Monday, June 24, 2002

I Was Maimed By Rock’n’Roll
My record collecting career highlights.

Yeah, sure I have thousands of records, tapes and CDs. There’s nothing to unusual, interesting or scintillating about my life long record collecting habit. But it’s the way that a few purchases, innocent at the time, have over years become defining moments of my own pop folklore. Okay, I’m nobody of any note just one of Beat’s many writers over the years, a bloke who accidentally surrendered himself to the stupid world of music. A world, which you can only reasonably expect a few sublime moments. Here’s a few of mine.

I think it was in 1981 when the rot really set in. The Grade 3 teacher proclaims a bring in your favourite record day. Everybody brings in Kiss, Kiss and more Kiss albums to accompany their Scanlens Kiss cards. Everybody, except me. I bring in With The Beatles. I couldn’t understand why I’m laughed at from all corners of the room. What’s wrong with Mr Postman? I love that song! “Glennis Peters is a der Fred! Glennis likes the Beatles! Glennis likes the Beatles!” Heathens. Years later I’m lucky enough to tell the story to none other than the God Of Thunder himself, Gene Simmons. He loved the sad tale and told me that at the same age, he too, was with obsessed with the very same album. Touché.

In 1982 I was given the choice of two albums, ACDC’s For Those About To Rock or Joan Jett and The Blackhearts’ Album. I take the Joan Jett record. I know what you’re thinking. Why freakin’ Joan Jett? Cos’ she’s a spunk, that’s why and who didn’t love I Love Rock’n’Roll? 20 years later and kids all over the world are making the exact same mistake with Britney Spears’ version of the Joan Jett classic.

You wouldn’t believe it but in Year 11 I wanted to be a radiologist. With the fast cars, inner city apartments and access to deadly radioactive waves, who wouldn’t? I did work experience at the local X-Ray place. I was set. That was until I found out that I was shithouse at maths. Then English Literature (I was the only boy in the class), and Tom Waits’ Frank Wild Years took over. From then on I was a thinker, philosopher and beat poet. More importantly, I was part of a tiny group of people at Glen Waverley High School who were scorned on as people who were into alternative music. Alternative to what? Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Poison and Def Leppard, that’s what. Sheesh!

The moment I was told I would have to repeat Year 11 I was looking down. Not down in sorrow, no I was looking down on the two amazing records I had bought earlier that day, Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation and The Cramps’ Smell Of Female. I was still in record shop afterglow. I thought for a few seconds and metered this reaction, “That’s crap. You can’t do that. I passed everything. This isn’t Scotch College. I’ll do well next year. I couldn’t stand an extra year in this dump.” The reply? “Okay, let’s see you try. I bet you won’t make it.” I did.

Partly because I wanted to get a job at Rolling Stone, NME or even Beat (how ambitious) I went to Deakin in Geelong to do an Arts Degree in Journalism. That’s the official line. The deal breaker to go down to Geelong was the legendary Mudhoney shows at The Barwon Club a year previous. Geelong sounded cool as buggery. It almost was. One afternoon I bought My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless (on tape!) at Geelong’s Brash’s. I looked at the local importer’s tag on the tape and thought, what a cool logo. I’d love to work there one day! Years later I did work at that record company but bless you all who I worked with in those couple of years but working at a record company is not what I thought it would be. While most your workmates have hundreds of records at home, to find a music obsessive is rare. Sure, you’ll find lots of people passionate about their job but not about the actual music they’re selling. Now it’s time to reassess my maligned career path.

I was once told in a job interview for a music industry position that the obsessed record collector usually goes nowhere on the music ladder, usually destined to a Wednesday night graveyard shift at the local public radio station, not out there signing the acts and breaking the deals. If only they taught that in Grade 3….

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