Backstage in South Florida: Five Suggestions for Big 105.9's Playlist

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Five suggestions for BIG 105.9's classic rock play list

Let's pose this question: Is there anyone out there in dire need of hearing "Sweet Home Alabama" or "Stairway to Heaven" even one more time, like ever, like for eternity? Really? Most of us whine about the crap we hear on the radio and feel frustrated due to the lack of airway options. Well, take heart, all you retro rock junkies. BIG 105.9 is giving its listeners a chance to impact its playlist.

In a display of populist generosity, it's offering an opportunity to

become a member of BIG's Listener Advisory, and all you have to do is

suggest tunes you'd like to hear them play. Go to and offer the station your

advice. No, the gig doesn't pay, but isn't it well worth it not to have

to listen to one of those tired tracks anymore?

Before you do make your suggestions, however, here are a few requests from yours truly -- if you really haven't had your share of "Stairway to Heaven" or "Sweet Home Alabama" (or "Smoke on the Water" or "Crazy Train" or "Satisfaction" or any of the other tracks we're used to hearing all too often), keep your opinions to yourself.

We're aiming for originality here, kids!

Therefore, we're offering a few thoughts to help you make your choices. You can shed a few of these tired tunes and still rock out relentlessly... and, while you're at it, maybe toss out that old Bon Jovi T-shirt you bought at their merch table during the '84 tour.

Delete: "Stairway to Heaven."

Add: Anything from Led Zeppelin's eponymous debut album.

For all their later notoriety, Zep never made a more definitive statement than it did with that first album -- not because it wasn't great later on but because that album said all that was needed to about their aptitude and their attitude.

Or, play something by the Yardbirds, the band that mentored Jimmy Page -- first as their bassist, and then, when Jeff Beck left to go out on his own, as the quintessential hot-shot guitarist. In fact, if you really want to hear some authentic British blues (admittedly a bit of an oxymoron, since those rich little British snots never really had much reason to sing the blues once they started gathering their groupies), then try John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, the Jeff Beck Group, early Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green, or anything by Irish ax man Rory Gallagher. A slew of recent reissues covering Gallagher's extensive catalog make that last prospect all the more practical. 

Delete: "Satisfaction"

Add: Just about anything else by Mick, Keith and company as long as it's prior to 1975, when the Stones started to suck.

OK, you can add "Start Me Up," but forget the bulk of the '80s and '90s and the '00s... not that anyone can name a single song from that period anyway. Better to mine the early canon with songs like "Paint It Black," "Under My Thumb," "Mother's Little Helper," or practically anything from Beggar's Banquet, Let It Bleed, and Exile on Main Street, all thoroughly decadent examples of the Stones' sass and swagger. At their age these days, all "Satisfaction" means to the Stones is the ability to have a successful bowel movement or being able pass gas so that nobody takes notice. 

Delete: "Smoke on the Water"

Add: A great track from Book of Talysien, Deep Purple's second album: "River Deep, Mountain High."

Originally done by Ike and Tina Turner, Deep Purple adds an intensity that turns the song into a tour de force. Second choice: Deep Purple in Rock, the band's signature statement.

Besides, isn't it physically impossible to have smoke on the water? Unless you happen to be out on your wave runner and lighting something up that maybe you shouldn't. You see, I tend to take song titles literally. When Johnny Cash sang "I Walk the Line," I figured he was talking about a field sobriety test. And when the Police pleaded "Don't Stand So Close to Me," I interpreted that as a defense against a guy with some really bad BO. As for the B-52's "My Own Private Idaho"... well, I don't really have a punch line for that one.

Delete: "Crazy Train"

Add: "Locomotive Breath" by Jethro Tull

Granted, we really don't know what kind of breath this particular locomotive had, but even if it was rancid as hell, it's probably a more reliable means of transportation than a crazy train. Just so there's no doubt, I love Ozzy as much as anyone, but this song is overplayed on the airwaves.

Now maybe because we're talking about "Crazy Train" and I'm running out of steam... Sorry for the pun....

Delete: "Free Bird"

Add: Almost anything in order to pry this weary warhorse off the playlist.

Hell, I'll even donate my copy of Marshall Tucker's Greatest Hits if we can chuck "Sweet Home Alabama" along with it. If you need to fill your Southern-rock quota, why not go with the Allman Brothers Band instead? Its sophomore set, Idlewild South, is regional rock at its prime. I personally recommend the lengthy instrumental "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." As a former DJ, I can tell you that it provides more than enough time to take that much-needed bathroom break. 

And really, isn't that what great music is all about?

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Lee Zimmerman