Tonight is the end of Q101. I haven’t listened to Q101 in years. In my mind it was rendered fairly irrelevant around the time its format changed to playing mostly 90s music. I love listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam but I don’t need a radio station for that. The only thing I need a radio station for is to let me know what is new…and the new stuff on Q101 has been horrid for years. But such is the state of modern rock radio…and the reason that Chicago’s most prominent rock station for as long as I’ve been listening to music is just going away.
I do have a lot of sentimentality attached to Q101 and the hours spent with my high school friends – JR and Jason and Adam and Lubben – driving around and singing along. And throwing eggs and doughnuts out the window cause we thought it was funny. And chipping parking lots. And lots of other pointless destruction that we probably should have felt bad enough, but never to the extent that we should feel too bad looking back. And we sang. And talked about songs. Everyone loved the Smashing Pumpkins of course. They were from Chicago. And we all loved Rage Against the Machine because we thought we hated the government…even though we all had different views and all thought Rage was in our corner. Nirvana goes without saying, but Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, STP, all had varying levels of acceptance within our group. Sometimes we were into punk.
There was bad stuff too…stuff that I look back on and can’t believe I would ever willingly listen to. There was always some new band that one of us (usually Lubben) would inexplicably reason was pretty good (Bloodhound Gang, Eve 6, Sugar Ray, Fuel, and on and on.) All of us would kind of quietly enjoy Blink 182…though in retrospect I’m not really sure what was so bad about that. We all sort of flirted with the whole rap/rock phenomenon. I pray to God I never thought Fred Durst spoke for me but I can’t guarantee it.
And of course we all liked Creed. Lots. If you’ve ever listened to Creed you know that they are, obviously, awful. I guess you could call them ground breaking in the sense that they pioneered that derp rock style that soon took over the radio and ruined Q101 and every other modern rock station that was about to be invaded by Nickelback, Three Doors Down, and whatever has come since I stopped paying attention. But to us they were beyond groundbreaking…they changed the way we listened to music. You see, when we weren’t driving around with slurpees and Dr. Pepper listening to grunge and punk, we were usually at some church or school event or someone’s house and pretending to like DC Talk and Jars of Clay. Or maybe we actually weren’t pretending all that much. Either way, when “My Own Prison” first came on the radio we ALL loved it. And then when we heard “What’s This Life For” we thought music would never be the same. Here was a band that was singing about God and all those things we thought we understood, but these weren’t sing-songy praise songs. Scott Stapp’s lyrics were full of loneliness and uncertainty even as he maintained faith in God…it was a more holistic view of religion than we had heard from a singer at that point. I mean, for fuck sake, this guy said “goddamn” in reference to us all living under the reign of one King. In short, he talked the way we talked with each other at 3 in the morning when we were the only ones listening, and we loved him for that.
I grew out of Creed when I went to college and found out about the Pixies and The Roots. But Creed gave me my first glimpse that secular music was capable of touching my thoughts on God. Every now and then I hear them on the radio and I can’t help turning it up and singing along and thinking about JR and Jason. Then I pop in My Morning Jacket or Johnny Cash and get that feeling back.