My relationship with music has always been a sentimental one. And seriously so. Sure, sometimes that means my ‘emotions’ get the better of me.
Like the time I became so obsessed with Dixie Chick’s version of Landslide I had to put my headphones in to listen to it … while out at a club with friends.
There was also the time I sobbed like Dawson while watching James Blake work his magic at Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona.
It’s also deeply emotional every time I proclaim Mariah Carey’s Fantasy to be the greatest song of all time, which happened as recently as last weekend.
But it’s not just about the music. I always loved the full experience. Shopping for the music, starting with what looked like a perfect poker hand fanned out across my hungry paws before inevitably whittling it down to a more manageable pair, always hoping for blackjack (or at least not two jokers).
As soon as these pieces of my musical history arrived home my eyes would devour every word of their inner sleeve. “Oh, they wrote that?! Wow, he produced that other song I love too! Pffft, sure Britney Spears co-wrote eight of these songs on her new album …”
Plus, the thank yous proved quite the study guide on a musician’s influences and also their celebrity BFFs. It was a very well rounded education I gave myself, indeed. The most important test of my life wasn’t at school, it was at the pub for Tuesday night trivia or the crossword on the back pages of Who Weekly.
Then, just over three years ago I downloaded my first album. The album was Kanye West’s Yeezus and it was an act borne of total necessity because the digital copy came out a week before the physical one and I just couldn’t wait that long. I also bought the physical one a week later because that’s the kind of OCD I have. You know, the one where you need to complete a set of music but not any actual productive life activities.
Since then I’ve actually switched to downloading as my main stream for music. I could pretend it was a sacrifice born of me learning that CD cases actually make a sinful amount of landfill but it’s more to do with convenience, instant gratification and laziness. Meanwhile, who are these people throwing away CDs into the land? Send them all to me and I can be to modern(ish) day music what Mother Theresa was to orphans.
Importantly, my sentimental relationship with music didn’t die with that original download nor any of the ones to come after. I still have all the CDs I ever bought, including a large box of highly treasured CD singles. They are all back in Melbourne hopefully being fed and watered regularly and singing each other lullabies, while their papa ‘is out for a beer’ … for the last six years … in London. Sleep tight my little mongrel orchestra. Papa will come back for you one day, I promise.
Accompanying them is also all my cassette tapes, including the oldest, my first bought. The still ‘single’ Do Anything.
In 1991, at the ripe old age of ten, the cassingle Do Anything by Natural Selection was bestowed the honour of my very first musical purchase (it joined ‘88 the Winners, Bananarama, Bros and Poison, all of which I’d had gifted to me).
Do Anything is widely considered to be a song that basically no one’s ever heard of but more narrowly I consider it a stone cold classic. If I’m honest, its lack of notoriety really makes me question just how much of an early music-taste prodigy I really was. Until I just checked the internet and confirm it reached #2 in America and #10 in Australia, so crisis averted and Mum’s $1.99 can officially be recorded as a ‘sound’ investment.
I do have to admit it wasn’t my first choice. I really wanted Prince’s Cream, which I was totally obsessed with, but even as a starry-eyed pre-pubescent I presumed there was more to that song than dairy. My sister had paved the way on this subject years earlier when Dad allegedly made a sacrificial singing-lamb of her copy of Madonna’s Like a Virgin. Her story was seriously the stuff of folk’s-law folklore.
While that might make Do Anything sound like the safer choice, in hindsight it wasn’t and this has only increased its sentimental value even more over the years.
Sure, it sounds so totally ‘of-the-moment’ with the loose 90s beat, the endearingly cheesy lyrics “make it smooth to the groove like sandwich bread” and, of course, the so-out-of-place-it-fits guest rap but what’s sentimentality without a little nostalgia?
I still genuinely love this song and I’m proud of its long lasting impact on me and my relationship with music – both the music and the experience. Against all odds that rap verse has probably played a big role in my love for hip hop music. Thankfully it was an appropriate tutorial for a 10 year old.
Taking all that into account it wasn’t just a sentimental choice but also a smart one. Given its impact on me, I’m surprised I haven’t made more of these smarter choices in life. Maybe I was too busy focusing on the ‘do anything’ part.