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Elvis Costello — Radio, Radio
Album: This Year's Model
Avg rating:
6.9

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1706









Released: 1978
Length: 3:01
Plays (last 30 days): 0
I was tuning in the shine on the light night dial
Doing anything my radio advised
With every one of those late night stations
Playing songs bringing tears to my eyes
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver
When the switch broke 'cause it's old
They're saying things that I can hardly believe
They really think we're getting out of control

Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don't give you any choice 'cause they think that it's treason
So you had better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio

I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
I wanna bite that hand so badly
I want to make them wish they'd never seen me

Some of my friends sit around every evening
And they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
And the promise of an early bed
You either shut up or get cut up, they don't wanna hear about it
It's only inches on the reel-to-reel
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
Tryin' to anaesthetise the way that you feel

Wonderful radio
Marvelous radio
Wonderful radio
Radio, radio
Comments (190)add comment
people would now love how radio was in 1978
 Svetty wrote:
Not EC again FFS..........
 

Just PSD bud, no need for complaining.
Not EC again FFS..........
Exact same seque today, five years later! Bill must be getting lazy... 

Highlowsel wrote:
Duke Ellington segue into The Ramones followed by Elvis Costello.  Tell me that ain't an elegant eclectic selection of material, eh?  'Tis why I find it so hard to pull away from RP.  There just ain't anything else out there quite so......so......human?  {#Cheers}
 
Could Elvis Costello be the most overrated artist ever?
I remember bouncing off the walls at house parties  in the 80's listening to this tune. Gotta be a 10. 
Incredibly annoying.
 ziggytrix wrote:

This comment is over 3 years old and I've only just now noticed it, so...

Also, I was 2 when the song came out
, so I guess my opinion about strange, slightly off-tempo squeaky sounds in songs is not allowed?

The dog seemed intrigued by it, if that's any consolation.
 
Well, that explains it I guess.  For some reason I had gotten the impression that you were older (no offense) and incorrectly figured had heard this song for all those years.  I guess if one had the eight-track of this album they would not have heard the sound either.
This is so bad ! Are those organs?
 Proclivities wrote:

This song is over 35 years old and you've just noticed that sound?

 
This comment is over 3 years old and I've only just now noticed it, so...

Also, I was 2 when the song came out, so I guess my opinion about strange, slightly off-tempo squeaky sounds in songs is not allowed?

The dog seemed intrigued by it, if that's any consolation.
Radio, Radio!!
The good old days of driving around listening to the car radio! I had a '61 Impala inherited from my grandma in great shape (kept it till I went to Tokyo '02-'12), and it had the original factory-installed AM tube radio up in that massive steel dashboard that took a while to warm up. Not stereo, but a nice, fat, saturated sound, and when you were driving across the Great Plains or out to Cali or down into Mex, you could keep pulling in a distant station by cranking the knob that increased the signal gain or amplification rather than volume.
The best Elvis.
 megaadam wrote:
Hello Mr. Bill,
it would appear that my disaffection for Mr. Costellos voice is not completely unshared. I would love to see the PSD-click statistics for this particular performer. For me it has become a reflex...
{#No}

 
That would be an interesting statistic for any major group or famous song: what percentage of listeners PSD away? Do 50% of RPers who rate a song a "5" PSD from it, or do many of just grit out teeth through something we don't like? 

I'm a lot more likely to tough out something I don't like on RP than on other stations or Pandora/Spotify, etc. The algorithm-driven streaming services lose the plot so quickly, even if you set up a station and try tuning it with thumbs up/down for songs. You don't get any feel that their playlists have any design or intent or even flow behind it. I may not always like Bill and Rebecca's obsession with certain bands (Radiohead: seriously guys, do you have sonic OCD issues or compromising pictures floating around?) but I always know that are real live people choosing the tracks here. 
Good, but Jackson grew a bit more...
How is this song only a 7? It is so much more punk than what passes for punk.
Yeah, what Bill G said! It was about this time that Advertising got a hold of things and imagination and creativity became discouraged...

Just laughed hard at Bill's comment that when this song came out, unbeknownst to EC, radio had just begun to suck. {#Clap}
 JIan wrote:
Yes!! PSD got me the Dead! A vast improvement!

 
...says you.
Yes!! PSD got me the Dead! A vast improvement!
 treatment_bound wrote:
Radio Paradise is cleaning up the nation!!

Great follow from The RAMONES! 
 
+1
 Steely_D wrote:
I think that folks who don't like this are in the same category of people who think that the Beatles are mundane.
 
Have to disagree. I love the Beatles, but have never been able to get excited by Elvis Costello. 
 emersonrp wrote:
The segue from Ramones' "Do You Remember Rock" into this was particularly inspired.

 
+1
I think that folks who don't like this are in the same category of people who think that the Beatles are mundane.
At the time that Costello put this out, we were listening to Muskrat Love, You Light up My Life, and  Afternoon Delight

This cut through the bland like a knife, along with Petty, the Pretenders, and the Pistols - paving the way for bands like Green Day.

So you can look backwards now and think this is unimportant, but it was very very important. 
I know a lot of people love him. To me, however, it's sicko-barfo of the first order. I respect other peoples' preferences, howver - so now, I just rewind to hear RIVERSIDE, again! {#Bananajam}
Hello Mr. Bill,
it would appear that my disaffection for Mr. Costellos voice is not completely unshared. I would love to see the PSD-click statistics for this particular performer. For me it has become a reflex...
{#No}
Gosh... my ears are burning! 

 msymmes wrote:
When the switch broke 'cause it's old

This is TEN in imho.




 
My favourite line in the song too. I bought the LP in 1979 and that line jumped out then!
 Highlowsel wrote:
Tis why I find it so hard to pull away from RP.    {#Cheers}

 
Why would you want to try in the first place?
When the switch broke 'cause it's old

This is TEN in imho.



Radio Paradise is cleaning up the nation!!

Great follow from The RAMONES! 
This song does not benefit from the annoying "bat from Scooby Doo" noise repeated throughout the chorus.  Such a catchy, smart tune, but then there's that screeching scratching awfulness f!#@ing it all up. :(
PERFECT tune for RP! {#Music}
 HonduranRed wrote:

..is that when the Beastie Boys were scheduled to perform and they started to play Sabatoge, but then jumped off stage and Elvis and his band jumped on? that was one of the coolest things I've seen on TV...music wise anyway.

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNiAuRgmApE

Enjoy it while it's up on You Tube.


Duke Ellington segue into The Ramones followed by Elvis Costello.  Tell me that ain't an elegant eclectic selection of material, eh?  'Tis why I find it so hard to pull away from RP.  There just ain't anything else out there quite so......so......human?  {#Cheers}
The segue from Ramones' "Do You Remember Rock" into this was particularly inspired.

I saw him a couple of years ago at The Gathering of the Vibes.  Man, he's still got it!
 Bartho wrote:
I want to bite the hand that feeds me.....I want to bit that hand so badly!
Gotta love that inflatable mattress sound !!! 
 
Thank you!  Heard the squawk for the first time ever today!
I couldn't agree more with you!
 

rdo wrote:

Elvis Costello does not sing, he rants.  Discuss.   {#Group-hug}



 


 rdo wrote:

Elvis Costello does not sing, he rants.  Discuss.   {#Group-hug}



 
{#High-five}
This sequence is for the folks who were about to say how the Ramones have no real influence on modern music.....oops!
 
That's two in a row... are we going to get Queen's "Radio gaga" next?
 
Another great mix from Bill! - I'm stealing this one.

Ramones, Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio into this song, works fantastically !
 ziakut wrote:
Normally like Elvis Costello...but I just find this a bit inane and annoying.
 
Yes needs 'Toni Basil'' to come in on the chorus lol
Normally like Elvis Costello...but I just find this a bit inane and annoying.
 rdo wrote:

Elvis Costello does not sing, he rants.  Discuss.   {#Group-hug}

 
EC does it all, including this, which I consider at a fringe of his output (not necessarily the fringe where I want to be).

Elvis Costello does not sing, he rants.  Discuss.   {#Group-hug}


Okay, I've changed my mind. It sounds more like someone is squeezing a rat.
Total crap.
 
 Bartho wrote:
I want to bite the hand that feeds me.....I want to bit that hand so badly!
Gotta love that inflatable mattress sound !!! 
 
I think It's the background singers whispering "Listen, listen" but I prefer your version.
 msymmes wrote:
I'd love a ticket to see him at Casino Rama, here, just north of Toronto shortly.   Not your average Casino venue - this place has fantastic acoustics.  I think he will blow the roof off the place.

 
 
Rama has good acoustics? Srsly?
thank christ,,, music to wake me up and get me moving....... 
I want to bite the hand that feeds me.....I want to bit that hand so badly!
Gotta love that inflatable mattress sound !!! 
I think a bird got stuck in my left speaker!
I love these "radio" sets on RP.

Godlike !!!!!

One of the few tens in my books.

 
Ray-o, ray-o.
 lemmoth wrote:
And yet to me it sounds like the beginnings of one of the tightest and powerful bands on the planet - EC and the Attractions, and one of the most brilliant lyricist and expressive vocalists of the last 40 years.

 
Saw EC with the Attractions in the early 80s and, man, that was indeed one tight and polished band. Severely under-rated.
 lemmoth wrote:
And yet to me it sounds like the beginnings of one of the tightest and powerful bands on the planet - EC and the Attractions, and one of the most brilliant lyricist and expressive vocalists of the last 40 years.

 

He is brilliant.  I would put him in a very exclusive class with Pete Townshend, David Byrne,  Leonard Cohen.    Who else?  
I'd love a ticket to see him at Casino Rama, here, just north of Toronto shortly.   Not your average Casino venue - this place has fantastic acoustics.  I think he will blow the roof off the place.

 
Possibly his best work ever.  But too much other good stuff followed right up until this day to really proclaim that this, his first anthem, is really  his best.

 
 PA1749 wrote:
I try to keep an open mind, but I've never been able to connect with Costello. I guess we are just on totally different wavelengths. This just sounds like noise with really bad vocals. 1
  And yet to me it sounds like the beginnings of one of the tightest and powerful bands on the planet - EC and the Attractions, and one of the most brilliant lyricist and expressive vocalists of the last 40 years.

Brilliant song that summarizes what horrible crap commercial radio always tried to sell us.  I wish RP was around in '78 - Bill is not a "fool trying to aneasthesize the way that we feel" - that's for sure.
 Bone wrote:
Great track that continues to nag me with  the question...

...what is that sound??

Bike tire pump?

Rubber Duckie w/ laryngitis?
 
Sounds like the sound small woodland creatures make when my cats catch one, bring it in the house and "play" with it. And yes, we do our best to repatriate them to the outdoors.
 cc_rider wrote:
Um, that's Elvis Costello.
 

Revered by critics, reviled by unbelievers..
 PA1749 wrote:
I try to keep an open mind, but I've never been able to connect with Costello. I guess we are just on totally different wavelengths. This just sounds like noise with really bad vocals. 1
 
totally agree! This song also sounds as retro in bad meaning of this word.2.
I try to keep an open mind, but I've never been able to connect with Costello. I guess we are just on totally different wavelengths. This just sounds like noise with really bad vocals. 1
EVERY DAMN TIME I've ever been in a band that played this live, the dance floor was

FLOODED with people...  {#Lol}


*Great* song... And what a set here: I Heard Ramona Sing —> Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio —> Radio, Radio... 

Wonder what's next?  Radio Ga Ga?  : ) 
I was there. This brings back the whole thing. The time. Like I was there, again. I'm getting old.

Had tickets to see Elvis perform right here in Richmond last night, but Mr. Costello got sick.

Of course, it is also hotter than the hinges of hell here (show was outdoors).

Anyway, rescheduled for August 1st!

Get better Elvis!! 
 Bone wrote:
Great track that continues to nag me with  the question...

...what is that sound??

Bike tire pump?

Rubber Duckie w/ laryngitis?
 

Hehehe I vote for the duckie.
What a concise condemnation of a large group of folks:

Some of my friends sit around every evening
And they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
And the promise of an early bed 
 Bone wrote:
Great track that continues to nag me with  the question...

...what is that sound??

Bike tire pump?

Rubber Duckie w/ laryngitis?
  Um, that's Elvis Costello.


Great track that continues to nag me with  the question...

...what is that sound??

Bike tire pump?

Rubber Duckie w/ laryngitis?
Bill, the song was released in '78, so it wasn't really a comment on 80's radio?

Incidentally, Elvis got himself banned from Saturday Night Live for years by playing this song in his first appearance, after promising he wouldn't:

https://videosift.com/video/Elvis-Costello-Radio-Radio-SNL

IMO there was never a better rock band than EC & Attractions circa 1978. Good times!
 crockydile wrote:
One geek that needs his ass kicked. {#Beat}
 
What's his donkey done to deserve that? Poor thing :(

Photo of donkey looking at the camera.

Posting some dubious lyrics - if anyone can fill in the blanks or correct these, it'd be appreciated...
I was tuning in the shine on the light night dial
Doing anything my radio advised
With every one of those late night stations
Playing songs bringing tears to my eyes
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver
When the switch broke 'cause it's old
They're saying things that I can hardly believe
They really think we're getting out of control

(CHORUS) Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don't give you any choice 'cause they think that it's treason
So you had better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio

I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
I wanna bite that hand so badly
I want to make them wish they'd never seen me

Some of my friends sit around every evening
And they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
And the promise of an early bed
You either shut up or get cut up, they don't wanna hear about it
It's only inches on the reel-to-reel
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
Tryin' to anaesthetise the way that you feel

(REPEAT CHORUS)

Wonderful radio
Marvelous radio
Wonderful radio
Radio, radio
(FADE)


hard to believe this was once considered a controversial song.
 ArnoDick wrote:
One of my favourite songs of all time.
 
Same here.

 lmic wrote:

And let us not forget KABL for most excellent coverage of the standards!

p.s. KPOO? LOL

 
I applied for a DJ gig at KPOO. Waaaaay too square for them. Man did that place reek.

Always makes me think of seeing The Detours in Boise ID during the early 80's. . .
 h8rhater wrote:

SNL actually released this performance on their "Saturday Night Live: 25 Years Of Musical Performances, Vol. 1" CD back in '99.
 
..is that when the Beastie Boys were scheduled to perform and they started to play Sabatoge, but then jumped off stage and Elvis and his band jumped on? that was one of the coolest things I've seen on TV...music wise anyway.
This is suffering more than most tracks from compression artifacts of streaming.  There is some high frequency content that's really impacted in a very obvious way.  I guess that's the nature of the best, but I don't usually notice it so much.
 jacksonpauls wrote:
i find this guy's voice exceedingly annoying, i'd like to hear his songs less frequently.
  yes, yes, yes!!!


I'd vote for this for Radio Paradise's theme song.
nice transition from the ramones.
 andrewimft wrote:
Yeah, I live too far north of the city to get reception for KFOG. I used to like that, and KPOO public radio had great music shows back in the '80's when I lived in SF. KPOO had the best 50's and doo wop music 
 
And let us not forget KABL for most excellent coverage of the standards!

p.s. KPOO? LOL

Would fit well next to The Kinks' "Rock'n'Roll Fantasy" :)
 bachbeet wrote:
A much better song than the Ramones' song.
 

yes - Ramones 3 Elvis Costello 5 and growing on me
 doctec wrote:

Yep, sure did.  Embarassed to say, I think I have it on a beta tape {#Shifty}

 
SNL actually released this performance on their "Saturday Night Live: 25 Years Of Musical Performances, Vol. 1" CD back in '99.

A much better song than the Ramones' song.
One of my favourite songs of all time.
 robco1 wrote:
How many folks saw the performance on SNL, when he stopped playing and broke into this one, in defiance of NBC? Fantastic. I think that must have been '79? Anyone?
 
Yep, sure did.  Embarassed to say, I think I have it on a beta tape {#Shifty}

"overwhelmed by indifference"

Great expression.

crockydile wrote:
One geek that needs his ass kicked. {#Beat}

Elvis would kick your ass in 4/4 time and three-part harmony, pal.

How many folks saw the performance on SNL, when he stopped playing and broke into this one, in defiance of NBC? Fantastic. I think that must have been '79? Anyone?
One geek that needs his ass kicked. {#Beat}
 DELTA__9__FOOLS wrote:
LOVE the organ!
 

YEP.
"So you have better do as you are told...
you better listen to the Radio."

Man, he was brilliant back then. 9.

I wanna bite the hand that feeds me, I wanna bite that hand so badly,
I wanna make them wish they'd never seeeeeeeen meeeeeeeee
excellent!
 Dinges,_the_Dude wrote:
Damn irritating and annoying organ! Elvis has some more songs with a symmilar organ: I always skip those if possible!
 
some more songs with a similar organ indeed.  Like just about everything with "The Attractions".  This song has to be a 10 even if you hate the sound.  Just for what it stands for.  And for "......I was seriously thinkin' about hiding the receiver when the switch broke, 'cuz it's old."  And assorted other awesome lyrics from that song.  :-)))

 Dinges,_the_Dude wrote:
Damn irritating and annoying organ! Elvis has some more songs with a symmilar organ: I always skip those if possible!
 
That's the most interesting alternate spelling of 'similar' that I've seen, if not the only one.

I know this is wrong.. but when he goes into "I want to bite the hand that feeds me" it really really reminds me of Weird Al {#Doh}
 Dinges,_the_Dude wrote:
Damn irritating and annoying organ! Elvis has some more songs with a symmilar organ: I always skip those if possible!
 
What's wrong with his organ?
LOVE the organ!
Long live Radio Caroline!
Damn irritating and annoying organ! Elvis has some more songs with a symmilar organ: I always skip those if possible!
 toterola wrote:

Hey. If you really live in North California, then you know about KFOG. I swear, if it weren't for KFOG, RP, and NovaM radio, I couldn't make it.

 
Yeah, I live too far north of the city to get reception for KFOG. I used to like that, and KPOO public radio had great music shows back in the '80's when I lived in SF. KPOO had the best 50's and doo wop music  and the best '60's soul music shows I've ever heard in my life. Their blues, jazz and psychedelic rock shows were excellent as well. Up here, it's all Clear Channell affilliates, and the public radio & the one alternative 'rock' station essentially play folk music the vast majority of the time. I listened for a while, and now tune it out. I like new folk, but it gets old fast when it's all that gets played. Basically radio up here in Son Cty sucks gigantically.


 andrewimft wrote:

Much of radio no longer has dj's, but if they do, the dj's have zero to do with the songs chosen. Some of the dj's are already pre-programmed as part of the disc on the station, so a lot of stations are just empty shells with a janitor and a tiny staff to make sure all the electronic equipment runs— much cheaper for the corporation owning a bunch of stations. The local ad sales staff is usually way bigger than the dj's and cheaper to pay. Songs are pre-programmed on discs chosen by people in suits with demographic and sales charts, and that's when it isn't based on payola (remember Spitzer in NY broke a big payola scandal that was just the tip of the iceberg) or other marketing considerations that shove out any of those pesky fiscally unreliable creative concerns. It used to be that radio stations would 'try out' new bands, artists and songs in certain parts of the country ("markets") to see if they get popular there and get sales to advance to more markets and go national. That was the way it used to be. Now most of the music is already pre-programmed by people in suits somewhere, with their damn graphs and calculators. And the dj's, if they actually are in the studio and not programmed previously in the disc, are there in between the songs to chatter or be 'personalities'. Video might've wounded the radio star, but the suits killed the radio stars dead, dead, dead. Welcome to the machine.

 
Hey. If you really live in North California, then you know about KFOG. I swear, if it weren't for KFOG, RP, and NovaM radio, I couldn't make it.

 rcurrier wrote:

DJs are narcissists. They think everything revolves around them, so the surest way of getting airplay is to sing about the only that matters: radio. (The exception that proves the rule being Bill, of course.)
 
Much of radio no longer has dj's, but if they do, the dj's have zero to do with the songs chosen. Some of the dj's are already pre-programmed as part of the disc on the station, so a lot of stations are just empty shells with a janitor and a tiny staff to make sure all the electronic equipment runs— much cheaper for the corporation owning a bunch of stations. The local ad sales staff is usually way bigger than the dj's and cheaper to pay. Songs are pre-programmed on discs chosen by people in suits with demographic and sales charts, and that's when it isn't based on payola (remember Spitzer in NY broke a big payola scandal that was just the tip of the iceberg) or other marketing considerations that shove out any of those pesky fiscally unreliable creative concerns. It used to be that radio stations would 'try out' new bands, artists and songs in certain parts of the country ("markets") to see if they get popular there and get sales to advance to more markets and go national. That was the way it used to be. Now most of the music is already pre-programmed by people in suits somewhere, with their damn graphs and calculators. And the dj's, if they actually are in the studio and not programmed previously in the disc, are there in between the songs to chatter or be 'personalities'. Video might've wounded the radio star, but the suits killed the radio stars dead, dead, dead. Welcome to the machine.

pweverka wrote:
... the song protests the state of the media.
I saw Elvis Costello and the Attractions in 1979 and I clearly recall he introduced the track by saying "...this is about Radio One!" Radio One was the BBC's 'popular' radio channel, though 'new wave' was not judged to be popular by most of the ageing hippy DJs or the establishment producers who worked for the BBC at the time. God bless John Peel
Phlegmaticman wrote:
What is it about radio songs?
DJs are narcissists. They think everything revolves around them, so the surest way of getting airplay is to sing about the only that matters: radio. (The exception that proves the rule being Bill, of course.)
rtkmusic wrote:
Elvis Costello - Radio, Radio Van Morrison - Wavelength Yeah, but we like this one, too!!!
How about this one: The Dead 60s - Riot Radio Elvis Costello - Radio, Radio
i find this guy's voice exceedingly annoying, i'd like to hear his songs less frequently.
p2h2d2 wrote:
most excellent, nice transition from the Ramones :clap:
Agreed
ScottFromWyoming wrote:
Elvis Costello - Radio, Radio Ramones - Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio Saw that segue comin' up 5th avenue... :clap:
Elvis Costello - Radio, Radio Van Morrison - Wavelength Yeah, but we like this one, too!!!
Gotta love anything by Elvis Costello! Now, how about some Elvis Crespo!!
Excellent classic Elvis!
most excellent, nice transition from the Ramones :clap: