I’ve been thinking about what a gift music is. I am not musical (it’s a tragic genetic mistake), but oh, I love music! I can trace my memories by the music that I was listening to. We were discouraged from listening to most secular music. I remember my delight when my Dad bought me a walkman with a built in radio when I was 11. It was my covert ticket to the American Top Forty. I had some tapes I was allowed to play (Amy Grant, Michael W.Smith, and Silverwind) but I wasn’t supposed to listen to the radio station. We only had one local radio station, so I would lie in my bed after lights out, looking out through the flyscreened louvre windows into the dark night. Really FEELING the music on Kalang FM, you know? It was music of every genre which is maybe why I have such eclectic taste in music now.
I thought I would take myself on a tour of five most memorable tracks from my early years. Want to come along?
I grew up in one of those happy clappy churches. We took our sleeping bags to the night services and I’d fall asleep stretched out under the pews. I remember the sound of my Mum singing Scripture in Song choruses as she moved about the house. We had a record player with lots of gospel records. Like George Beverley Shea and Pat Boone. My favourite was a singer called Evie. I thought she was the prettiest thing ever, sitting in a field of daisies. She sang lots of uplifting country gospel songs. Listening to her music again, I can see where my early country music love came from. Here she is singing “I’m only four feet eleven but I’m goin’ to heaven”. All blonde pageboy seventies cuteness.
My big sister loved ABBA. I think she had a poster on the wall and I ruined it by vomiting on it from the top bunk one night. It wasn’t on purpose, honest! I still love ABBA, in the way you admire the things that you know ‘belong’ to your older siblings. When I was teaching I used ‘Mamma Mia’ as my packup-time-cue every afternoon. The boys always loved to sing “Yeah, I’ve been broken hearted/ blue since the day we FARTED” Bahaha. Some things never get old.
When I was seven or eight, I remember my singing with my sister after lights-out, the theme song for Greatest American Hero and ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ by Human League. This was an early influencer of my Sindy doll game plot lines. I was convinced that the best pathway to love was for the girl to be a waitress in a cocktail bar. Hello eighties synth pop. Maybe this is why Mum and Dad wanted to have a say over what I was listening to.
My best friend Nikki had a tape she got back in Australia at the end of 1984. It had the Axel Foley theme song on it, and this hugely evocative song (for me), Together in Electric Dreams.
I remember her lime green chenille bedspread, lying on our tummies and organising her collection of erasers. They had sniffy flavours like grape and tutti frutti. We would split our time between rollerskating, swimming, Sindy dolls, sucking on frozen green cordial and listening to her cassette tapes. Ah, good times. It was at her place, in a makeshift hut we erected, that I read the book ‘Where Did I Come From?’. It was a disturbing book all about the birds and the bees and I will never be able to look a rotund cartoon man in the eye ever again! Those years being Nikki’s best friend were some of my favourite from my whole life.
I miss you Nikki.
We went on an epic trip as a family at the end of 1986, winding our way up the Big Sur in a station wagon. Dad had a thing for what we called trucker music. My bro and I still sing Roger Whittaker’s ‘I’ve gotta leave ol’ Durham Town’ for a laugh. ‘Trailer for Rent’ reminds me of these times too. I saw Yosemite National Park from the drop down back seat in the boot of the car. And then I was a high school girl. Already six foot tall and going to my first school social under the Year 7 block. Wrapping my arms around Michael Francis for my first ever slow dance. I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight by the Cutting Crew. I was all hormones and idealism. I was 12 and he was 18, but I couldn’t understand why that caused such a fuss. I was to learn. But that is another story for another time. 😉
And then, boarding school. Sinead O’Connor, Tracey Chapman, 1927. RAGE on the common room TV. I had my own stereo tape player with a speed dub function. I was living the high life! And there was ‘serious’ young love. Shaun Welsh played me Richard Marx, LOUD, from someone else’s boom box in the Bell Tower. Right Here Waiting for You. It was a grand romantic gesture. Breaking my adolescent heart with the torment of his own. And then there was Roxette, It Must Have Been Love. I shared a dorm with fans of Guns n’Roses, Metallica, Jon Bon Jovi and Janis Ian. I watched the movie ‘Beaches’. I discovered Bette Midler. Barbra Streisand. These years were the years of heartache and homesickness. I remember the smell of the boarding house, the flat ham sandwiches and pink afternoon tea cake, bruised apples and gingham table cloths. Licorice, my secret horse. Anthony Rees playing the piano and nights in the common room, hanging out. Semeka Walshe’s beautiful shoes with covered leather buttons. Knox city, public transport, rat dissections and learning to smoke. Alice, Tracey, Julia, our Fijian princesses. Being a disappointment to my brother, but knowing he loved me just the same. Aw. Big years.
I never hear the music of these early years without being instantly transported. It’s strange, the way music can do that. Time warp you right back to where you were, the sights, sounds, smells. They all seem attached to the music for me. This year for my birthday, I am asking the hubster for a ‘mixed tape’ CD. Forty tracks for forty years.
Here is the playlist:
What songs were the soundtrack of your young years? Got some old favourites? I’ve been listening to mine on youtube today. It’s taken me back. If you’ve got a minute, why not go there and type some of your old favourites in? It’s as good as a time travel holiday.
What will you be typing in to the search box? Where will you go to today? I’d love to know what your favourite songs are…