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September 23, 1988 - Image 72

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-09-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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64

Rock and Roll

Continued from preceding page

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 1988

and roll would be an in-
teresting listening concept."
Shapiro took that often
meaningless phrase seriously.
While at NYU Shaprio had
enjoyed a local conceptual jazz
show. That program planted a
seed in his mind. "I felt that
the same sort of an approach
to rock and roll would be an
interesting listening con-
cept."
Shapiro pitched the idea of
an "intelligent" rock radio
show to KCUR in 1978. The
station accepted it and
"Cyprus Avenue," named
after a song by rock star Van
Morrison, was born.
The show, picked up from
the Kansas City station by
Detroit public station WDET
last year, runs locally from 1
to 2 p.m. on Fridays. It
features a different theme
each week. His themes have
included Motown, Bob Dylan,
the British invasion of the
1960s, and, frequently, new
music which has not made its
way into the restrictive world
of commercial radio.
"It's a hobby, it's an avoca-
tion," says Shapiro of his
show. "All the time I've spent
putting it together is purely
volunteer time on my part. In
fact, the show is available na-
tionally because I, out of my
own pocket, pay the cost of
getting it up on the NPR
satellite, which makes it
available to the (40) stations
across the country which
carry it" at no charge.
"I am hoping that with the
passage of time I will build a
big enough group of carrying
stations that I can induce
some kind of a national
underwriter to pick up the
cost of the air time."
The Andrews and McMeel
publishing company needed
no inducement to work with
Shapiro. They contacted him
to do a book about rock and
roll on compact discs. The
book reviews the rock music
available on CD. "I basically
went out and acquired a little
more than 500 CDs to use as
the body of the book," he ex-
plains. "So there went my
publisher's advance real
fast!"
Just as he included the CDs
of his choice in the book,
Shapiro enjoys he freedom to
play whatever he wants to on
his radio show. "That's one of
the reasons why I love it," he
explains. "As long as I don't
say any of the nasty words,
and as long as I don't try to
hype any kind of product, I
have total autonomy as to
what I do."
Shapiro often uses that
autonomy to introduce his
listeners to bands they might
not hear on commercial rock
radio. "I'm a great fan of

Prince's music," he says. "I
think he's probably the most
creative guy out there right
now in a lot of ways. I like
Terence Trent D'Arby a whole
bunch. Among the lesser-
known acts I'm very impress-
ed with a guy named John
Hiatt, who brought out a
wonderful record last year
called 'Bring the Family' and
has a brand new one due out
any day now. I like REM. I
think they're a very creative
band. And I like U2 and a lot
of the name bands today. I
still think there's good music
being made. It's just that it's
fewer and further between."
The 1960s were rock's

By the early 1970s
the music industry
woke up to the
fact that this was
a multi-billion-
dollar-a-year
business as kids
became more
affluent.

golden decade, that being a
time of protest and ex-
perimenation. As the nation
moved into the "me decade"
of the 1970s, money took over
the world of rock and roll.
"The money in the last 15,
18 years has been the worst
thing that's happened to the
business," says Shapiro. "I
guess it's inevitable in the
kind of world in which we
live.
"By the early 1970s two
things happened. Number
one, the music industry woke
up to the fact that this was a
multi-billion-dollar-a-year
business as kids became more
affluent and had more
disposable income and they
were disposing of it on
records. And secondly, about
that time we moved into the
conglomerization, where
businesses got bigger and to-
day, unfortunately, you've got
rock acts sort of going out on
the stage with banners
behind them provided by
Miller beer or Budweiser or
Coca-Cola. And that is just
antithetical to what rock was
all about in the first place. To-
day it's more marketing than
music."
"I'd like to see more concern
with the music and less with
marketing. I'd like to see ar-
tists given the opportunity to
express what they want to
say, more so than the kids to-
day who are going into it
with, very definitely, dollar
signs in their eyes. I've talk-
ed to kids over the years who
are hoping to get a break in-
to music and instead of talk-

ing about what they want to
say, the message they want to
deliver, they're telling me
about how good-looking they
are and what great names
they have and how they've got
these super costumes. It's
really become a very commer-
cial enterprise," he concludes
with disappointment in his
voice.
As much as rock has chang-
ed since 1970, many feel it
has produced even greater
change in Western society
since the 1950s. While
Shapiro is not certain
whether rock has caused or
reflected societal change, he
says rock "certainly has led to
a unity in the youth culture,
or did at that time — it
established a youth culture as
something separate with its
own music and its own values
and ultimately, of course, that
led to its own films — the first
of which was probably
Blackboard Jungle, that used
the Bill Haley and the Com-
ets song, "Rock Around the
Clock," — and that sort of
thing, of course, ultimately,
over the years, has grown in-
to the major marketing con-
cept in America."
That fact has little impact
on many public radio pro-
grammers. "It's tough to sell
public radio on the idea of
rock and roll," says Shapiro.
"WDET is really kind of a
non-mainstream station in
that way. So often when you
talk to public radio peple they
say, 'Well, the other stations
in our market only play rock
and roll, so to serve the public
we're gonna play nothing but
jazz and classical? Which to
me just indicates that there's
a snobbery or a bias there,
because rock and roll is every
bit as legitimate an art form,
in my opinion, as jazz or folk
or classical. Presented the
way I try to present it,
anyway, I think it's valid on
public radio."
While many music lovers
would scoff at anyone using
the terms "rock and roll," and
"art form" in the same
sentence, Shapiro maintains
that much of the music which
flies under rock's banner is
art.
"Fifty years from today
when people look back at who
were the important artists of
the 20th century, I think that
a guy like Bob Dylan or the
Beatles, in terms of their im-
pact on society and their ex-
planation of the way the
world was, are going to stand
just as tall as the film direc-
tors, like John Huston, or the
novelists, like.-Ernest Hem-
ingway. I think that these
people have every bit as much
to say."
Shapiro is a divorced father

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