not only did he show me music, but he showed me that it’s okay to do what you love, even when the only thing you’re getting in return is happiness. I love you, Dad.