Radio Edits and Down Syndrome

I've been on a little vacation this weekend and busy with the last mile of Film Tycoons, so no blogs for a few days.  I've debated for a while whether I want to share any of my essays on Down Syndrome and decided to post at least one here this week -- after my younger daughter was born with DS the first couple years were a little rough, to put it mildly.  I started a journal/essay collection of sorts and haven't shared any of it until now.

I haven't edited this at all since writing it eight years ago, just a bit before Kelsey turned two.  Usually I try to make my blogs somewhat humorous and this one really isn't, but that's okay.  Not every day needs to be a laugh riot as long as the majority of them are fun.

People have been asking me "what it's like" to have a child with Down Syndrome.  The really short answer is that it's like having any other kid, but that's not completely true.  There's the day to day or week to week stuff -- she has regular therapy appointments that I never would have expected for any other kid.  There are also the Down-specific things, like the early checks for heart perforations and the looming specter of childhood leukemia, which is far more common in kids with Down and did hit our best friends' son.

I think people want to know something less practical or obvious, though, and I think about it a lot.  I thought I knew "what it's like" based on our friends' experience, but when Kelsey was born I realized that there's still a world of difference between being very close to a family with Down and being a family with Down.  It's hard to understand "what it's like" without actually being there.  So, I've been looking for ways to describe it to a "layman."

I love music and I greatly dislike radio edits.  I specifically dislike edits for time.  Most radio stations shy away from playing songs that are outside of their three to four minute range.  It's pretty simple; three to four minutes is the average length of a contemporary song and a radio station's business model is built around it.  They plan their airtime carefully and a six or eight minute song is hard to fit into the play list. 

Ever heard the missing verse from Bob Welch's "Sentimental Lady?"  I thought not.

Ever heard the missing verse from Bob Welch's "Sentimental Lady?"  I thought not.

It's done in every genre of contemporary music.  The editor clips out a few (or many) seconds of music in a place where he thinks the music can be brought together with as little continuity break as possible.  The most glaring example I've heard is Billy Joel's Piano Man, where the radio edit actually cuts the second half of one verse and the first half of the next, thus merging two verses into one.  You can also hear it somewhat more subtly in songs like The Little River Band's Cool Change or Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart.  (Or anything else written by Jim Steinman.)

The problem is that no matter how deftly the edit is done, anyone with even a slight passion for music recognizes the omission.  If you know the song, you notice at least subconsciously that "something's off here."

Of course, the radio edit doesn't ruin the song for you, or ruin music for you.  I don't think anyone hears a radio edit and decides he's never going to listen to that song again.  But in my experience, there's often still some little touch of frustration or disappointment when the radio edit comes on and you know that that one piece is missing.  If you listen to Total Eclipse of the Heart 100 times on the radio, you might hear the missing verse once (and in my opinion it adds a lot to the song.)

That's one of the answers I've come up with so far for "what's it like?"  You can't help but notice that a few of the notes are missing but you still love the song.