The reason old nostalgia radio is so addictive to people of a certain age (like me) is because we have so many memories associated with those songs. Even songs that we hated at the time, now come with that same nostalgic ring to it. You can rediscover songs that you forgot, or songs that you refused to like because the school bully liked them, and now you can give yourself permission to say that, actually, November Rain by Gun’s ‘n Roses was actually a pretty decent song. And you might even have the courage to finally state that even after 20 years, you still have no idea what Meatloaf’s song “I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that)” means (an oxymoron in my book!).
But sometimes that memory of the events surrounding a song is so strong, that they will be forever associated with them. Like how I always think of the musical Cabaret when I hear Madonna’s “Fever”, as I snuck out during intermission to the local record store to buy the cassingle (a single on a cassette tape). So, here is my ode to the songs that, for me, will be forever linked to events from my childhood and young adulthood.
Celine Dion – “My heart will go on”
Every time I hear this song, I only momentarily think of one of Hollywood’s biggest box office champs. I think instead of the drag queen Salmonella Pork Chops a.k.a Ashley (also not his real name). He was one of those big fat queens, and he lived for drag. He was my drag mother and taught me almost everything I know about comedy drag (the rest comes from another queen, Verity Von Vomit). Salmonella lived every bit up to his toxic name. He would spread needless rumours and start fights with the other queens just for the hell of it. Seriously, he should be on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Salmonella’s signiture song was “My Heart Will Go On” which he’d done a special remix for, 2/3 of it was the normal song, and the last third would be the Hex Hector Remix. And at the end he would take off his wig, revealing hair that was dyed to match the colour of the wig. Everything about him was fake. He never left the house without makeup, even when dressed as a man. He was one of those AVON dealers, and actually he did do a good job of showing how good their products were. I learned everything I know about makeup from him as well, although I never could match his technique. He gave me my first professional gig as a queen. I was in his Christmas show, first as the Aida in Bette Midler’s “Otto Titsling”. He had me in garbage bags and wearing condom tits. Then, as the “christmas tree” in Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you”, where I had a plastic bag for a santa sack, which was carrying his used dildo. I refused to touch it, despite my job being that I had to take it out and give it to him. It actually made for a fun moment on stage, but I was disgusted.
Moby – “Porcelain”
When this song came out, just about every one of my classmates ruined it by using it in all of their assignment for our Graphic Design College that year. My god the amount of times I heard that song, it made me want to put pencils into my ears and destroy my earbuds. Now when I hear it, I think about a utopia of a time when I could be creative all the time and not worry having to make a living. About a time when I thought that the world was my oyster. Actually, I feel that way now, but it is tempered by bitter and painful experience, so a little bit more muted than when I was in college. This is a good thing, as I was an arrogant little diva/prick at the time.
Madonna – “How High”
I will always think of the book WICKED (later translated into a Broadway Musical) when I hear this song. I bought the album “Confessions on a Dancefloor” just after first moving to Japan, and I would play it, along with reading every book that my flatmate had in the house. While many of the other songs would fade into the background as I read, somehow I always noticed this one, so for me whenever I hear “How High”, I think of a young green witch, having sex for the first time with another strange creature. That song always puts me directly into the strange political world of Wicked.
Sugar Ray – “Every morning”
The spring of 1999, I entered in my hometown’s float for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (back when it was still one of the biggest and most controversial events in Sydney), which is where I met my first boyfriend. We kissed for six straight hours (while also managing to walk along the streets of the parade, plus getting on TV in the process), and I tried to pass of the gravel rash the next day as a rather nasty fall. Over the course of our relationship, the most played song on the radio was Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning”, and it somehow seemed appropriate to our relationship, so I made it unofficially “our song”. I was also listening to it a lot as I wrote a report on the changes in design of the Ginger Meggs cartoon (which is legendary in Australia).
All Saints – “Never Ever”
When the two of us broke up, suddenly this depressing little ditty was the ARIA No. 1 song for what seemed like months. Virtually all spoken, this song, while written for people in my situation, just made me want to jump off a cliff, so I instead had to abandon radio altogether and buy emergency copies of the Spice Girls albums and listen to them on repeat. I still cannot listen to this song without wanting to throw the radio out of the window… perhaps that’s just because it’s a shit song?
Michel Jackson – “Bad”
Along with every other child of the 80’s, I was a huge fan of Micheal Jackson. And I love his song Bad. It was just so badass. That is, until Weird Al came along and ruined it. Now all I can ever hear when I listen to Bad, is the lines, “because I’m Fat, I’m Fat, you know it”. Which in retrospect was quite ahead of it’s time.
I’m not the only one with this problem, I also remember a friend of mine having to leave the theatre during a performance of Evita, all because of Jim Carrey’s version of “Don’t cry for me Argentina” on In living color.
Prince – “Sexy MF”
This song will always be linked to the time I wrote the lyrics (at least what I thought were the lyrics) to this song on my junior high school diary. Just under the cover, so that no-one would ever know. I did it almost six full months before the subsequent events occurred. I had forgotten about my little act of literally undercover defiance of my fundamental Christian School and the bullies that plagued me daily by the time it was all too late. The cover on the diary became more and more tattered as the months wore on, and eventually on the last day of the school year we were having a class party and a few of my classmates saw the lyrics, and a bit of a kerfuffle started which resulted me being seated in front of the Vice Principal with my parents having to negotiate my way out of getting the paddle (corporal punishment). It worked, but I’m not really proud of how I got there.
Madonna – “Like a Prayer”
Cut to a few years earlier, when I was about 9 and I had discovered rage, Australia’s version of MTV. I would just watch every music video I could, I felt the way some feel when they find religion. If you remember that scene in The Blues Brothers, were one brother manages to convince the other brother to get the band back together in the church? Well that’s how I felt when I discovered pop music. And my sister played a big part in pointing me in the right direction, in terms of my musical taste.
Around that time, my sister began going to evangelical Christina Camps where they talk about conspiracy theories on how the devil is using popular music to recruit young souls to hell. Well, she came back from this camp filled to the brim with the holy spirit and declared that the one cassette that I owned, Bananarama’s “Greatest Hits”, was going to send me to hell, and for the next few years we played cat and mouse with that cassette. She would find ever more devious was of hiding that cassette (in order to save my eternal soul), and I would become more and more clever at finding it, until eventually she gave up trying to save my soul and let me listen to my music.
Of course, this camp also taught my sister that the two most evil Pop stars were Madonna and Prince. Now, being the little daredevil I was, I was immediately interested in their music. I was, after all, the same kid who, at the age of three, ran after another very clean little scottish boy with mud in my hands and a maniacal laugh.
The interesting thing about Prince and Madonna’s music was that they blended religion with highly provocative lyrics and videos. They were daring to say everything about religion that I was thinking about, and it was so liberating. Madonna was also the first person I ever heard in the media say that it was OK to be gay. Both Madonna and Prince challenged the image of what it meant to be a man or woman. So, despite the fact that Madonna danced sexily around a cemetery filled with burning crosses, and Prince wore higher heels than his leading ladies, they did in fact do something wonderful for me. They dared me to believe that I was OK.
Thanks to P.H. Davis for the inspiration! See the original article >> “Glory of the 90s: The Albums of my teenage years”