One thing I’ve always done, in the long tradition so well represented in Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” is make mix-tapes. I used to spend entire days of entire weekends making up tapes from my ever-expanding record collection. Sometimes they would be mood compilations (songs to listen to while you’re angry, sad, wronged..) sometimes they were attempts to lift such moods, where they would begin in the depths of self-absorbtion (“How Soon Is Now” by the Smiths) and then mix and blend – as seamlessly as a ‘pause’ button would allow until I found myself dancing behind the carefully closed curtains of my bedroom to the likes of Technotronic.
There were the ones that played my favourite songs by year, or my favourite track from each album (excluding those that had been released as singles) or even my favourite songs starting with the letter “B”.
It almost seems sometimes that everything important in my life has a soundtrack. The last week of completion of my 5th Form art folio (the birth of my lifelong habit of all-nighters to meet a deadline) to the repeated and repeated sounds of Suzanne Vega’s first (self-titled) album. The summer spent in Wanaka listening to Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. The Cure (escapes in Poppy); The Smiths (Late night bedrooms); Look Blue Go Purple and I “Circumspect Penelope”-ing all the way from Dunedin to Wanaka in the Austin Maxi with the sailboard on the roof, my brother at my side and high spirits in the heart; rdu’s P3 (when Matt O’Brien was the DJ) on my walkman whilst battling the Thursday night NE headwinds on my bike on the way back to Sumner after a day’s work at the station.
My earliest musical memory must come from about the age of 7 where I went to Long Beach with my Dad (we had Sundays with Dad and he took us on adventures) in his friend’s Rover. We were sitting in the sun listening to the radio and 10CC’s “Dreadlock Holiday” came on, it was a hit at the time and Dad liked it (so did I). His friends gave him hassles and that day turned out to be my first recollection of a couple of other things. It was the first time I recognised someone standing up to peer pressure – my Dad has a very calm certainty about his views, a very good role-model for peaceful resistance. It was also the first time (of course this has happened countless times since then) I found myself to be transfixed by the sight of a man’s body. I don’t even remember who it was. Someone who was mowing the lawns. Somewhere deep down, I knew I was going to be in for trouble over this, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes off the guy. I instantly jumped into a parrallel universe and in many ways I think I’ve been observing the world from over here ever since…
I didn’t know at the time that there were ‘parallel universe’ reasons that I actually enjoyed our family ABBA-singing road trips to Clyde in the Datsun 260c. I know all the words to 5 of their albums. Doomed from the start, I was. I drew the line at Julio Iglesias however – but as irony would have it, I was teaching aerobics to the music of his son 20 years later. I like to blame my Julio-phile mum for that one.
I listened to Cocteau Twins and Talk Talk and wore out my flatmate’s copy of the Flying Nun compilation “In Love With These Times” when I used to live in Leith Street East (Just behind the beautiful old University of Otago Registry building). I was doing aerobics by then, and I’m one of the few that know that Underworld has been around a very long time because my first ever aerobics track was choreographed to a song by them called “Underneath the Radar”.
Les Mills Aerobics and the very handsome and distant Steve Renata introduced me to “Nutbush City Limits” and so my path into the world of pitch-shifted cheesy dance remakes was set.
What song does my iTunes music player tell me I have played more often than any other in the last 5 years? Wait for it… “Love Da Sunshine” which is a remake of, you guessed it “Dreadlock Holiday” by 10CC and which comes as part of the Les Mills Aerobics BODYATTACK 40 relaease. You may not believe me, but I didn’t check that until now. Spooky Possums.
If I eliminate the aerobics tracks, the most played of all time track in my iTunes music collection is “For the Love of Big Brother” By the Eurythmics – from their soundtrack to the film of the George Orwell novel 1984. Now do you believe that my penchant is for melancholy music?
(Thanks to Matthew for bringing some perspective to the matter and unblocking my blogging channels.)