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My life in albums: 1997: The wander year

Everybody has a musical awakening story, and a musical skeleton in the closet. Despite my relatively awesome beginnings, my life in albums almost went off the rails in my first year of really liking music. My sisters and I used to watch Rage on a Saturday morning. And before I’d really discovered the magic of radio we used to make mix tapes by holding the tape recorder up to the speakers.

One of the songs on high rotation on Rage in that year was Hanson’s Mmmbop. Still a catchy little number. Even if Taylor does look remarkably feminine.

My sisters were hooked. This album was on high rotation in our house. All the time. I know all the words to all the songs. My middle sister bonded with her now husband when they sang some Hanson songs together after church one night, their “recessional”, or whatever the song at the end of the wedding ceremony is, was another Hanson song, and at their wedding reception I used the song Madeleine to draw people’s attention back from their conversations to the original proceedings (that’s my sister’s name). Anonymity lost.

But for me, it was perhaps a darker musical year. One week my attention turned to Video Hits after Rage. I remember it like it was yesterday. This song came on. Some guys were walking into a haunted house. The music started. There was thunder. And then there was boy band magic. And some sort of werewolf.

I got on my pushbike and rode down to my sisters’ netball games on the other side of town. In Maclean, NSW. So not far. The song playing over and over in my head.

Am I original? Yeah.
Am I the only one? Yeah…

I saved up my pocket money ($2 a week plus mowing money in those days). And one day, on a trip to the Gold Coast, I think Pacific Fair. I had a look around Toys’R’Us. And a couple of other shops. And then walked into Big W. And came out a changed man. If not for that moment I would not have been bullied at school for a whole year, for thinking that the Backstreet Boys were cutting edge and awesome. I read the liner notes, and most of them thanked Jesus. So they were Christians too. And back then, at the age of 13, I thought Christian music was pretty cool. In fact, a year later, a Christian band called Aroma opened my eyes to rock (listen to the song Maggot here). And from there… well, you’ll have to wait until 1998’s post.

These were the only videos I could find easily and embed…

If I recall, there was a certain very good friend of mine (I won’t name – but he blogs and I’ve linked to him heaps, and he likes Pixar) who borrowed my CD and also enjoyed it.

My Life in Albums: Introduction

I was cleaning up my iTunes yesterday, getting rid of duplicates and rubbish that I downloaded back in the heady days of Napster. Monty Python sketches are better on YouTube anyway. Especially performed by 419 scammers who have been scambaited.

Like this one.

Anyway. I digress. I was feeling a little nostalgic as I deleted dross and re-listened to some tunes I hadn’t listened to for a long time. So I undertook a little exercise. I tried to match an album to every year of my life. It wasn’t necessarily limited to an album released that year. It was more about finding an album that defines my memory of a year. It wasn’t even necessarily an album I owned. In one many cases in the early years I picked albums belonging to my parents (some I have since either pinched from them or purchased) It was fun. Sometimes I couldn’t split a couple of options. Here’s my list. I’m going to turn these into a bit of a series of posts. Because I can. Feel free to join in – comment with your musical memories.

The early years

  • ABC for Kids, numbered albums
  • Peter Combe, Toffee Apple (I think, I might be guessing here)
  • Don Spencer, Feathers, Fur or Fins
  • Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms
  • Paul Simon, Graceland
  • The Proclaimers, Sunshine on Leith
  • Arlo Guthrie, The Best Of
  • Tommy Emmanuel, The Journey Continues
  • Jennie Flack’s Mugwumps and Snookles (though the more I look at her discography the more I think we had some sort of bootleg hybrid of her tapes, and Bullfrogs and Butterflies

Year by year

  • 1997 – Backstreet’s Back – The Backstreet Boys, Hanson – Middle of Nowhere
  • 1998 – The Living End – Self Titled
  • 1999 – Powderfinger – Internationalist, The Whitlams – Eternal Nightcap
  • 2000 – The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream, Custard – The Best of
  • 2001 – Dandy Warhols – Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia
  • 2002 – Muse – Showbiz, Weezer – The Blue Album, Radiohead – OK Computer
  • 2003 – Muse – Absolution, Placebo – Sleeping with Ghosts
  • 2004 – Radiohead – Hail to the Thief, Eskimo Joe – a song is a city
  • 2005 – The Killers – Hot Fuss, Death Cab for Cutie – Plans
  • 2006 – Gomez – How we operate
  • 2007 – Gotye – Like Drawing Blood, The Panics – Cruel Guards, Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga
  • 2008 – Athlete – Beyond the Neighbourhood, Architecture in Helsinki – Places Like This
  • 2009 – Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More
  • 2010 – Whitley – Go Forth, Find Mammon

Knowing me, knowing you… the Izaac Edition

I don’t know if this will become a regular feature… but it might. I’ve been thinking a bit about the intersection between blog life and real life. And these thoughts were stirred by Izaac when, in the comments of a recent post, he revealed how he “knows” me.

Of all the bloggers in the blogosphere (except Paul, but he never updates) I have known Izaac the longest (again, unless you count dad’s design blog… I guess…).

Here’s the story (as told by Izaac)…

“I grew up with Nathan in Maclean. He introduced me to Phantom comics – which I borrowed regularly for about 6 months until I lost interest. We had games of touch football or cricket every week after church in the church grounds until they installed a drain and a kid’s play area, which put an end to that. As Nathan was the year above me at school I think we bonded more as we got older – including after his family moved to Mitchelton. A select few of us have kept in touch from those days – I think Nathan may have trouble making new friends (he’s gonna love that one). I randomly appeared at his 21st birthday because though living in Sydney I was doing a radiography prac at the Gold Coast. I helped build the steps in his parentals front yard as well as wheelbarrowing in woodchips into the garden. On the said mentioned trip he introduced me to ‘black books’ which I didn’t find particularly funny. He was MC at my wedding. I returned the favour. S and I are about to visit Nathan and Robyn in Townsville. He couldn’t convince me to come to Brisbane to do Bible College together. He will name his first born son after anyone but me.”

I remember it quite differently.

Izaac was a scrawny little kid with an unnatural ability with a football. Sadly. He was, and is, a St George fan. We used to go camping at Brooms Head at the same time as his family, and we would play touch football together. Though when Beach Mission was on he hung out with the fun teens playing football and I had to go to the boring teens program where they talked about the Bible. I was jealous.

One of my finest memories of Izaac, well, my first memorable memories, was superimposing his head onto a scanned version of a St George player’s head. This picture still sits, framed, in his lounge room. I know that because it was there when we visited last year.

Izaac lived four doors up from Paul on Clarence Street in Maclean. I used to wish I lived on Clarence Street. But it was a big hill. And it would have sucked to walk up it every day on the way home from primary school.

I found a video of Izaac last year when I was making a video for dad’s 50th and another one for little sister number two’s 21st. I will perhaps track it down and post it. On that video Izaac stole my video camera and ran away with it. He was cruel at times. But he was funny so I forgave him. And he once borrowed my Backstreet Boys CD. Yes. I owned a Backstreet Boys CD. Yes. It is something I feel ashamed about.

Here’s a photo of Izaac MCing at my wedding. He’s the one with the microphone.

On our visit to Sydney last year we managed to coincide our trip with one of his preaching engagements for the year. He was good. I think he’ll make a very capable minister, though I’m sad I couldn’t convince him to come to Brisbane for college. We had a good time with him, and his wife, who on the internet is known as S (I know her real name. That’s how close we are) we showed them bits of Sydney that I remembered from childhood – like the Mediterranean dessert place in Croydon Park, and Reverse Garbage. Then I went to a football game with Izaac and stood with the crazy St George army while they insulted Rabbitohs fans.

If you have any questions about Izaac feel free to ask me about him. I consider myself an expert on the topic.

Crap Sound 2

Wow. So I stirred up a hornets nest of angry female commenters (and one male), eager to defend U2’s honour.

And I regret nothing.

I thought about it, and for a while I decided that I was being harsh, that it’s wrong to judge people on the basis of their musical taste. But then I decided that’s exactly what I do. I am unapologetically prejudiced when it comes to Music. That’s why I own a T-Shirt that says “I hate the bands you like” and another that says “you have bad taste in music”… In fact. If you like U2 you should go to this site. Consider it an online support group.

I measure people – and how much I have in common with them – by what’s on their CD shelf, iPod, DVD rack or book shelf. And why shouldn’t I. You no doubt judge me on things equally superficial.

Will I not love you on that basis? No. Robyn had some Christian music CDs when we started dating – and some equally embarrassing music, and I have the Backstreet Boys as a musical skeleton in my closet. I still love her (and she me), though we disagree.

For those not reading the comments here’s some of what went down (well, what I said… other people can make their own points known in the comments – or on their own blogs)…

“Understanding that something is a subjective taste should not stop me objecting to the subjective taste of others.

I don’t like modern fashion – should I not be allowed to voice my opinion on that? Besides, I see providing all these alternative bands as a public service to my readers.

I wonder too, if the label “alternative” could just be applied to “those bands not trying to be U2″.”

Here are the things I’ve actually said about U2 (in the comments on other posts):

  • “If you listen to U2 your musical taste is boring and your (clef) palate undefined.”
  • “This article pretty much sums up why I don’t like U2 ”
  • “They’re also not very good. Musically or lyrically. In my opinion. They are champions of inoffensive blandness.”
  • “I’m happy for you to like U2. I’m sure you have reasons. I don’t like U2.”
  • “It’s where I write my opinion. On things. Like U2. And how they should retire. They used to be cool. Now they’re old men. ”
  • “I wonder too, if the label “alternative” could just be applied to “those bands not trying to be U2″.”
  • “Why listen to one band that tries to appeal to every aspect of musicallity and becomes middle of the road when you can embrace diversity which lets you appreciate the whole road, bit by bit?”
  • “There’s six bands in a list of five bands that I find more sonically pleasurable than U2″
  • “Bono’s public Christianity makes him a bit of a sacred cow. But I don’t like to criticise things without offering solutions here are 5 bands that are better than U2. In my opinion”

Taste in music

I am a music snob. This will come as no surprise to some of you out there. Other people (perhaps Townsville people who’ve seen me lead the singing in church) will question my right to hold such a position based on my demonstrated lack of actual musical ability. Still others may argue that musical taste is a matter of personal taste and therefore should be judged subjectively, and on that basis my musical snobbery is yet another form of arrogance.

I haven’t always been a music snob – in fact the darkest skeleton in my closet is an old Backstreet Boys album** (it’s not literally in my closet having been donated to the Campbell family music collection some time ago – perhaps it should have been donated to the Smith family… but that would hardly have been charitable).

I was recently directed to a website that I’m sure will amuse my fellow music snobs. It’s the brain child of Eman Laerton (which backwards is Not real name). A mysterious caped crusader fighting the good fight against bad, derivative music. I’d recommend you spend some time there appreciating all the fine videos. I’d particularly recommend the Evanescence one.

“If Linkin Park is the derivative – what do you call the derivative of the derivative?”*

This site is the coolest thing I’ve found online since discovering Strong Bad and friends at The download times are well worth it – I’ve been literally LOLing for days.
Special thanks go to housemate Dave (as opposed to other Daves, of which, it must be said, there are many) for sending me to this site. I can only hope that further Eman Laerton productions are equally amusing.

I must confess at this point to owning a Linkin Park album, it was a rainy day, I was walking through Target, and it was pretty cheap… That’s all I have to say in my defence.
** The nice thing about writing blog entries is that they don’t have to be linear – I have no defence for buying this album apart from youthful naivety… I should point out in my defence that I did grow up listening to Simon and Garfunkel – and surely that gives me some credibility.

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