The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320


April 27, 2005

Late-night entertainment

I pity the children who never experienced the joy of listening to the poor-quality broadcasts of obscure AM radio stations late at night, which consist more of static than anything else. Some of my fonder early teenage memory consist of trying to tune in all kinds of radio stations from around the world with varying success. I remember trying to stay awake in bed one night until 3 a.m. so that I could listen to the famous Wolfman Jack on AFN. I fell asleep though. Then I tried to program a tape recorder to record it during the night, but there was nothing but static on the tape the next morning. And I also remember the number radio stations broadcasting obscure information to Russian spies worldwide, and me and my friends trying to decipher them without much success.

Back in the early 1980s, one of the more popular radio shows for teens started at 10:06 p.m., which was already past my bedtime, so I'd listen to it secretly, either with the volume very very low, or even under the blanket. Oddly, I don't remember much about that show or what exactly they broadcast, the usual chart toppers, I suppose.

What I do remember though was the show that followed immediately afterwards, from 11:05p.m. to midnight. It was called Musik zum Träumen ("music to dream by"), and it was just plain weird. In retrospect I now know that it was a mixture of orchestral easy listening stuff with a generous selection of jazz thrown in for good measure. I'd often keep the radio on for a while into that show just because it was unlike anything else I usually listened to. It was a slow kind of music, sometimes with what sounded like really strange instruments to me (it was a while until I learned about vibes and jazz guitar, let alone mellotrons or theremins), and I remember I found it spooky because it was so oddly unfamiliar. It was more like music to have nightmares by because the strange tunes seemed to reach sections of your subconscious that no other music could touch.

I kept a peculiar fondness for this kind of music. I still like some of those spooky late-night orchestral arragements, and there's nothing like a dose of mellow jazz late in the evening. Coming across jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery almost 30 years later was something of a revelation, as he seemed to be playing exactly that kind of music, only even more interesting — probably because my musical tastes had expanded so that I could appreciate jazz in the meantime.

Or had they? Oddly enough, the feeling whenever I listen to this music, whether it's Montgomery or some other jazz musician of the kind (although it works best with Montgomery, and perhaps the mellower Chet Baker), it's almost as if I get caught in a time warp, and whatever time it is, the clock suddenly seems to set itself to 11:05p.m. and no matter where I really am I seem to be transported to my old bed, and there I am, listening to that radio broadcast with the same kind of weird, slightly spooked fascination. And one day I realised that it's not that I learned to appreciate jazz at some point in my life, it's more that it spooked its way into my subconscious back then with the radio broadcast and simply worked its way from the inside out.

And it's not as if it forced itself in. There was always the "off" switch which I used a lot with other radio shows. No, I let it in willingly all the time without even knowing why.

Posted by Horst on April 27, 2005 09:40 PM to my so-called life | Tell-a-friend
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Comments
dd said on April 28, 2005 01:40 PM:

"musik zum träumen" was amazing. actually, in retrospect, a substantial part of the music I have been listening to for the last 20 years can be backtracked directly to two radio shows. one was "music box", the other was "musik zum träumen".
considering that these two shows were as opposite to each other as two radio shows could ever get, this seems rather amazing.

I miss the variety of old fm radio. until the late eighties, ö3 covered more different stuff than the whole landscape of private radios does today. what a pity.

Horst said on May 1, 2005 12:26 AM:

I just listened to a Chet Baker live CD I bought in Brussels, and it was _so_ like "Music zum Träumen" -- I felt like I was caught in a time warp. But it does explain my odd fascination with Chet Baker and Wes Montgomery.

nora said on May 1, 2005 09:29 PM:

me too, me too iniated into jazz; but for the heck of it i can't remember the name of the 'progressive' show that aired at 10, after the news. oh, i actually did right now: 'treffpunkt studio 4'.

Horst said on May 2, 2005 10:54 AM:

Who said anything about a "progressive" show? I said it was "a popular radio show for teens".

nora said on May 5, 2005 10:26 PM:

guess i got the decades mixed up. there was a point in time though when there was either a late music box or they re-aired it at night. or whatever. i hardly ever listen to the radio these days. miss it, kinda.

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