I consider myself quite lucky and fortunate to have many fond memories on my childhood and how I was introduced to the art form of music. Today, one of my fondest memories is how I grew up educating my next door neighbours on my musical preferences by holding ‘live’ concerts from my bedroom or study room.
Being one of four children and with a couple of cats thrown in, I grew up in a household that was liberal on sexual orientation as our Mother actively encouraged us to discuss and ask questions on sex and relationships. Even now as a twenty-something adult, Lois still actively speaks about her relationships with my Father, Red; while my Dad on the other hand, squirms in his seat when you bring up sex. But is very go-forth with his mantra on asking ‘male orientated’ questions like “do your testicles get itchy?”
However, growing up as a child and teenager under my parent’s roof, there were some things that my parents weren’t willing to shift their opinions on and these were: curfews and bed times, giving up our education to be a “bum” and sibling rivalry that caused punches to be thrown. This was until my very wise mother introduced the ‘you get a free punch’ rule and sure enough, after receiving a well-aimed punch a few times, we soon learnt our lesson.
After that last punch was given, we decided that physically hitting one another wasn’t the brightest idea and called it a day. However even when we weren’t belting the shit out of one another and being sent to time out by a very tired and over-it Lois as my Dad slept the hours away as children and teenagers; the one thing all six of us could agree with was the importance of music as well as the significance and necessity of having access to it.
In fact even now at the age of twenty-something, I still opt to live within the heavily structured world that my parents spent years constructing and forming. So when it did come time to being an adult and an independent person from The O’Chunkys’, I knew my family would continue to support me while I stepped out and did whatever I’d set my mind on doing while being comforted by my memories and collection of musical notes.
Though a majority of people would state their parents played music while growing up or they accidentally stumbled upon a song or band by pure Fate or mistake, I often think about my own story and how I came to be a collector of songs, bands and genres. Rather than thinking that it was a mistake or Fate, even though she did play a small hand in the outcome of what would be my life, my first introduction as to what awaited me outside of the womb all began with 42nd Street.
Even as I am told of the story with mirth and much wonder because my Mother had been told from a very young age that there was a little to no chance she could have or carry children and she should give up on the dream of being a mother, the only time that I was silent within her protective womb was during intermission. Apart from those few and very brief moments of relief, the words used to describe this particular moment are:
“You danced so hard that at one point of time, I thought I was going to go into premature labour. I basically kept my legs crossed tightly, prayed to the Lord it wouldn’t happen and thought about the moment that I would be a mother in due time.”
Although I do not apologise nor hold any ounces of remorse for leaving my Mother black and blue from the sheer velocity of bruises I left after my dancing expedition, my Grandparents paved the way to my ultimate true love and all things musically orientated. So much so, my fondest memory I get to share with my Grandfather featured the child version of myself and their bed.
It was in these moments of my older cousin and Grandmother cooking away in the kitchen, my Grandfather and I would be heavily absorbed in what was playing on the television. When I wasn’t watching Madonna spin around in front of a church choir dressed in black before sinking to the floor, my Grandfather was encouraging my appreciation, love and knowledge based on all things Opera and as a result, a rather bright 6 year old would have debates on the relevance of costumes, story and plot lines as well as the choice of actors used with her Grandfather.
By encouraging my love and fascination for all things Opera and classical music, I grew up listening to the wonderfully strings of Madam Butterfly, the harrowing and gut wrenching sounds of Carmen as well as the shake your tail feather bluesy-jazz tones of The Blue Brothers. I also developed a fondness and overall impacting love for the emotionally-heart wrenching soundtrack of The Lion King (I recommend listening to the Broadway version) and the wonderfully seductive tones from the uplifting and mind clearing sounds of my favourite ballets, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.
When thinking about these mind-melting moments of pure joy and content, my all time favourite memory would be the time I jumped off what seemed like a six foot high bed while wielding a rubber chicken like it was a sword. After watching Pirates of Penzance and declaring that I wanted to be a pirate with magical powers (if only comes to mind!), I dashed out of the bedroom after stabbing my Grandfather with my rubber chicken sword while singing the complicated mind and tongue twisting-twist of lyrics of I am the very model of a modern Major-General
Now when I wasn’t doing an Irish jig within the womb or declaring I would become a famous pirate feared by sailors around the globe, I was introduced as a newborn to the wonders of live bands as a family friend at the time used to perform in a band. With the image of a newborn sleeping deeply through the steady crashing of symbols and guitar strings being plucked within an inch of life, I have grown up with the amusing and captivating tales and stories.
One of my many favourite stories to date is how this particular family friend of my parents decided he would do a live performance and while recording his video, he would dance in front of the licking and howling winded cane fires in Northern New South Wales. The intriguing detail that I am failing to mention is: while he danced and sang away in front of this cane fire in the early hours of the morning, there was only but a couple of metres separating him from the fire and when filming had wrapped, his black leather had partially melted from the heat.
I believe this proves that there is nothing really anything an artist wouldn’t do to capture demographically entertaining and captivating features. Sadly enough, this wonderful piece of creative art isn’t available for the consumer to absorb and almost makes you wish that you’d been there to watch it in person.
Other moments that come to my mind like a vision of flash colours, incredibly loud music and heart stopping periods of sheer laughter and giddy happiness include the imprinted image of my childish and delicate two year old body laying side by side my six foot Uncle as I listened to the drumming and heart throbbing sounds of Metallica being blasted through a pair of headphones. While I may have appeared to have rolled and smoked a motherf*cker (an incredibly large joint) and now lay comatosed on the ground as my Mother stood over me, I no doubt would have let the heavy bass and beat flow over my little body as I enjoyed spending those brief moments with him.
As to other stories that I’ve written and shared with you in the past, I was a child of a musical era that featured heavily on rock concerts such as my brush with fame when stalking Humphrey B. Bear and The Wiggles (childhood rock legends of the 90’s!) and my epic tantrum when leaving after INXS. When finding out that my Grandparents lived up the road from Michael and both they and my Mother frequently spotted Kylie and Michael together, I may have been a little jealous as a teenager.
When I wasn’t busily stalking Humphrey like we were besties while screaming out “Hump Me, it’s me!” as I karate chopped children and adults out of my way or throwing tantrums when the concerts finished, I was dancing with my Greek Godmother’s eldest daughters and my own Mother, who wore a multicoloured stripped buttoned shirt with salmon coloured pants to Margaret Ulrich. Margaret was one of the many artists that Lois used to play alongside Simply Red and my three year old heartthrob, Billy Ray Cyrus.
When my siblings had been created and birthed, Lois’ collection of cassette tape had grown considerably and my life consisted of The Commitments, The Rockmelons, Colour Me Badd and the legendary, Prince. When not tapping my tiny child-like feet repeatedly against the front air bag because that’s what you did when the beat was excellent, I was dancing and singing away to whatever graced my ears.
It would be in the back alley street of Sydney and Brisbane, I would hear about new and upcoming bands with a snippet of what their music was based on. In the very second of U2 being effectively taken off air for another less important and news-worthy band, I feel in love with the crooning voice of Bono and The Edge’s musically gifted hands, The Joshua Tree album and Mysterious Ways (not featured on said album).
As my repertoire for music and bands continued to develop with age and I was introduced to the vast collection of vinyl records; as well as a tiny threading needle that would allow for songs of generations gone to blast from the speakers set up in my parent’s lounge room.
I must admit now as an adult who very much still loves her music and educating the neighbours, ‘they’ were the moments I genuinely lived for as a child of any age and eagerly frothed at the mouth for. So much so, while classmates went off to different locations for the weekend or invited friends over for play dates, I would welcome the sounds of Elton’s fingers hitting the keys for ‘Benny and The Jets’ and the harrowing sounds of Led Zeppelin’s Graffiti album.
Even though I welcomed these moments of self-discovery and reprieve from the unknown, my next door neighbours weren’t so fortunate. After promising my parents that I would take care with the record player’s needle as it was incredibly delicate in nature and I would be only allowed to play music loudly from midday to 2pm on a Sunday, there were a couple of times that I heard a groan or there’d be a shout for it to be “cranked up” from over the wooden fence.
More times than I can possibly count, we would provide the entertainment while the neighbours hosted their weekend parties or barbeques and as much I loathed that minute hand ticking away, the music would stop promptly at 2pm. Unlike now, the life as a twenty-something year old allows for the music to continue past 2pm on a Sunday because there is no longer a curfew and I get to play it as loud as I possibly can.
While Mr and Mrs Weirdo, my equally as strange new next door neighbours, continue ignoring the neighbourhood’s offer to formally introduce ourselves alongside a warm welcome like everyone did back in the 50s. For that time and era, it was considered politically correct and polite and I think after twenty plus years of listening, chilling, vibing and embracing all forms of music, I have some parting words for you and they are:
If you find a song, band or even a couple of bars of musical notes that mean everything and so much more to you, don’t be afraid to embrace this feeling and how it relates to your life. Unfortunately, not all parents can be as liberal like my own, so if you need a place to chill and play your music, all you need to do is look for the house with music blasting and simply plug or tune in.
As my very wise and incredibly musically diverse Mother once stated behind the wheel of the car, “Embrace how music can structure and change your life because even when you neglect it, it’ll still be there when you return with open arms.”
Lots of love and musical enjoyment,
Big Little Lies soundtrack.