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  • Writer's pictureGuy G. Gorman

Porky and the Cool Music!!!!!

Updated: Mar 19, 2018

As an early teen I'd see ads in the Pittsburgh Press for Porky Chedwick's oldies shows. My sensibilities were offended by this white-haired guy who wore huge dark glasses and a leisure suit. How could he smile so widely and throw his arms in the air in delight when he was SO UNCOOL?!?!

Around the same age I distinctly remember sitting in my rocking chair downstairs, listening to the stereo and saying to myself, "I will always listen to the cool music." I think I was listening to Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way" at the time.

Flash forward about ten years. I'm working as a courier for Westinghouse, driving around the Pittsburgh Area. I'm flipping through the AM radio dial hoping to find something other than than the playlist-driven same ol', same ol' that is dominating FM radio by the mid-eighties. Next thing I know I'm listening to Elmore James' "Shake Your Money Maker". "Hey, this is cool!" I thought. Such energy, such immediacy! Next thing I know the DJ, self-assured, enthusiastic, speaking in cadence announces, "This is your Sound Hound with the ground round, your Platter Pushin' Papa. I'm gonna Porkify you!" "Could this be Porky Chedwick?!"

It sure was! And for the next couple of months I grooved to his tunes afternoons on WAMO 980 AM*. Porky introduced me to the Animals' version of "C.C. Rider," and Elmore's version of the aforementioned song, lots of doo wop too. I may have been familiar with many of the songs he played, but I hadn't heard the superior earlier versions from the 50's and early 60's. I began to understand just how great, Dion, and Bo Diddley were. My definition of cool music had changed.

And it continues to evolve. My definition of cool music now includes the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons, both of whom I despised in high school. I really appreciate Frank Sinatra's timbre and phrasing, and Frankie Yankovic's happy, happy, joy, joy approach to polka music. (I remember cringing somewhat when my friend's dad used to play their LPs.) Johnny Cash isn't just some guy who sounds like John Wayne singing, he's THE MAN. Louis Armstrong's Hot Five stirs my soul. I appreciate a lot of the AOR rock that was so popular** during my school days. I could go on and on.

My definition of cool music*** for the most part doesn't include the music that would now be considered cutting edge. Today's critics' darlings usually don't move me, nor does modern country music, if you can really call it country. Try as I might I rarely find a new artist that I want to listen to for more than a song or so. My favorite current artists tend to play more traditional styles--music that sounds like it's being made by actual people, music that you could play on your front porch or in your basement.

One of the wonderful mysteries of existence is that I am the same only different. It's so much fun to grow and watch my horizons broaden. (Who knows I may be trading fave raves with hipsters some day?) I'm discovering Dutch musicians like Tante Leen, Johnny Jordan, Boudewijn de Groot, and Spinvis (who is startlingly current for me). The cool music hasn't changed, but I have. And yeah, in spite of my adolescent wrongheadedness, Pork the Tork was always cool!

Listen to and learn about Porky here: .

*They seem to have changed their frequency in the intervening years. I swear it was 980, or somewhere in that vicinity in the mid 80's.

**I was so much older then: "Popular" was a bad word for me back in high school and college.

***I'm not saying that someone shouldn't find it cool. It's just that I don't.

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