The Long Play


Saturday, 1 August 2015

In my teenage years in the 80's we had big, cumbersome storage devices.  The floppy discs I worked on as a typesetter were huge, but not as huge as the LPs we played on our turntables.  LPs were good; the cover art was big, lyrics were often supplied, so you could sing along as you sat, without computers, tablets and phones to distract you, and listened to an album in its entirety.  Sometimes it was hard to put the stylus on the record without scratching it, it was so small - especially if you just had to listen to a particular album after you'd been out drinking the two cans of UDL vodka and orange that got you drunk for the night. 

It wasn't too far past the 70's so apart from big storage devices we also had big pubic hair.  No one had yet told us that carrying our pubes around au naturale was a hideousness beyond belief, and so therefore when you looked at us side-on in our underwear, there were ever so slight bulges of soft and fluffy pubic hair.  Some of those pubes occasionally poked through your undies, if you ran your fingers over their outsides.   Pubes are horribly condemned.  They're just trying to protect us, after all.

But this is not about pubic hair.  This is about my record collection.   Or what's left of it.

I had more albums than this.  There were my Mum's old original Beatles albums, Please Please Me and Hard Day's Night.  There were others that were probably pretty good as well but I will never know because they have disappeared.  I like to presume they were stolen from the garage when I lived in Braybrook.  I don't want to cast nasturtiums on any one person, but my bias would like to say it was Dylan, who rented the house in front of the granny flat I rented at the back.

I tend to think it was Dylan because he was basically a bit of a prick, really.  When I moved out, broke as usual, and he still hadn't paid me the money he owed me for bills, he simply ignored my text messages asking, nay pleading, for the 300 bucks.  Some people are just quite simply arseholes with very little concern for other people.  Dylan indeed was one of them.  His girlfriend Jane drove around in a pink car with "Janey" numberplates and when I looked at them I saw future domestic violence written across her face.  I hope Jane has upgraded.

So yes, the missing albums.  I also can't find a large stack of singles I had.  Some of them were truly ghastly.  Others were daggy one-offs that I'm happy to lay claim to, like 5705 (but there's no reply!)  And who can go past the wonderful Ah! Leah! by the punctuation-loving Donnie Iris?  Never heard of it?  Well, where have you been?  Get onto this 3 minutes of pure pop/rock awesomeness with self-deprecating nerdy-wish-fulfillment right this second!  The bit at the end where he's sing-screaming to Leah makes all the chest feels go all chest feely for me, just like it did all the way through the 80's.

The singles could possibly be around somewhere because my organisational capacities are malformed, and with my drastic energy levels are quite chaotic.  I just got my 2009 tax return done three months ago.  It's possible also that I have some cassettes lying around, although surely not by now?  Surely, the once-a-decade clean-up that happened in the 2000s took care of the cassettes?  I would have seen them, known it was time, and felt horribly guilty throwing them in the rubbish bin.  I hate living in a world where we produce so much shit!  My cassettes are probably making up part of that giant plastic island that lives in the Specific Ocean.

I do have some cassettes still though.  They are from the time in the early 90's when I was penpalling a guy in Arizona State Prison from my rental house in Noble Park who had put an advert in one of the music mags.  He used to whisper quietly into his tape deck's microphone.  Occasionally I would hear an iron door close in the distance.  He paused the recording a lot.  He drew a picture of me once.  He used to say, "Mercy, girl," and in the end it kind of creeped me out a bit because it just felt ... I don't know, like suddenly it was a commitment to be writing to this guy.  One day I just never wrote back.

I'm sure he was a lovely guy in his way, even despite the fact that the internet shows me that he is still in jail, after being released for some time.  One day I will bring myself to listen to those cassettes, there luckily being several cassette decks lying around these here parts.  But I'm having to build up to listening to them.  I feel like listening to them will make me feel squishy, embarrassed. I don't really know why.  I wish I would hurry up and have built up to listen, because those tapes are going to be like a time capsule from 20 years ago.  I really only want to listen to them to hear what James from Arizona feeds back to me about what Sue from Noble Park was doing and thinking at that particular point in time.

So that photo above is all there is to hand of the pre-digital music that made up my teenage years in the 80's - if you don't count the videos.  VHS video tapes came in somewhere around 1987.  I still have a few of those lying around as well.  I don't really know why.  I suspect I had this idea of transferring the music clips I taped off the TV onto something more digital, little knowing that YouTube most likely has got there first.  Or has it?  I mean, what are the chances that YouTube is going to have something obscure that I might find on those tapes if I looked that I would be horrified at the thought of losing again, after our enforced separation through chancing mediums for 30 years?  Surely coming across an old, well-loved musical treasure that you'd forgotten clean about is ... oh, I don't know, it's like the ultimate in musical spirituality.  That kinda reclamation can transport me for days.

So these albums.  This small little Dylan-depleted bunch of stuff that, quite frankly, is hardly representational of the music I loved, and the music I would grow to love in the future.  I mean, I was a teenage girl, right?  Some of it will be actually quite embarrassing.  And it's for that reason that it is going to be a pleasure to trawl through them, one after the other, as little possibly feet-curling memory portals back to a time when my hair was as huge as my pubes, climate change wasn't a conscious thing, and I would have been disturbed to discover that as emotionally wrangled as I was then, I would still continue to be so when more collagen-depleted, writing an excessively long sentence to end a blog post on a medium that I knew absolutely nothing of.

Stay tuned.