Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maybe I'm Headed Over The Hill, Maybe I've Set Myself Up For The Kill: Turn It Up With Amy Wilson

If you have enjoyed accompanying me these past few months on this ongoing odyssey of pop music and life,

I hope you will consider sometimes tuning in to my new radio show, Turn It Up With Amy Wilson, which is broadcast on WCBN-FM-Ann Arbor late Tuesday nights 3am-6am Eastern Daylight Time. You can listen to it at 88.3 FM with your old-fashioned radio or at wcbn.org with your new-fashioned radio.

Turn It Up with Amy Wilson has no particular theme or message, just the hope of sharing interesting music with anybody (un)fortunate enough to be awake at those unusual hours.


The song: Billy Joel, "I Go To Extremes"; 1989

Before I knew who Billy Joel was, before I knew who I was (these things are related somehow), I loved this song.

As an adult I understand that what Billy Joel finds "extreme" is probably, well, not. In another of this sub-genre, "You May Be Right", his examples of Extremely Crazy Behavior include walking to Bedford-Stuy alone and riding his motorcycle in the rain. (gasp!)

Because let's face it, Billy Joel is an anxious awkward Jewish nerd who wants to please almost as deeply as he wants to be taken seriously as a musician.

And what's remarkable to me about him is the lethal combination of his extraordinary clarity and honesty coupled with the lack of self-awareness that allows him to throw the full weight of pop music behind lines like "when you love someone, you're always insecure".

Obviously Billy Joel is one of those people for whom the world is just calibrated differently. And so when he says he goes to extremes, I believe him, although I know in reality his version of extreme is probably pretty moderate all things considered. His crazy is an anxious crazy, a self-directed crazy, a crazy that allows him to appear mostly normal but that obviously consumes him in some way.

But it just might be a lunatic you're looking for!


Turn It Up with Amy Wilson.

Because when it comes to music, the greatest endorsement we have as listeners is the volume knob. To turn it up is to say yes, I like this, I get this, I want to feel this more intensely. It's a compliment not only to the artist but to whoever you are physically with at the time--an invitation to abandon conversation and to share the visceral experience of good music.

The image that always comes to my mind is of a dive bar, a juke-box, and "Welcome To The Jungle" starts playing and some drunken asshole shouts "turn it UP!" and everyone rolls their eyes but they're secretly grateful because it's a dive bar, it's "Welcome to the Jungle", and it's probably more fun than whatever they were talking about at the time.

It's an excuse to enjoy. We probably shouldn't need that, but sometimes we do.

So I hope that sometime you will find yourself listening to my show. (It probably won't always be 3am-6am.) And I hope that if you like it, you will turn it up.