Music That Made My Life (Part 1)

Posted: March 26, 2014 in Music That Made My Life, Short stories, starts & writing
Tags:

*Thanks to raishimi33 for providing the inspiration to write this post.

The following is a brief history of the music that moved and affected me during the early part of my life – from my earliest memories up until my “musical awakening”, as it were, at about the age of 15 or 16. All of this music has been hugely influential and helped shape the path I’ve taken in life. It influenced me in a number of decisions I made during my adolescent years (not all of them good) and, of course, it has granted me the privilege of an endless source of stimulus, entertainment, and inspiration.
Each of these songs is synonymous with or evokes vivid memories of particular periods or events in my life.


1. Led Zeppelin – Communication Breakdown  /  Led Zeppelin – Kashmir  /  Rolling Stones – Little Red Rooster  /  The Beatles – Rocky Raccoon  /  Carol King – It’s Too Late  /  Kate Bush – Babooshka

1980-something to… probably about 1989 (whenever it was I started borrowing Dad’s Walkman for road-trips or after I got my Discman). Sitting in back of the orange Datsun 220B, the thrum and vibration of tyres on crumbling, dilapidated bitumen, heading north out of Bendigo. The regular rise and fall of the electrical wires dipping and swooping along the roadside, and the lazy progress past things in the distance – hay sheds and stands of trees out across the parched paddocks. Mum’s road-trip soundtrack as she drove us “up the farm” (to my Grandparents’ farm), absorbed mostly through osmosis, rather than studious listening. But it must have all sunk in, because to this day these songs still evoke memories of the Midland Highway, the two-hour drive that felt like forever, the wheat silos by the railway at Goornong, Elmore, Rochester, crossing over the Murray River at Echuca and praying a train didn’t come while we were half-way across the combined road and rail bridge! Turning off the Cobb Highway in what felt like the middle of nowhere, and doing the pothole slalom down Picola North Road, aching for that first glimpse of the willow-lined track down to the farm.


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


2. Michael Jackson – Thriller / The Police – King of Pain / Men At Work – Who Can It Be Now / Split Enz – I Got You

1980-ish to 1989-ish. Discovering gems in Mum and Dad’s tape collection, playing them on Mum’s big hi-fi in the lounge-room or in my room on the little portable radio-tape deck, and having little or no idea what I was about to listen to.
The intro to Thriller was a bit spooky, but it rocked, and the album also had Beat It and Billie Jean on it, and I’d seen and heard those on Countdown. I’ve still never seen the movie, Thriller, though…
I’d also seen Split Enz on Countdown. The film clip to I Got You used to creep me out for some reason. I’m still not sure why it troubled me. Something about the synthesizer in the verses. But it’s a love song! Watching it now, Neil Finn looks a bit weird with all that makeup on, but I’m not sure what my problem was.
It was a similar feeling to the line from King Of Pain, “there’s a little black spot on the sun today”. It’s fairly innocuous, but it mildly freaked me out. Again, I’m not sure why. Some kind of childhood anxiety, perhaps. The song also includes some troubling imagery, with lines like “a butterfly caught in a spider’s web” and “there’s a black winged gull with a broken back”, so those could well be difficult for a little kid to deal with, I guess.
Whatever the reason they disturbed me and yet fascinated me at the same time, and made me feel just a little sad (kind of like the segment from Sesame Street about the letter K… Why did they make the kitten fly away into the clouds?).
Of course, at the time I had absolutely no idea what the songs were about, just that they kind of weirded me out, and yet I loved them all the same.
And, well, The Police were cool because they were mentioned in the film Footloose, and that movie was cool!


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


3. Roxette – Listen to Your Heart / Paula Abdul – Opposites Attract / Def Leppard – Rocket / Transvision Vamp – I Want Your Love

Grade 5, Grade 6 and the Summer of 1989/1990 and I started to follow the herd and listen to what I was told – by commercial radio and television – was popular.
I discovered some cassingles were only $3.99!
And then came Opposites Attract, and the first musical purchase I made using my own money (never going to live that one down… But the film-clip had a cartoon cat in it for-crying- out-loud! How could a kid possibly resist?)
Roxette, and the Summer of 1989/1990 marked the point when I became a truly avid popular music fan. Also the point where I first noticed a girl at school! She let me kiss her (my first kiss) AND she liked Roxette too! I went all out and bought her a copy of Smash Hits Magazine that Christmas!
Around this time I made another discovery in Mum and Dad’s music collection (and a slightly strange one, because Mum and Dad never struck me as Def Leppard fans…)
I found Def Leppard’s Hysteria in amongst the vinyl LPs. Rock on!
And on Rage and on Hey, Hey It’s Saturday and just about everywhere was Wendy James… (wistful sigh!)… I mean, Transvision Vamp! Wendy James was really nice to look at! Hard for a pubescent 12 year old to ignore! I clearly remember one of Dad’s cricket team-mates coming into the lounge-room at someone-or-other’s place where we were having a b.b.q. one Saturday evening and, upon seeing the film-clip for I Want Your Love playing on the television, saying something like “What’s this? A dirty movie? Har, har, har.” I felt slightly shocked, but at the same time, yeah, Wendy was a bit dirty. Good dirty though! Presumably I just sat there and looked awkward.
Awkward like puberty, which for me was the beginning of a phase (in terms of musical tastes, that is) that is both awkward and embarrassing and difficult to admit to, looking back on it now. Filled with all kinds of things cheesy and twee (but also interspersed with the odd moment of b-grade awesomeness).


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


4. MC Hammer – U Can’t Touch This / Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby / C+C Music Factory – Things That Make You Go Hmmmm…. / Kris Kross – Jump / Young MC – Bust A Move / KLF – 3AM Eternal

The start of high school in 1990 and up to some point in 1992-ish.
Moving from being a “little kid” in primary school to the “big kid” world of high school and beginning the search for identity. Wanting to fit in, not be the odd-one-out, adhering to peer pressure like a good little lamb. I enjoyed the poppy American “rappers”, wannabe rappers, and one-hit-wonders that had chart success in Australia at the time. I guess I liked them because they were what Rage played on their Top 50 on Saturday mornings, and because their lyrics were all shallow, cocky arrogance – suited me just fine.
First concert occurred during this time: MC Hammer at the Melbourne Tennis Centre (never going to live that one down either…)
A friend and I (the same friend that had arranged for us to go see MC Hammer) toyed with the idea of starting our own rap group. We were going to be called N.O.Y.Z., which stood for “Non-oscillating yobbo zone” (yeah, you tell me…) and we even wrote some horrible, horrible lyrics. Thank f**k it only went that far! Neither of us had any musical talent whatsoever, so there was never a hope in hell of us producing any music!
At some point another kid in my class gave me Body Count on a tape he’d painted gold with a Posca pen. Posca pens were big back then. I painted my Aerosport 3000s all kinds of funky colours with Posca pens. Yeah! Aerosports were tough! Body Count was apparently tough too, but I could never really get into it. They did, however, swear a lot…


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


5. Violent Femmes – Add It Up

1992. Art class. A girl. She gave me a tape – the Violent Femmes self-titled album. Right there and then, all that rap-sh*t could go and jump! The Violent Femmes sang about all the delicious longing and the confusion and fear of adolescence and it just made perfect sense! I was in love!
She agreed to be my girlfriend, but it didn’t last long. We snogged a bit at the school social and then “broke up” not long after. Turned out the Violent Femmes worked well in easing the pain of break-ups as well.
I also found that my uncle had a copy of Hallowed Ground and I got a copy. It was darker, a bit more grown up than the self-titled album. But there was still lots there to feed that delicious longing and the confusion and fear of adolescence.


~~~


6. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away / Pearl Jam – Even Flow / Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name / R.E.M. – Losing My Religion / Metallica – Nothing Else Matters / Jane’s Addiction – Stop!

Early 1992-ish (around the time I came to be in possession of those Violent Femmes albums) I became aware of other, darker, much deeper music. Stuff that actually made you think a bit, stuff that spoke about confusion, angst, about sticking it to the man, questioned all that fake shininess of all things mainstream. This stuff was real. Some of the songs contained swear words and some of them even stuck their fingers up at their audience (but it wasn’t just swearing for the sake of swearing, like Body Count)! This was all new and very sexy in a way that Top 10 crap could never be. And it also helped that they f**king rocked!
A big, big influence came in the shape of a mix-tape a friend’s Dad loaned me (which, actually might have happened in 1993-ish). Titled Analysis: Weird by whoever had compiled it (a friend of my friend’s Dad), it was my first experience of a, genuine, serious, serious mix-tape. It even had a printed insert!


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


~~~


Please stay tuned for Part 2…

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Suzanne Killmister says:

    Fascinating developmental processes and discoveries with a good narration but now I have to play the tracks, all of them, the ones I know and the rest I don’t, in your order of course. How difficult was it to make a selection? Is it the beginning of an expanded story? How would I do this? Much to chew over. But, now, to the music…xox

  2. walt walker says:

    Love the Violent Femmes, Zeppelin, Metallica, REM, Rage, and a lot of these others for similar reasons. Music is so powerful when you’re growing up.

  3. walt walker says:

    I forgot that I’d already commented on this, but it popped up in my reader again so I’m commenting again.

    I like that you’ve got Zeppelin and Carole King in the same grouping.

    That Split Enz video seems way ahead of its time. It seems very clearly 80s, like it was in the meat of the decade, not the first year. Usually the first year or two of a decade are not too distinguishable from what the previous decade looked like, but there’s no 70s in that one at all.

    The Violent Femmes are a very underrated band. They deserve a much bigger place in the rock/pop canon than they’ve got or will ever get.

    Jane’s is one of the all time greats. Like Zeppelin, the sum of the whole is much greater than the individual parts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s