Some people call me a control freak, and mostly that’s true. But sometimes, you just have to surrender to the things you can’t control. The last edition of Mistress of the Mix was a perfect example of that, when certain events completely out of my realm of control (like the rumored ending of the world), pre-empted my originally scheduled column for December 21st for one that was more appropriate to all that breaking news of the day.
But now that’s all over, we’ve had a couple of amazing holidays since then. Even the fiscal cliff didn’t happen (which was far more likely, in my opinion, than the Mayans correctly predicting the end of the world). So I guess it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming, and my favorite story about the lack of light.December 21st. The Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year. The one really great thing about the shortest day is that every day after that (for the next 364 days) is longer. Aaaah, more sunlight…the stuff that makes Redding the 3rd sunniest spot in the nation. I can never get enough of it, perhaps because I was deprived of it for so long.
During my 13 years in Petersburg, Alaska, there wasn’t a whole lot of sun. And in the winter, not a whole lot of light. To the best of my recollection, around the Winter Solstice, it was total darkness until 9am, and became total darkness again around 3. So dark that you’d think it was 3am if you didn’t know better. The lack of sunlight, by the way, can wreak some serious havoc with some people. You’ve probably heard of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which can exhibit itself during the winter months with serious mood changes, depression, lack of energy, and a tendency to sleep much more than usual…symptoms that might explain the following story about a particularly dark Winter day in Alaska.
One mid-December afternoon I was toiling away at the community public radio station, when I got a phone call from Ken. Ken didn’t offer his name, but I knew who it was. It was a little town, and after awhile not only do you get to know pretty much everyone (and their bidness), but you also get to recognize their voices. So when I got a phone call from the grouchy night watchman at the cannery who lived in the apartment across the hall from my friend Rachel, I knew it was him even though he didn’t identify himself.
Particularly grouchy this time, he just launched into a tirade that started off with “I can’t believe I actually got someone on the phone. Usually when I call to tell you numbskulls that you’ve screwed up your programming, nobody even answers the phone.”(I’m cleaning up his language a little bit here, but you get the drift.)
Ken was hopping mad that KFSK (the only radio station on the FM band in those parts) was airing something that he equated with a substance normally excreted out of the human body with the assistance of a toilet. He was referring to the country music program on the air at that moment; a program that I hosted for many years. And he was right, some of that music was total crap, but we were a station that was saddled with being everything to all people. Depending on what day and what time you were tuning in, you might hear light rock or heavy metal, new age or new wave, a Lawrence Welk polka, Handel’s Water Music, the crooning of Dean Martin or someone reading a book over the air. And of course there was country, every afternoon from 2:30 to 4pm. Sprinkled within was news….from the BBC, the CBC, NPR and the Christian Science Monitor. We tried to cover it all. A little something for everyone.
I was polite. Perhaps more polite than I should’ve been, since Ken was ranting and cussing up a storm, yelling about how incompetent the station was because it couldn’t even get the right program on at the right time of day, what the hell was wrong with us, and why couldn’t we just get it right, and he was fed up with it. That kind of stuff. I just sighed, and let him continue his haranguing while I stared out the window into the pitch black darkness of a December afternoon.
When he finally took a breath, I said, “Uh, Ken? Do you know what time it is?”
A little after 3, he said. News time, he said.
Ayup, said I. And at 3am every day, we air news from the BBC.
That made sense to Ken. That’s what he was expecting to hear, so why were we airing all this country music crap instead?
“Because it’s 3pm, Ken.”
Sometimes I get a little cranky in the winter, just like Ken. There are ways to help alleviate the symptoms, by the way. Light therapy is one. Several of my friends had light boxes in their homes, and even the community mental health clinic had one that anyone could go use. Melatonin therapy is another way, but probably the best thing to do is get thyself to somewhere with more light. And that’s just what today’s playlist is designed to do…shed a little light on the topic of light. I dedicate this Grooveshark playlist to you Ken, and here’s hoping you’re sunning yourself somewhere down in Australia right about now.
This streaming playlist should play when you click on the play button below, or check it out directly at Grooveshark.
- Lights – Grasscut One of my new favorite songs
- Turn The Lights On – Big Sugar
- Turn Out The Light – Nelly Furtado
- Bright Lights – Cee-Lo
- Daylight – Coldplay
- Light Me Up – Ween
- Put Your Lights On – Carlos Santana
- Turn All The Lights On – Oi Va Voy
- Spotlight – Mute Math Once more I tip my hat to my daughter for turning me onto this band
- Starlight – Muse
- Lights – Ellie Goulding I could go for the next six months without hearing this overplayed song again, but I couldn’t not include it in today’s playlist.
- Blinded By The Light – Manfred Mann This song is a hint of things to come! Did you know this is a cover song from a much less famous version by a much more famous star?
- Lights – Bruno Mars
- Light It Up – Bootsy Collins
- Keep The Lights On – Wave Machines
- Lights – Journey
- Blue Light – Mazzy Star
- Northern Lights – Cider Sky
- You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone One of the first songs I learned how to play on the piano (after Beethoven and Chopin) and it surprised me that I can still belt out the words to this after more than 30 years.
- Out Go The Lights – Spoon
- Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights – Little Walter
- Turn On All The Lights – Leon & Eric Bibb
- Bright Lights Big City – The Rolling Stones
- Bright Lights – Matchbox Twenty
- Lit Up – Buckcherry
- Hit The Lights – Selena Gomez & The Scene
She’s often spotted driving around town singing at the top of her lungs to new wave hits from the 80’s, but at work Valerie hosts the afternoon classical show Siskiyou Music Hall (at 90.9 FM in Shasta County or streaming at ijpr.org).