I distinctly remember being sick of “More Than a Feeling” in high school. Why did we have to listen to a 20 year-old song every day? Even if we refused the possibility that any music recorded in the last two decades could be worth playing on the radio, I wondered, why play this one? It’s rhythmless and shrill; the chorus is weak, and the refrain compares the most abstract concept imaginable to…nothing. Hearing “More Than a Feeling” virtually every day on KGGO, at that time the only rock station in Des Moines, felt like a warning from an older generation that they would never relinquish culture, even if that meant culture had to stop. I imagined a man with a cigar at the radio station, angrily asking why we needed new music when “More Than a Feeling” was right here. Eventually these people would lay off, though. Surely, once “More Than a Feeling” was 40 years old, I would no longer hear it in car washes and burger joints. How little I knew. “More Than a Feeling” turned 40 last year, and it was the fifth-most played song across 25 classic rock radio stations in June.
Until I was about 16 years old, there was one station in Des Moines that played rock music: 94.9 KGGO, Des Moines’s best rock and roll. By “best rock and roll,” they meant classic rock. If you were unfamiliar with radio programming terminology, you might think the classic era of rock was the mid to late sixties: Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, et cetera. Although these artists occasionally played on KGGO, the station’s wheelhouse was the mid to late seventies: Bad Company, Foreigner, Kansas, Journey, Boston, Rush. These are the worst bands in the history of music. I know, because I have studied their top singles, against my will, for 30 years.