What is the first song you ever heard on vinyl, cassette or radio?
If I was a cool kid on the block, I’d state it was the rocking sound of U2’s Mysterious Ways that used to play regularly on the radio when I was little. However as much as I wish it were U2, my first song I heard on cd/cassette (showing my age here) was Billy Ray Cyrus and his Achy Breaky Heart.
Having just admitted my love for Billy Ray, much to my embarrassment, I’m not sure what attracted me in the first place. Was it the country vibe of Billy’s voice as he crooned, the plaid shoulders that made my 2 year old heart stutter or the hideous 80’s mullet? Whatever the hell it was, it sure made my little denim covered backside dip, sway and swing to the beat as I danced around the lounge room.
Days before iPods, the internet and Youtube/Vevo being a thing, we had the sinful delight of saving up our pocket money or wages and purchasing one thing that made our lives go round. Scratch resistant, large and small plastic black discs that were made out of vinyl housed our favourite bands and artists. These artists and vinyls would bring a sense of purpose to our lives after a busy day at work, whilst we lay back with a joint being rolled between our nimble fingers on the lounge room floor.
Apart from the questionable amount of dope lying around in our possession, all that was needed to start the Groove Train was a tiny, delicate needle and when the sound was louder, it brought around a better mood and atmosphere.
However like many good things that enter our lives, vinyls would soon become replaced with the compact mechanics called a Walkman and the easily accessible, cassette tapes. Encased in hard plastic, the ribbon that lived inside of cassette tapes would see us spend more time with fingers, pens and pencils deeply embedded in the round, spiky hole rather than actually enjoying the music.
More times than I care to admit, there would be countless trips down the freeway as a child were I’d be singing and the next, dead silence would fill the car because the tape had decided to have a hissy fit and get stuck. Everyone’s favourite moment would be when the DJ on the radio announced our favourite song at the time was “only five songs away” and we’d be fixing that temperamental little bastard quickly just so we could record the song.
With our little bastard fixed, primed and waiting hopefully on the correct side, we’d have a mini practice test of hitting the record and play button and then, it was go time. It was an adrenaline and aggression fueled few minutes of our lives.
However with the introduction of the Walkman and tapes, The Buggles predicated Video Killed The Radio Star with the further introduction of cds, MTV, iPods and the ever expanding world of Youtube in the 21st century. Though they may have predicted the rather unfortunate death of The Radio Star, The Buggles weren’t able to predict the future of how a ten year old girl would become fascinated and curious with her parent’s collection of embedded secrets on vinyl.
My first memory and introduction to what music sounded like before my era was brought about when I lifted the needle to my Father’s record player and the hallowing sounds of Stairway To Heaven crept and crawled its way out of the speakers. With a few years added onto my belt of wisdom and my rather unfortunate obsession with Right Said Fred, my parents would often find me lying on the ground in the lounge room.
Where I would be surrounded by records, spanning two or more decades and different genres and names. Having soaked up bass thumping Billy Idol with his Sweet Sixteen and discovering why his Rebel Yell-ed before swapping that vinyl for piano bashing and melody thumping Elton John, where I’d hear the story about Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.
It can be said in those few short hours of having the house to myself that I would be floating merrily in the sea of treble clefts, four four or four eight beats and music notes or it could have been a result of having smoked a joint. No one will really know.
However when the needle couldn’t withstand the pressure anymore and would shatter, I’d feel a sense of loss but that feeling would be fleeting as my cassette tapes would be pulled out of hiding. Like many children that lived in the era of having a Walkman and cassette tapes, when I wasn’t listening to my parent’s vinyls than I was locked away in my bedroom with my tapes. The one and only cassette that springs to mind because it was my most played tape was the album penned by the first white male rapper from 8 Mile.
My first memory and thought of how I was introduced to the truth of Eminem‘s life and stories would be when I was given his ‘The Eminem Show’ cassette as a 12 year old. It wouldn’t be until I was 15 and still coming to terms that I was stuck in the middle of nowhere that I played Eminem for the first time and understood why I kept it after all that time.
Enclosed and locked away in my bedroom with a “fuck off” sign emblazed on it, I placed his tape into my stereo and sat back. Now at the age of twenty something and having successfully worn my tape down to nothing, I am a firm believer Eminem was hinting at the future whilst spreading his ‘fuck you’ message.
If you don’t understand what I’m speaking of than I recommended plugging in your headphones and listening to ‘White America‘.
Now when I’m not rapping out to Eminem or telling Lois “I’m cleaning out my closet”, with twenty something years of music spanning across a large demographic of genres and artists, music has been a large part of my life. It has become more apparent since starting college and some four years, hundreds of thousands of words and countless kilometers driven for each placement undertaken, my life and music choices have become split into three different categories.
Each category represents an integral part of my growing process both as a music listener and lover but also as a college student undertaking studies and assignments. Each song that has been played through this tough and mentally draining period of my life have been categorised and as a result, have witnessed a lot of things. After 20+ years of listening, experiencing and writing my own music, music is and always will be a fundamental necessity in my life.
So if you are curious about the tracks that get repeated or the time I listened to Wrecking Ball for a whole semester (13 weeks) straight while writing an assignment, I have some pretty unusual songs. Or if you’re need of listening to something whilst pottering around the house as you procrastinate a bit more than here are some suggestions:
My 2500 Word Assignment On Hell: Wrecking Ball, Miley Cryus; Holdin On, Flume; LSD, ASAP Rocky; Tiny Dancer, Elton John; Under Pressure, Queen; Whip It, Devo; Hukana Matata, Lion King Soundtrack; Better Than, John Butler Trio; Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, Culture Club; Fuck You, Lily Allen.
Placement Is Literally Killing Me: Hold Me Now, Thompson Twins; Pass The Dutchie, Musical Youth; Don’t Know Why, Norah Jones; Fast In My Car, Paramore; Hold On, We’re Going Home, Drake; Crazy, Gnarls Barkley; Stronger, Kanye West; Murder On The Dance Floor, Sophie Ellis Baxter; Woke Up This Morning, Alabama 3.
Fuck College: Somebody Kill Me, Adam Sandler; Money, The Flying Lobsters; I Want To Break Free, Queen; Started From The Bottom, Drake; Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin; I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, U2; Kashmir, Led Zeppelin; Grow Up, Paramore; Bitch Better Have My Money, Rihanna; Dog Days Are Over, Florence + The Machine; Brain Box, Hilltop Hoods.
If you don’t know me better Dearest Reader, the first and last song often represent the first thought that enters my mind when I think of my assignments/placement. As you can imagine come this Friday when I finish part 1 of my rotation, I will be playing Alabama 3.
To finish off this post, I’ll quote Adam Sandler from the Wedding Singer and say, “Okay, I just want to warn you… I was listening to the Cure a lot”.
Until next time,