Most of what I do know comes from listening to The Arrow, one of a small number of rock channels available to us on digital radio. I thought there were only two - The Arrow and Planet Rock - but a slightly fuller search reveals Rock Radio is a wannabe-national network with an affiliate here in the North-East. The venerable magazine Kerrang! has its own station as well, come to think of it.
There may well be scads of other stations available as audio channels on digital television, plus plenty of channels available over the Internet, of course, but in practice I don't go out and think "oh, I feel like listening to some rock music" - it's more likely to be the case that it's something on in the background on a night shift at work, with The Arrow being a fairly uncontroversial middle ground default option that we'd frequently listen to overnight back at the power station. (It was also a station that we could receive reasonably clearly, which was a rarer commodity than you might imagine. I can't immediately conclude whether being in the middle of tonnes of metal and industry would have been a help or a hindrance in this regard.)
Accordingly, here are thirteen songs that get played on The Arrow every once in a while, that I have worked out that I like. Now I know people can get almost territorial about their music, or about their music genres, so I'm not going to claim that these are classic songs, or even that these necessarily are rock music. (I'm not even sure that these are necessarily my favourite songs - for instance, I need to think about songs on a CD Meg kindly made for me, and whether they count as rock or not.) However, The Arrow played 'em, and I liked 'em. In no particular order:
- Van Halen, "Jump" reminds me of this classic Flash movie about old arcade games. The big guitar solo is a highlight of both song and movie. The song's video can't be nearly as much to my taste as this.
- Supertramp, "Dreamer" often had a line or two of the chorus sung at the power station. An in-joke about steam turbines then followed. Even without that, it's still pleasantly ethereal.
- Meat Loaf, "Dead Ringer for Love" may strike the balance between grandiosity and tolerability best among ver Loaf's fairly ridiculous canon. For the longest time I thought the song concerned a dancing kangaroo, too. Sadly not.
- Red Hot Chilli Peppers, "The Zephyr Song" has rather fewer laughs to it than the others, but also some lovely vocal harmonies. Can't work out why it's about a zephyr and not a zither, though.
- REM, "Man On The Moon" is probably the only one of these to have featured in a gayparee lyric quiz. This scores tonnes of points for its subject matter and its sense of fun.
- Doobie Brothers, "Listen to the Music" - now I'm sure I was first introduced to this song by some sort of dance remix in, probably, the early '90s, and I'd love to hear that again if ever I could find it. The original is cute in its way, though.
- Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody", inevitably, again taking great benefit from its associations with a memorable film scene. It's fun to improvise lyrics to, very badly, as well.
- Foo Fighters, "Learn to Fly" is probably the best rock song I can think of to listen to on a transatlantic flight. I did this on several occasions when Meg and I were long-distance.
- Europe, "The Final Countdown" has a spectacular and very silly guitar section. I think this caught the imagination, at the time, of lots of very young people when it first came out, and I am no exception.
- The Who, "You Better You Bet" sounds like it ought to be by Meat Loaf to me, but in a good way. Maybe Meat Loaf on a very good day.
- Focus, "Sylvia" is a rare instrumental that got played on The Arrow and provided a really lovely change of pace. Given that The Arrow has no DJs announcing the songs and we can't get to the web site, finding out what this song actually was presented a real challenge.
- Ram Jam, "Black Betty" is politically very incorrect, I suspect, but I heard it first as an instrumental used for a chart countdown. (Some of you may know where.) Considering that I regard myself as liking guitars less than many, there are quite a few songs on here because of their guitar parts.
- The J. Gelis Band, (Angel in a) "Centerfold" is just plain silly fun for its singalong na-na-na line, plus has a self-indulgent false finish. One! More! Time!