by Ross Sharp
I had very little interest in music when I was in high school during the first half of the 1970’s.
Mostly, I read books.
I had a few tapes, a few vinyl albums. Miklos Rosza’s soundtrack for “Ben-Hur”. The soundtrack to “Singin’ in the Rain”. Richard Rodgers soundtrack for “Victory at Sea”. Some John Barry “James Bond” soundtracks. Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. Some Elvis Presley. The Monkees. Glenn Miller.
I was 16 years old and listening to Glenn Miller.
But mostly, I read books.
Then I left school. 1976, it was. I was 17. I got a job. A finance company in Sydney city, down Haymarket end.
I struck up a friendship with a guy named Rod. He played guitar. Not in any meaningful way, just at home, in the loungeroom of the council flat where he lived with his grandmother. He lived with his grandmother because his mother was insane and his dad was an alcoholic. He didn’t seem too affected by any of that. I guess it just was what it was far as he was concerned.
We’d hang out Friday, Saturday nights. First, at a poxy bloody discotheque at the Bexley North hotel in Sydney’s south. We’d just stand around, ogling girls, me with a gin and tonic, Rod with a beer, listening to shitty disco music and ogling girls, but never talking to them, good heavens no, that was a little too scary a prospect. We’d toss each other a sly look now and then, raise an eyebrow when a particularly attractive girl walked by, trying to look cool, leaning up against the wall.
And when our reserves of cool ran out, and our shoulders got too numb from all that magnificent leaning, we’d leave and go across the road to the local Chinese for a meal, and go home. On the train.
Rod liked The Eagles. God only knows why, but he did. I thought they were as boring as batshit. He liked Rose Tattoo as well. Sometimes, we’d go into town, to Chequers in Goulburn Street to see Rose Tattoo play.
They were okay. I guess. But I still wasn’t much interested in the music of the times. 1977, I think it was.
One day, one Saturday afternoon, I went over to Rod’s place. Just to hang out, watch him try to play riffs from various Eagles songs, listen to some records, talk bullshit. As 18 years olds are wont to do.
Exciting times. Yes, indeed.
“Listen to this”, Rod said to me, picking up a bright yellow and pink album cover, taking the record out and slipping it onto the turntable. “There’s no bass!”, he said, “You can’t hear any fucking bass in it!”.
He seemed a little affronted by this. I didn’t give a fuck. I had very little interest in the music of the times.
Then he put the needle to the groove, and turned the volume way up.
And, as I listened, an electric shiver shot through my body, my soul, my mind, the hairs on my arms stood straight up, the dull, drab conformity of suburban life slipped away in a single moment, and I realised, “This is who I am. This is how I feel. This, this is me. This is what I’ve been waiting for”.
The music of the times. It meant something. And I felt more alive in that one moment than at any prior moment in my life.
Within a couple weeks, I was in skinny black jeans, ripping holes in t-shirts, spiking my hair and wearing a studded belt with matching dog collar.
Rod was a little surprised by all this (to say the least), a little taken aback. Not to mention my parents.
And so began a 30 year plus passionate love affair with music of all types, all genres, and all styles, from all eras.