Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A lesson in '90s music appreciation

I tried to school my Year 7 class in 1990s Californian punk. It did not go well.

When I was growing up in the early 1990s my taste in music was almost wholly shaped by what my big sister was listening to, most of which had been recorded on the tape deck of whatever boyfriend she was dating at the time.

I may have been a 12 year old girl with daggy dress sense and no hope of kissing any boys for at least two years (it's true), but musically speaking I was actually a 17-year-old skateboarding dude with cool hair who played drums in his friend's band. I was super awesome.

So while all my girl friends were buying "Super Hot Hits '92" at Target I was rocking mix tapes of the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Rage Against the Machine, the Infectious Grooves, Faith No More and Living Colour.

How I loved (and love) them so.

While everyone else was singing along to Ace of Bass and Boyz II Men, I was riding on the tram wearing my cassette walkman silently mouthing "911 is a joke" and pretending my pretty western suburbs neighbourhood was actually a New York ghetto.

None of this, however, excuses me from the fact that my first ever album purchase was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack. I can only blame that on a temporary lapse of sanity, and also that I kind of liked MC Hammer at the time. (Hello, we ALL did.)

But it does explain why in 1992 I thought it would be an awesome idea to play the below song in my Year 7 "class karaoke" session, an activity my teacher no doubt thought would be a fun way to occupy his students for half an hour each week so he could get some marking done. He was in for a shock.

"I WILL BLOW THEIR TINY MINDS," I thought, knowing that the only RHCP song anyone at my school knew was "Under the Bridge".

Maybe I actually did, as everyone gave up on singing 10 seconds in, no one saw the funny side and my teacher banned classroom karaoke for the rest of the term.

It was worth it, though.

What are your first musical memories? Fess up - I admitted the TMNT thing.


  1. No way was I at all near as cool as that (I liked - and still do - like Ace of Base. Unironically). I was also really into that Julian Lennon song that year. No joke. I balanced it out by knowing every word to "Give it Away" and - again unashamedly - The 12th Man's "Marvellous".

    But in a "fun thing that happened later in life" moment, I remember a good childhood friend got me into Fishbone at the time. I'm pretty sure he played them in one of our music sharing classes and, yeah, I was pretty into them because of it.

    Fast forward to 2009 - I'm in an empty small bar in Long Island, there to see Fishbone with my boyfriend and one of his friend who - unbeknownst to me - had hooked up with Angelo Moore years ago. I met Angelo, he regaled me with stories of the last time they toured Oz, and after the show, we smoked weed with the drummer in the parking lot. He gave me his drumstick as a keepsake: "You just got fishBONED. And you got wood."

    Awkward, dorky 12 year old me never saw it coming.

  2. I'm not sure how knowing all the lyrics to the 12th Man balances out ANYTHING, but I appreciate you sharing your story, Anonymous. ;)

    I'm glad you have a happy story about meeting your childhood idol though - that sort of thing often doesn't end well.

  3. That Julian Lennon thing just made me remember our school chaplain getting us to sing it in assembly in place of hymns... hilarious :)

    Also, PetStarr, you sound cool and all, but I seem to remember lunch time sessions on the lawn in Year 9 singing easy listening classics such as Peter Blakeley's "Crying in the Chapel". Oh yes, I went there. :)

  4. SHUSSH Kelly, thanks for ruining my rep! Kidding - I'll fully admit that I LOVED Crying in the Chapel. I had the cassingle and played it INCESSANTLY. I think that was in 1991 though (see, 1992 changed everything). I'll also admit that just recently (say, two weeks ago) I had an argument with Barilski about that very song, in which I claimed it was by Peter Gabriel. Oh, the shame.

  5. Ouch. Cry in the corner about that one :)

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  7. Hilarious Petra,
    Does anybody want some? That's rad. Did you actually get as far as the "but he don't give a fuck?"
    I don't know how this relates but you remember those 1300 student assemblies we used to have to sit through?
    Hard to believe as this is but I was fairly well-known for being a hyper-critical outsider at High School. I thought I was cool but was probably closer to Aly Sheedy in The Breakfast Club.
    Well at one school assembly, some bright spark thought it would be cool to have the lame school rock band do an instrumental version of Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall. Can you see where this is going? As they struck up, I saw a white flash of mass insurrection and leapt up on my chair (right next to my form teacher btw who was also the music teacher) and start singing the lyrics at the top of my voice.
    You know the ones "We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control..."
    In my mind I imagined all the other kids joining in until we got to the chorus when all 1300 kids would be stood on their chairs singing "Hey teacher! Leave those kids alone!" The reality was quite different. Even though the entire school could see me and were watching with slack-jawed shock, NOT ONE of the other kids joined in. The school band kept going, completely oblivious and staring at their fingers to make sure they didn't make a mistake.
    Me? There was no fucking way I was going to back down once I'd started. With my teacher tugging at my leg, red with embarrassment, I sang the whole damned song while the principal stared daggers and the other kids snickered.
    Course I got suspended (apparently the principal thought I was an "ego maniac." I suppose he had a point but that wasn't why I did it). Mum seemed more bemused than anything. And even though the other kids didn't join in, I did get some begrudging respect from them after that. Even now, so many years later, I will occasionally - but not often - meet someone who was there that I don't recognise AT ALL who will come up and say "weren't you the guy that...?" Yeah. I am THAT guy. ;)