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Bruce Springsteen should be very happy. He has the No. 1 album, a possible Grammy for Best Album of the Year for "Magic," an album full of singles and a sold-out concert tour.
Alas, there’s a hitch: Radio will not play "Magic." In fact, sources say that Clear Channel has sent an edict to its classic rock stations not to play tracks from "Magic."
But it’s OK to play old Springsteen tracks such as "Dancing in the Dark," "Born to Run" and "Born in the USA."
Just no new songs by Springsteen, even though it’s likely many radio listeners already own the album and would like to hear it mixed in with the junk offered on radio.
Why? One theory, says a longtime rock insider, "is that the audience knows those songs. Of course, they’ll never know these songs if no one plays them."
"Magic," by the way, has sold more than 500,000 copies since its release on Oct. 2 and likely will hit the million mark. That’s not a small achievement these days, and one that should be embraced by Clear Channel.
But what a situation: The No. 1 album is not being played on any radio stations, according to Radio & Records, which monitors such things. Nothing. The rock songs aren’t on rock radio, and the two standout "mellow" tracks — "Magic" and "Devil’s Arcade" — aren’t even on "lite" stations.
The singles-kinda hits, "Radio Nowhere" and "Living in the Future" — which would have been hits no questions asked in the '70s, '80s and maybe even the '90s, also are absent from Top 40.
What to do? Columbia Records is said to be readying a remixed version of "The Girls in their Summer Clothes," a poppy Beach Boys-type track that has such a catchy hook fans were singing along to it at live shows before they had the album. Bruce insiders are hopeful that with a push from Sony, "Girls" will triumph.
I’m not so sure.
Clear Channel seems to have sent a clear message to other radio outlets that at age 58, Springsteen simply is too old to be played on rock stations. This completely absurd notion is one of many ways Clear Channel has done more to destroy the music business than downloading over the last 10 years. It’s certainly what’s helped create satellite radio, where Springsteen is a staple and even has his own channel on Sirius.
Bruce makes it quite clear what he thinks of radio these days:
Springsteen too old? I think we know the real reason why Clear Channel is against Springsteen. The same way they were against the Dixie Chicks and anyone else who has been outspoken against the Iraq invasion.
Howie Klein says
A couple weeks ago the new album was #1 on the Billboard album chart. Kid Rock's new album knocked it down a peg and this week, Springsteen disposed on Kid Rock and is back at #1. The album is already gold and headed right towards platinum and he's got a great shot to win a Grammy for Best Album of the Year. Magic's reviews virtually everywhere are over the top and the intro to his latest interview in Rolling Stone refers to the album's subject matter as "weighty stuff like the direction of our democracy and party stuff that recalls the days when sparks first flew on E Street more than three decades ago."
Republican radio network Clear Channel, a monopoly in many cities and a dominant player in most of the rest, isn't interested. Is it because Springsteen has been an outspoken campaigner for Democrats and progressives? Clear Channel has taken a political stand with its programming in the past. Just think back to their boycott of the Dixie Chicks. Oh, no... not way back, just back to when they released their most recent album. Despite being one of the top 10 best-selling American albums of the year-- across all genres and demographics-- radio studiously ignored it. There were maybe half a dozen country stations that even played it at all. What Clear Channel did to the Dixie Chicks is a watertight case for the need to break the media companies up into a thousand pieces. (John Sununu disagrees; he's pro-censorship.) I spoke with an old friend who heads a record company and preferred to speak off the record.
"When you have artists like the Dixie Chicks and Bruce Springsteen who have overtly spoken out against this Administration, they are taken to task in spite the clear and undeniable indications from the marketplace that people want to hear their music. What seems to be happening-- if sales are any kind of a barometer of what the marketplace is-- is that these politically-connected radio networks like Clear Channel are not looking to succeed as radio stations as much as pushing forward some political agenda.
Another friend of mine distinctly recalls the Senate hearings on radio consolidation in light of the Dixie Chicks boycott where Barbara Boxer and John McCain heard testimony including an internal Clear Channel memo threatening "Just wait and see what happens if Springsteen tries this." I guess we're seeing that right now.
Of course, Clear Channel hasn't publicly said they are boycotting Springsteen's music. But they are. Fox News, hardly a hotbed of liberal alarmists, reports that "Clear Channel has sent an edict to its classic rock stations not to play tracks from Magic... no new songs by Springsteen, even though it’s likely many radio listeners already own the album and would like to hear it mixed in with the junk offered on radio."
UPDATE.. rumors are that some CC stations are playing the album, but likely in defiance of the edict from corporate headquarters.
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