Friday, September 14, 2012

10 Songs I Grew Up To

This blog came from Jackie K, who knicked the idea about songs we grew up with. This was taken from another blogger - but as imitation is the greatest form of flattery, I will give this a go. Here are my ten songs from my yoof that have particular memories. There are lots of songs that I remember - I've got this pesky memory for lyrics and tunes, but these songs always resonate with me, with particular memories to boot.

Mellow Yellow - Donovan
As a child, my family holidays revolved around one of two things - going on a houseboat up the Murray, or taking my grandparent's caravan somewhere. Both holidays involved sitting around doing not very much at all. Even as a pre-teen I was into music, though my parents really didn't have much clue - or so I thought. Dad with his Bing Crosby and Sinatra records were not that cool at all. Mum was even worse. Neither of my parents got into the Beatles, much to my chagrin.
Despite neither of my parents being musically inclined, the radio was always in in the car and at home. Mum, to this day, still has the radio on a really dodgy talkback station whenever I go home - and the songs that come out from her little transistor can be shockers (will see if I can find the Port People Song on YouTube).
My memories of Mellow Yellow come from a holiday when I was in my early teen years. We were on the River Murray on a houseboat where the only music available was the daggy regional station that came out of Renmark or Berri. I clearly remember this song coming on one day when I was fishing off the back of the boat with my Mum (My Mum loves fishing - something instilled in her by her father when they lived up on the river when she was a child.) A happy childhood memory. I don't have many of them.

Turning Japanese - The Vapours
Despite the abject humiliation attached to this song, I still love it. It came out in 1980 - my last year of primary school. At the age of 12, the real meaning of the song was not apparent - then again, I only found out a few years ago what "Turning Japanese" was all about. (Surely I wasn't the last person to find out that the song was about wanking)
Regardless, we had the year seven social held in the Year 6-7 classroom. Myponga Primary School had about 25 kids in the composite grade six and seven class. The social - or dance - was held one night near the end of the school year. We all got dressed up in our Myponga finest and went for an evening of dancing and overindulging in cheezel and other E-number infused confections. We had a dance off. There were three of us left on the floor dancing to this song.
Never one for dancing I proceeded to do my best whirling dervish imitation. Dancing's never been something I've been good at.
Needless to say, the only person who voted for me being the best dancer was the teacher.
Never have I forgotten this.
And it's part of the reason why I only tend to dance in public when I have a half a skin full of beer under my belt.

Howzat - Sherbert
I hear Sherbet and I think of summer as a child and this new fandangled game of limited overs cricket that came into being when I was nine-years-old. This was a bit of a theme song from these days. I hear this and I think of the coveted McDonalds posters of the Australian Cricket Team that used to adorn my bedroom walls. Yes, it is a little known fact that my nine-year-old self was a cricket tragic. I hear this song and I think of names like Dennis Lillee, Rod Marsh, Jeff Thompson, David Hookes (may he rest in peace) the Chappell Brothers - and of course Augustine Logie, Viv Richards, Imran Kahn and the rest of the crew. I still like cricket - I'll have it on in the background and I'll sit and watch the last ten overs of an inning when I can catch a game - but this 20/20 rubbish is not the same as those heady, hot summer days of the late seventies, when Darryl Braithwaite stood in his tight flares crooning on Countdown. Life was simpler then - except for when I had to explain to my mother how I broke the chandelier in the lounge room imitating a celebratory jump by Augustine Logie one day.

The Rivers of Babylon - Boney M
Boney M, and this song in particular, will forever remind me of my step-sister's mother, Trista. My family circumstances in my childhood aren't worth going into, but needless to say, we spent a lot of time up at JD's place as kids. I can't hear this song without visualising Trista dancing around the kitchen which overlooked the Myponga Reservoir. Trista always loved to dance - her line dancing troupe were there in their regalia at her funeral - but I always see her in my mind, hips kicking along to the beat of this song. Funny how one song can bring back a person so clearly.

Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights
Countdown was a staple for me on Sunday night, not that my mother agreed with me - for some reason she hated Countdown with a passion.
I used to watch Countdown religiously from the age of seven or eight to see what was new in the music scene. Unfortunately, my music tastes have not really developed since then, but I do have recollections of seeing Kate Bush in her floaty red dress roaming around in the cold, wet English hills - and I thought she was an idiot. I also remember thinking, "What the hell is this crap? Remember, this is the year that Grease came out (and I wasn't allowed to see it at the movies because my mother thought that my ten-year-old self was too young and wouldn't understand) Other songs that came out this year were more to my liking - John Paul "Squeek" Young's "Love is in the Air", The Bee Gees, Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" - more harmonious, smooth music, none of this discordant shrieking from some ethereal harpy.
Silly thing is that as my life has progressed, as I've become more literate and my music tastes have broadened with my hips, I really like this song now. I like the James Reyne cover of it even more. (Unintelligible song made understandable by a singer who's known for not being understood.)
I still maintain that this would be great covered by a death metal band.

And compare it with the James Reyne version

Careless Whisper - George Michael
I remember George Michael before he was gay and before he was best known for frequenting public toilets at night on Hampstead Heath. I also remember when George Michael had this mute shadow called Andrew Ridgeley - wonder what happened to him…. George Michael's song came out in 1984 - and though I sort of liked it, I also derided it before being popular crap. It wasn't until I met my friend Geetangeli in university that I really got to see the efforts George Michael fans went to keep his music playing. I hear this song and I think of Geetangeli. And when we meet up every few years, I ask her if she is still listing to George Michael. 
She is.

Moscow - Ghengis Khan
With all the drama around the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the boycotting of the event, the Cold War, the Eastern block gymnasts and Nadia Comaneci receiving her perfect 10 on the beam, I remember the song that came out of the Olympics. I was in the last year of primary school. We used to get television breaks to watch some events. Back then, the Olympics seemed to be steeped in high ideals and excellence. That these people, who were amateurs would pit themselves against each other seemed like such a wonderful thing to my idealistic twelve-year-old self. Being Australian, we were thrilled to have won the handful of medals we gained. There was none of this "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi,Oi." crap and whining about getting a silver medal. These Olympics were even more wonderful because at the time, I thought my body was rubbish. Just out of plaster boots, not able to participate in sport or do anything remotely sporting, these people amazed me. They still do.
Not that this song gets played much any more, but on the odd chance you're listening to dodgy regional radio it comes out (Like Mellow Yellow and the Boney M songs) it takes me back to my final year of primary school, back when I was too young and too na├»ve to know about things like the Cold War and doping. At the time, the Russians were just the baddies and that was all - I could never understand it. Moscow did look like such a pretty place in the pictures.

And I've just reviewed this clip and it's given me the best giggle I've had in weeks.

Jealous Guy - Roxy Music
First kiss song.
This is up there in my top three songs ever. I know it’s a cover. I know that I should like the John Lennon version of this - but Brian Ferry whistles better.
So I hear this and I think of a lanky, geeky, spotty, greasy-haired lad who drove a yellow Datsun 180B who was in the year above me at school. Always the late bloomer, my sixteen-year-old self had been waiting for all of this stuff to start to happen. My younger sister, who is four years younger than me, was at it - why couldn't I be? Then again, my sister was the girl who was into horses as a kid who then turns her affections to boys as soon as puberty kicks in. I was always into books.
Well, it did finally happen (strangely, tomorrow is the anniversary of that fateful day - funny how things like that stick in your mind). With this song gently playing in the background.

April Sun in Cuba - Dragon
I hear this and thing of the Sellicks Beach, of driving our station wagon onto the sand, and body boarding in the gentle surf and playing beach cricket with an esky lid for the stump. I hear this and know that the windows on the car were wound down (manually) because it was as hot as Hades and the car had no air conditioning. We'd stay at the beach until the sun had disappeared. We'd have brought sandwiches and soft drink and we wouldn't share packets of twisties and cheezels, washing our hands in the surf. You would go home sunburned and tired and happy.
This song reminds me of all this. Rest in Peace, Mark Hunter
To show you where I grew up - and to show you the beach that all this played out on, see here. This movie was made in the area I come from. The car is driving along this beach.

Reckless - Australian Crawl
A few months ago I found myself at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney looking over the harbour, watching the Manly ferry come into the quay - and I started to cry. I had this playing on the iPod.
This has been my favourite song since it came out in 1983 when I was 15. It has always been my favourite song. It will probably always be my favourite song.
I've broken up with boys to this song, got drunk to this song, watched the sun come up on Mount Lofty to this song, made love to this song.... you name it, this song has been with me like an old favourite jumper or loyal dog. It's moody, it's pensive, it's angry, it's calming. 
What was all the more poignant about listening to this song a few months back from my perch at the Shangri La (albeit an acoustic version) is that I see now that sometimes you carry these tunes around for a reason. They bring back memories, the make you feel. They make you laugh. And they make you remember. 
I hear Reckless now and see the symmetry in my life.
And I can see how far I have come.



The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

I commented on jackie's blog that this would be an impossible post for me - far too many songs.

But of the ones you've posted:

"Mellow Yellow" - Yup - heard that. I always thought Donovan was a bit of a weirdo. Not too keen.

"Turning Japanese" - I love that song.Today was the first time I had heard it for years! Thanks :-)

"Howzat" - Another winner and this particular song brings back some great memories of being a mad teenager in Walsall.

"Rivers Of Babylon" - YEEEEUUUCCHH!!! I hated Boney M (sorry).

"Wuthering Heights" - I prefer "The Man With The Child In His Eyes" - that really is one of my all time favourite songs - and Kate Bush's best.

"Careless Whisper" - YEEEEUUUUCHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I hate George Michael's music (sorry).

"Jealous Guy" - Not Roxy Music's best but OK. I prefer "Love Is The Drug", "Avalon" and "Virginia Plain".

The rest? I'm not familiar with them.

Not a bad choice, Pand - apart from the YEEEUUCHHHHH ones.




Jackie K said...

OH MY GOD I loved ALL of these songs, how did I leave most of them off my list??
Love your memories too.
My patents were big into music and had a cabinet full of albums and singles which they played all the time. Always music in our house when I was a kid, and mostly pretty cool too (until we hit the 80s and their taste moved to "adult contemporary")

Jackie K said...

Also - great first kiss memory you lucky thing.
I saw Bryan Ferry in concert in my twenties and he was fantastic.

magical_m said...

So, ummmm.... Andrew Ridgeley married Keren Woodward (the dark haired one from Bananarama). And Shirlie Hollman (one half of Pepsi & Shirlie - Wham's back up singers) married Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet. She now runs George Michael's fan club.

Don't ask me how I know this fact. It's just been sitting there in my brain for years, along with the lyrics to 80s sitcom themes. Completely useless 99% of the time, but quite useful for trivia nights.