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Bring back MUZAK®

OK, so just the other day, I'm in Walmart, and over the loudspeakers Tom Petty's song, "Don't Come Around Here No More," starts playing.

Hey, don't come around here no more

Don't come around here no more

Don't come around here no more

Don't come around here no more

Who you expect to meet?

Don't come around here no more

And whatever you're looking for

Hey don't come around here no more


Honey please (honey please) don't come around here no more

Whatever you're looking for

Don't come around here no more

What's that all about? I almost left with the intention of never coming around no more!

And, a couple of weeks ago, as I'm pushing a cart through a small, local grocery store, I hear:

Baby, take off your coat... (real slow) Baby, take off your shoes... (here, I'll take your shoes) Baby, take off your dress Yes, yes, yes You can leave your hat on You can leave your hat on*

Am I really hearing this? Is the store manager hearing it? Is the young man scanning my groceries hearing it? (I hold back asking him).

Who's in charge of selecting the music that's broadcast in Chicagoland supermarkets and shopping malls? Music that's heard by tens of thousands of shoppers and scores of hundreds of store personnel every day. Sadly, from the looks of things, I don't think anyone is in charge; it seems to me that there's no selection process. I'm hearing the same thing here and there - just a hodge-podge of pop music from the last four decades of the 20th century, regardless of the topic of the song. The Stray Cats, followed by Diana Ross, with or without the Supremes, followed by Elton John... Uriah Heep... Cold Play... Gordon Lightfoot... Run DMC... The Captain and Tennille... Squeeze... U2... and, of course, the ever popular Fleetwood Mac -"Go Your Own Way," in particular. If someone was in charge, embarrassing moments, like those described above, just wouldn't happen. (Could you imagine Eric Clapton's "Cocaine," playing in Walgreens?? )

Maybe, the state of affairs could be helped by hiring DJs to create unique playlists - kinda like long "mix tapes." OR, let's reconsider MUZAK. It was gentle and soothing. And, I must admit, it was kind of fun to try to figure out which tune was playing in its denatured state (oh! oh! it's Boston! "Don't Look Back.") Yes, maybe it did put some people to sleep in elevators, and it could possibly sap the energy out of shoppers in the market aisles, but, without the words being sung, even a song like "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll," by Ian Drury and the Blockheads, could be broadcast, without embarrassment, in Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

*"You Can Leave Your Hat On," by Randy Newman.

Something smells fishy.


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