Monday, 30 November 2009

My Moments of the Decade

January 1st 2000, I had just come off the worst New Years Eve ever. My family had returned to Adelaide for a holiday after having moved to the Sunshine Coast the year before. They missed the people and the town, I did not. My parents had been invited to a party at the penthouse of a hotel. I, at age 16, got stuck in a ‘kids room’ where several kids under 13 watched crappy movies while I looked at the clock and prayed for it all to end.

Luckily the decade got considerably better from there. The first decade of the new millennium will be looked at retrospectively as a fond one. It was full of dramatic lows and so many highs as one would expect from ages 16 to 26. Here is a purely personal list of moments that defined my decade.

The 2008 United States Presidential Election Campaign

The result proved anticlimactic, but a generation from now the 2008 Presidential election campaign will be looked upon with the fervour that 1968 is looked upon by the Baby Boomers. The Democratic front runner Hilary Clinton deposed by an upstart as part of the the long drawn out Democratic primary, the genius of Olbermann and Maddow all year long, the bizarre antics of CNN’s political team, McCain picking Palin, and of course Obama coming from the clouds all made the year in US politics particularly memorable. If only Obama’s Presidency was (and is) as good as his campaign


Port Adelaide Power Winning the 2004 AFL Flag (25/09/04)

Unquestionably my sporting moment of the decade, it arguably made me happier than any other single moment of the decade. After dominating the three previous regular seasons only to succumb in the finals, Port Power finally won the Grand Final. A victory made all that much sweeter by the fact that the Power beat the Brisbane Lions: a football team that stirred so much hatred inside me that its impossible to describe. Even now I tear up watching the final moments as coach Mark Williams walks down the stairs of the MCG in tears as the ‘choker tag’ is finally defeated. It’s the most emotional sporting moment of my life thus far.


First Class Honours (12/12/07)

It is hard to put this achievement into perspective. To be told from birth that I would not amount to anything intellectually, and then to achieve the highest undergraduate honour possible at university level is quite the leap. My parents remember a time where I could not lift my head up voluntarily and were told that I would be lucky to ever do that by myself. Now I have completed two university degrees at a high standard, and I am well on the way to completing a third. The thesis was arguably the hardest task I have ever completed. Entitled False Dawn: The ALP and the Leadership of Mark Latham, it took me the best part of 10 months, 24,000 words and 90 pages. Achieving first class honours proved that I was no longer an academic pretender, and that I have the potential to become an expert. So much for being intellectually disabled.

The Election of the Rudd Government (24/11/07)

I remember the day I started following politics very clearly. It was the night of the 1996 election. Unfortunately, that was also the very same night that John Howard took office. I had followed every Federal election up until that point only for it to end in tears, quite literally. Then two days after my 23rd birthday that all changed, and finally the ALP under Kevin Rudd stormed into power. The four years of being a member of the party, volunteering on polling booths, the early morning meetings, the trips to Brisbane, and agonising through several leadership challenges all paid off at 7:20pm Queensland time when election analyst Antony Green called the election in the ALP’s favour.

The Tegan and Sara ‘Groupie Tour’ 2007 (12/12/07-16/12/07)

Seeing my favourite band once was always destined to be a memorable experience one way or the other. Seeing them three times in four days however made it destined to be a spellbinding journey. The trip itself was full of drama and some great times, and was an amazing life changing experience. Taking the journey with my best friend and fellow Tegan and Sara fanatic Candy made the experience all the more incredible as we followed them around Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

This was the one holiday where I got to let my hair down, a rite of passage really that often comes much earlier in life for others. My first taste of independence, all done on my own terms, matched to the perfect soundtrack and a lifetime of memories. It is a period I will remember for the rest of my life and it defined my decade.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

New Moon: Movie Review

“Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars—points of light and reason. …And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything was black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason for anything.”

Edward Cullen, Page 514, New Moon

The above quote is to me, the centerpiece of why New Moon is perhaps one of my favourite novels. It does not appear within the screenplay of the novel’s film adaptation. It is a pity because it might as well have. The second film in the Twilight Saga is predictably very faithful to the written word. Readers should note this with caution. Lovers of the literary series, like myself will gorge on this movie for every second of its running time. The haters will inevitably complain as well they might, but they seem to miss the point entirely, as this film was not made for them in mind.

I read the New Moon novel in one day. That was New Year’s Eve 2008. It was very gripping quite simply because its one of the best romance novels ever written. It is the 21st century equivalent to Wuthering Heights or any Austin novel. Girl loves boy, boy breaks up with girl, girl goes into debilitating depression, finds solace in the company of another temporarily, loses them as well, attempts suicide, only to find her true love once more. Forget all the supernatural bullshit because I do. Even though at the time of reading the novel I was nowhere close to being in love, I understood the pain of Bella and empathised with her. But now that I am experiencing the type of pain that Bella endured through New Moon, my adulation for the book and the movie has grown even further. Say all you like about the writing technique, but that’s a great skill to have as an author. I echoed this when I reviewed the book.

What can I say except that the series is getting better and better and is becoming more and more addictive than I ever had anticipated. The characters are more clearly defined, the plot even more hectic than its predecessor and the little annoyances that I had identified in Twilight have now faded into the background making this a superior novel.

Twilight merely provides the jumping off point for all the events of New Moon to come in to place, where both the characters and the readers’ loyalties are tested once more. The love story is forever intensified and the consequences of every action both insignificant and otherwise are integral. I cannot wait to step into Bella’s world once more

Essentially these same comments apply when comparing the two movie versions as well. Of course given the bigger budget of New Moon the special effects have dramatically improved as they needed to. But it’s the simple things that the movie does well. My favourite sequence in the movie is early on, immediately after Edward leaves Bella and there’s a single continuous tracking shot that swells around Bella’s head as she is stuck in the same pose. Month after month rolls by and no lines of dialogue are spoken, it is just a symbol of the pain and grief slowly eating away at Bella’s insides.

The Saga has become such a pop culture phenomenon now that the spectacle detracts from the material and this is a pity. Sure Kristen Stewart may be the sexiest woman in the world right now, but is it really necessary to have minute by minute reporting following her every move? To be sure each of the three leads do their job well, with Stewart being the clear standout, being on screen for almost the entire movie (making me a very happy boy). But lets be clear, this is a genre piece through and through. You won’t be seeing any of the male leads in a Scorsese film any time soon.

This is the one problem with New Moon as with the Twilight Saga as a whole. The public at large tries to make the series into several things it is not. It not a commentary on Generation Y, nor is it a representation of its time. It is not even a particularly well done horror series. It should not be infesting every orifice of pop culture. It is simply one of the greatest romances of the 21st century. It is a pity the world cannot see that. Do as I do: check your brain at the door, spend all your time staring into Kristen Stewart’s eyes and let your emotions take over.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Tegan and Sara: Band of the Decade

Over the final five weeks of the year I will be counting down the events, the music, and the television shows that shaped my decade. I thought it only fitting to write the first piece of this series on the band of the decade.

2004 proved to be an historic year for me in retrospect. I met my best friend, and fell in love for the first time (and then out again). Politically, it was the year after I joined the ALP. It would also provide me with my Honours thesis topic in 2007 when Mark Latham electorally ruining my beloved party. Despite all this, 2004 sticks out in my mind for one reason. It would prove to be the year my musical life changed forever. It was the year I discovered Tegan and Sara.

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Tegan and Sara are unquestionably my band. Just like Pavement were for my brother, and Steely Dan were for my father. I can envisage a time in 2025 when I am 42 years old, working in my office, grading papers, marking assignments or writing my maiden parliamentary speech, and I know exactly who I’ll be listening to. Tegan and Sara.

I have not and will never get The Beatles, I think they are overrated, no talent hacks. I assume the reason why hordes of the public flock to them like mindless sheep is that they make the complex seem easy. Tegan and Sara achieve this for me. Listen to Take Me Anywhere. At the heart of it is a seemingly simple pop song, typical of a girl who wrote it at 23 (as Tegan was at the time). However those who think this are missing the sheer artistry of the song. The arrangement makes the song. The way Tegan is so definite when the bridge comes in (Take me by the hand/and tell me you would take me anywhere) and then the backing vocals come in, and then suddenly the wall of sound develops that fills the listener with utter joy. Moments such as that are the reason I listen to music.

Tegan and Sara are honest and genuine. There is no bullshit whether it is in their music or their life. Lesbians? So what? Twins? So what? Their record company folds? They proceed to make not only their most artistically rewarding album to date, but their most commercially successful. Two years later they even manage to better this success in both respects. How many other artists can you say have achieved this?

I cannot exactly say why I connect with the girls so much. Not a day goes by where I cannot listen to their albums multiple times. My Last Fm tells me I have listened to their songs 117,700 times in just over three years. Some would say this is obsessive. This is true. They are my life.

It is the reason I flew down the East Coast of Australia to see them in concert three times in four days. It was the best week of my life bar none. These girls make life worth living. No matter what is going on, all of their songs provide me with comfort no matter what the mood. I can play Dark Come Soon when I’m feeling shitty, Downtown when I’m feeling sombre, Soil, Soil when I’m heartbroken, When I Get Up when I’m pining, Come On Kids when I’m hopeful, Someday when I’m inspired, On Directing when I feel invigorated, and Knife Going In when I am in the mood to sing along.

Tegan and Sara provide music for all occasions that is not only artistically satisfying, but emotionally gratifying. This comes from the intriguing yet contradictory partnership of the two Quin sisters. In the decade since they released their first album they’ve only written one song together. They write and record individually, yet seamlessly meld together in a live setting. Tegan is the emotionally brash one whose pop sensibilities instantly hit you right between the eyes as she commands your attention. Sara, on the other hand is thoughtful, deliberate and methodical relying on her innate intelligence to draw the listener in slowly but surely. In effect this gives the listener two bands for the price of one: double the pleasure at half the cost.

The progression between each of their five albums speaks to the kind of artists they have become. This Business of Art was an exercise in self discovery as they developed their own unique songwriting styles. Although the album would heavily feature an acoustic vibe that would become the norm of 2000, they quite rightly jettisoned this approach in order to create a fuller sound. If It Was You marked the first time Tegan and Sara made a conventional pop record embracing the short, punchy emotional songs that would later become their trademark. With So Jealous they entered the mainstream of sorts, willing to try unconventional approaches whilst making arguably their most accessible album to date. The Con displayed a focused emotional maturity, which highlighted that Tegan and Sara were not only great musicians, but perhaps the finest artists of their generation. Sainthood pushed these boundaries even further and proved that the capabilities are unparalleled and the possibilities as they enter their second decade as professional musicians are limitless. Each record is not only a progression in their lives, but also a progression in mine as each of these albums have served as the soundtrack to my experiences both painful and delightful.

Tegan and Sara are my band. They are the band of the decade. They are the band of my decade. They are the band of my twenties. That stage of life when all of the possibilities are endless, and the search for identity is eternally frustrating. The decade that has marked more disappointments than victories, but with each of the former, comes the latter that is 10,000 times more gratifying. Tegan and Sara symbolise all of this and so much more. They are more than just a soundtrack to my life. They are more than just musical idols. They have formed an integral part of my life. Forget about the band of the decade: Tegan and Sara are a once in a life time band.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Carpenters: Masters of Melancholy

Carpenters remain one of the most unfairly maligned musical acts of the past and present. Superficially, they are known for their light, almost pristine tones that characterised much of their greatest commercial success in the early 1970s.

As the All Music Guide explains:

With their light, airy melodies and meticulously crafted, clean arrangements, the Carpenters stood in direct contrast with the excessive, gaudy pop/rock of the '70s; yet they became one of the most popular artists of the decade, scoring 12 Top Ten hits, including three number one singles. Karen Carpenter's calm, pretty voice was the most distinctive element of their music, settling in perfectly amidst the precise, lush arrangements provided by her brother Richard

Their musical achievements have also been overshadowed by the death of Karen Carpenter on February 4th, 1983 from anorexia, arguably the first high profile celebrity to die from this tragic illness.

I contend that Carpenters deserve to be considered amongst the greats of modern pop music. Richard, who has a Brian Wilson like sense of musical detail, which is largely unmatched, produced all of their material. Although the Carpenters are best known for their almost saccharine chart topper Close To You (Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?), it is their melancholy tone, combined with expertly refined production that sets them apart from other bands.

These qualities are displayed on the finest Greatest Hits collection I own. Clocking in at forty and a half minutes and 12 tracks The Singles: 1969-1974 concisely presents all the best moments from Carpenters who were so dominate in this era.

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The magic of Carpenters can be heard in the very first bars of the album on We’ve Only Just Begun, which begins in an ironically hopeful tone given the bands tragic decline in its later years. The production and the composition make this song what it is, allowing Karen’s superb alto vocal tones to remain in the forefront of the mix whilst given the surrounding instrumentation sufficient room to breathe.

Another highlight is their first hit, a cover of the Beatles Ticket to Ride. Gone is the youthful innocence and bombast of the original, replaced with the sense of inherent sadness of this version. This is all emphasised by a truly beautiful piano and light percussion accompaniment, as well as Karen sorrowful vocals. This is certainly my favourite Beatles cover ever in a sea of worthy contenders.

However, it is in the middle section where the album shines and achieves a level of superiority. The tripartite force of hit singles Superstar, Rainy Days and Mondays, and the granddaddy of them all: Goodbye to Love makes an unbeatable and exquisite combination of musical prowess. Superstar is characterised with its terrifically sombre chorus, which contradicts the songs title and its brass refrain make a stunning opener to this three song set. Rainy Days and Mondays simultaneously manages to be depressing and empowering all at once with Karen’s vocal delivery unmatched in arguably her finest ever recorded performance. Then Rainy Days and Mondays immediately segues into Goodbye To Love, the most powerful anthem about heartbreak I’ve ever, ever encountered. This song is most definitely in my all time favourites. One look at the lyrics will tell you all you need to know.

I'll say goodbye to love

No one ever cared if I should live or die

Time and time again the chance for love has passed me by

And all I know of love is how to live without it

I just can't seem to find it

So I've made my mind up

I must live my life alone

And though it's not the easy way

I guess I've always know

I'd say goodbye to love

There are no tomorrows for this heart of mine

Surely time will lose these bitter memories

And I'll find that there is someone to believe in

And to live for something I could live for

All the years of useless search

Have finally reached an end

Loneliness and empty days will be my only friend

From this day love is forgotten

I'll go on as best I can

What lies in the future is a mystery to us all

No one can predict the wheel of fortune as it falls

There may come a time when I will see that I've been wrong

But for now this is my song

And it's goodbye to love

I'll say goodbye to love

All of this is topped off with an uncharacteristic thundering guitar solo at the songs conclusion to strengthen the song’s impact. It is a pure classic and it does not deserve to be neglected.

The album latter half continues the theme of pessimistic writing and stunning musical arrangement, with the strong material of Yesterday Once More, Sing and Hurting Each Other. Although each song does not count among my favourite tracks on the album they remain unquestionably strong.

Fittingly, the album closes with Close To You, the wonderfully sentimental song that everyone knows and loves and is played at countless weddings now and into the future. Written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach it is a classic song, but I am disappointed that this is ultimately the pop cultural legacy of the Carpenters. Although it features all the hallmarks of Richard’s superb production style, (the horns, the harmonies and the perfectly controlled build up with wonderful overdubs at the songs conclusion) the song seems to be counterintuitive to the band’s legacy of intricate, intelligent yet mournful lyrics which are at its emotional core.

This legacy not only makes Carpenters one of the truly great bands, but perhaps the definitive band of their generation. They may not have been cool, and they may never be so. They may appeal to the geriatric set who settle for AM radio while drinking cups of tea and long for the Nixonian era (when he appeared to be honest and trustworthy but never actually was). Despite all of this though the Carpenters should be remembered as the masters of what they do best: emotionally honest pop music.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Letter to a Higher Power

To Whom It May Concern:

There’s a reason I don’t believe in a higher power. It is not something I choose to believe in because I think if one exists then whoever you are, you are one sadistic bastard. Once every so often a bible basher will come up to me and say something like ‘God chose you to be in a wheelchair because he knew you could handle it’ Seriously, is that why? Because if so, that’s a really shitty explanation. People who say that clearly have no exposure to people with disabilities. Perhaps they should try a day sitting in my chair. But then again I would not wish this upon my worst enemy.

I think I’ve done a pretty good job rolling with the punches. So much so that I have actually turned the biggest negative into a positive, at least most of the time. Was this the plan? Because again, if it was, your planning skills leave a lot to be desired. There’s only so much I can take. Is there anything else you’d like to throw my way? Anything at all? You might as well just keep piling endless amounts of shit on my shoulders and see how long it takes until I fall over and die from utter exhaustion.

Whoever you are, you are a fuck wit. I thought I was on top of things, finally conquering all my demons and then you sent me on a path to destruction. You hit me where it hurt the most, put the greatest temptation in front of me and before I could grab it, you pulled it away like some snotty nosed kid with a dollar coin. You knew how this would affect me, but you did it anyway. Did it give you the ultimate satisfaction? Are you happy? Because I’m not.

But if you think you can defeat me you are dead wrong. You try to strip away my defences in order to make me perish. That is not going to work this time. It may have before, but I know your tricks now and I will strike you down. I have made a decision, I am going to turn what you think is my greatest weakness and turn it into my greatest strength. I am going to fight the pain you have inflicted upon me, neutralise it, and then one day turn it into my greatest source of joy. It won’t be to spite you, although that will be sweet. It will be for me.

You have tried to make the enemy formidable by making them attractive and desirable to my sensibilities. This will be your downfall. No matter how many times I experience that searing, stabbing, pain of loss, anguish and misery I will think of the joy I have felt, and all that I will feel again. Then it will be you who piles the shit upon your own shoulders, once you discover that you cannot get to me, ever. No matter what you try, no matter what shit you pull, no matter how many tears I cry, I will strike you down. I will hunt you down and kill you with my happiness.

One day when that happens, I will look up to the sky and say 'Fuck you, you are gone forever’.

I hope that day comes sooner than you think.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

You Belong With Me: Greatest Pop Song of the Decade?

You're on the phone with your girlfriend, She's upset
She's going off about something that you said
She doesnt get your humour like I do

I'm in the room, its a typical Tuesday night
I'm listening to the kind of music she doesnt like
And she'll never know your story like I do

But she wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts
She's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers
Dreaming bout the day when you'll wake up and find
That what you're lookin for has been here the whole time

If you could see that I'm the one who understands you
Been here all along so why can't you see?
You belong with me
You belong with me

Walkin the streets with you in your worn out jeans
I cant help thinking this is how it ought to be
Laughing on the park bench thinkin to myself
Hey isnt this easy?

And you've got a smile that could light up this whole town
I havent seen it in awhile, since she brought you down
You say you find I know you better than that
Hey, Whatcha doing with a girl like that?

She wears high heels, I wear sneakers
She's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers
Dreaming bout the day when you'll wake up and find
That what you're looking for has been here the whole time

If you could see that I'm the one who understands you
Been here all along so why can't you see?
You belong with me

Standin by, waiting at your back door
All this time how could you not know that?
You belong with me
You belong with me

Oh I remember you driving to my house in the middle of the night
I'm the one who makes you laugh when you know you're about to cry
I know your favorite songs and you tell me about your dreams
I think I know where you belong. I think I know it's with me.

Can't you see that I'm the one who understand you?
Been here all along so why can't you see?
You belong with me

Standing by or waiting at your back door
All this time how could you not know that
You belong with me
You belong with me

Have you ever thought just maybe
You belong with me
You belong with me

The greatest gift of pop music is the ability of a song to transport the listener to a specific time and place, and to capture a specific emotion. Or indeed to summarise every thought and emotion that’s been swelling up inside you, and perfectly place into three and a half minutes of utter perfection. Such is the case with You Belong With Me

Its simple premise is entirely universal. Taylor loves her friend who is dating another girl who may or may not be the right one for him. Taylor is pining away for her friend who refuses to see what she does. This is classic Unresolved Sexual Tension (URST) popularized by a series of teen melodramas I have come to know and love. What makes the song so special though is the evocative detail throughout.

Pop Critic Jonathon Bradley neatly captures songs greatness by describing Taylor’s great gift for a sense of time and place:

Swift’s songwriting talent is nothing short of incredible. Though it seems to be effortlessly constructed, You Belong With Me is loaded with precise but lightly drawn observations, capturing great depths of character and motivation in a few lines. Her approach is diaristic; the song starts on “a typical Tuesday night,” which means little except that Swift seems to have a fixation with Tuesdays; in Forever and Always, she describes meeting a boy on “I believe it was a Tuesday.” The repetition across her oeuvre of these motifs (she is also fond of kissing in the rain) suits the obsessive close reading of relationship turmoil at the heart of nearly all her songs.

On this particular typical Tuesday, she’s hanging out in her crush’s bedroom while he argues on the phone with his girlfriend. It’s so natural you could miss how perfectly revealing it is: who else but a high school boy would force his guest to hang around listening to his relationship’s dirty laundry? Later on, Swift captures the giddy thrill of spending time with someone you adore with a few offhand remarks about “worn out jeans” and an amazed sigh of “hey, isn’t this easy?” But I fear the title and the (adorable) video get it wrong: The boy in question does not actually belong with Swift. Listen to her audible inhalation at 2:47, when her breath catches in her throat before she piles on the reasons her object of affection should be with her — Taylor knows his favorite songs, his dreams — delivering them in a rushed, too-insistent torrent, in case he should dare interrupt her with the horrible truth that love is not a legality to be argued in a courtroom, and each certainty of which Swift has convinced herself probably means nothing at all. This is the sound of a girl fighting against the gradual realization that she’s stuck in the friend zone, but it’s also the work of a truly impressive

Its more than a standard love triangle, this is a battle for heart disguised with a sweet melody. We see the story unfold from Taylor’s perspective, the heartbreak, the longing, the obsession. We can all identify with that. But it’s the couplet of /She wears high heels, I wear sneakers/ She's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers/ Dreaming bout the day when you'll wake up and find/That what you're looking for has been here the whole time/ that packs the emotional wallop. Despite the fact that Taylor Swift is probably the most popular artist in the world today, she is the outsider and she is looking for validation. This turns the whole song on its head.

Chart pop of this decade has relied on female artists taking on a position of power. From Christina Aguilera to Pink, to Britney Spears songs have mostly been about the female carving out their place in the world as a form of empowerment. Rarely do they play the role of the outsider unless it is in a sexually submissive sense. Critics have argued that You Belong With Me creates a situation which suggests that it is okay to pine, and to wait, and to dream, and to wish for the unattainable. Why is this a bad thing?

You Belong With Me should stand in the pantheon of great pop music. It is arguably the greatest song of its kind of the decade. Strip away the persona of Taylor Swift's celebrity and its possible to liken her to the great singer songwriters of yesteryear. You Belong With Me not only captures the feelings of millions of others in the past, present and future, but it sounds if the song could have been written by me alone in my bedroom late at night. The essence of pop music is to make the exceeding complicated deceptively simple. Taylor Swift makes me wish I was a great songwriter, and while I lack her extraordinary talent I’m more than happy for her musical prowess to help me along my own fractured emotional journey.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Rocket Man

She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine a.m.
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It's lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did

And all this science I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man
And I think it's gonna be a long long time...

I am full of contradictions. I am so intensely private to so many, but talkative once trust is earned. Sometimes I feel like saying the same thing a thousand times just because it is the most important thing in the world. They say a picture paints a thousand words, well to me, my feelings feel a million words. But how can you say the same thing so many times over before it becomes redundant and loses all its meaning? It is a question I’ve been struggling with lately.

And so this leads me to Rocket Man. Released eleven years before my birth, in 1972 by Elton John, it is quite simply one of the best songs ever recorded. I have so many different memories attached to this song, and it has spoke to me at so many different points in my life, for so many different reasons.

The first is on the bus on the way to special school. I couldn’t say much at the tender age of 5 for I had just learnt my first word a year earlier, but all I knew was that I loved the song. As the bus travelled through the South Western suburbs of Adelaide on the way to the torture chamber known as the Regency Park Centre, I would pretend that my wheelchair was a Rocket, ostensibly to fly away, away from the mess that was my life at that point. A life of soreness, crying and stretching. The staff eventually got wind of this too because they figured out the only way to attach me to my ‘standing frame’ (where they’d literally strap my legs in standing up so I couldn’t move) without me crying was to sing Rocket Man

Almost a decade later was the Year 7 Mitcham Primary School Science Fair. The school had Rocket Man playing over the oval PA all day, and that was the first time I realised how much I was attracted to girls. Some Year 12 girls from Mitcham Girls High had come over to help organise the fair. They were about ten of them, nine of which were assigned to co-ordinate the activities, the odd one out was assigned to be 'my helper'. Her name was Danielle, she had shoulder length brown hair and she followed me around all day and she smiled, boy did she smile. And she made sure that I was always first in line for all the activities, and she bought me a Coke. At the end of the day, she gave me a hug and said ‘Thanks for a great day!’ and as she left Elton sang ‘And I think its gonna be a long, long time’. I never saw her again.

Then yesterday Rocket Man came up again. Free of those previous memories, it spoke to me on a whole new level. It spoke to my frustration, the loneliness, but also the contradiction between freedom and constraint, being able to achieve anything, but all at once feeling tied down. Space is infinite, but it is also tiresome and restrictive.

It speaks to me on a whole new level because now I have taken off, reaching for the stratosphere, wishing for the things that I have left behind, people who aren’t quite ready to take the journey with me. Do I wait for them? Or do I take the journey?

It also speaks principally to my addictive personality. I always promise myself I will take things slow, but I never do. Even as I write this I am contemplating breaking a promise I have made to myself today because I can’t quite curb what I am frightened will eventually become an unhealthy addiction.

All of this being heavily ironic of course, because during the recording of unquestionably his greatest song ever Elton John was under the vice of so many addictions. Perhaps that’s why he and Bernie Taupin wrote it, they wanted to board his rocket to travel far away from their vices. See everything links back to Rocket Man. Only this time I wish to board my Rocket to bring me closer to the world, not further away. But as the song goes ‘I think it's gonna be a long long time...’