Here’s another bad karma moment.
When I was at Connecticut College I had a radio show. I was on Sunday nights from midnight to 3:00 a.m. and I had a minimalist thing going: lots of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and whatever else I could find that was trance-y back in 1985 (Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins).
The art students loved me, I’d get calls from the painting studio at two in the morning thanking me for all the little butterflies I was sending through the airwaves, it was great music to zone out and paint to. I was also used to guys from the submarine base across the river calling up and hooting at me and asking me to play Jimi Hendrix or Deep Purple. I didn’t think twice about ignoring their requests — that kind of thing just didn’t fit in with the vibe of the show.
But one night this really tired-sounding woman called the studio. It seemed like it was a real effort for her to even talk to me, and she told me how she’d just finished fourteen hours of work and come home to an empty apartment, and it would really lift her spirits if I’d play John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero.” I felt sorry for her, but I was also a little annoyed with her — why was she calling me? Wasn’t she listening to the show, couldn’t she tell that I wasn’t playing stuff like that? John Lennon was just not going to fit into the gestalt of my sacred three hours of airtime. So like the spoiled little weasel I was, I ignored her request.
Now every time I hear that song I cringe inside for what I did.
Other fun things that happened at the radio station:
One night I decided to devote my entire show to playing Philip Glass’s epic opera “Einstein On the Beach.” About halfway through I got a call from a guy who just started yelling into the phone, “This is shit! This is SHIT! THIS IS SHIT!” The next day at lunch I was in the dining hall of my dorm when I overheard the antisocial nervous guy from my hall at the next table telling one of his pals, “. . . So I called up and yelled into the phone, ‘This is shit! This is shit!’ It was great!” I didn’t say anything, but I smiled on the inside.
Another time I got a call from someone with a really nasal voice telling me how much he liked my show and would I play this song or that song, who kept wanting to talk while I was putting records on and it was freaking me out because I needed to concentrate on what I was doing but I didn’t know how to politely hang up. Finally he started getting frustrated because I wasn’t getting the joke — it was my friend Brian calling from Ohio.