Or at least mouth the words. Who knows what they’re really singing anyhow?
I’m no different than most of the world, in that I like to tap my feet and sing along, even if I have no rhythm and certainly no singing talent. Enthusiasm makes up for a lot, especially when no one is listening.
In the car recently I dug a random cassette out of the bag kept behind the passenger seat (full of random cassettes for just such a purpose) and threw it into the tape player. And discovered, to my delight, that it was a copy of a tape my very first boyfriend had made me. When I stopped at the traffic lights and counted back on my fingers, I realised that it had been nineteen years since he’d sent the original to me.
I was fifteen. He was twenty. We lived six hundred kilometres apart – I was in Auckland and he was in Wellington – and had fallen in love through letters (we were pen-pals through RTR Countdown, the music magazine of the day). At the time he sent this tape, I’m not sure we’d even met, although every few days we sent massive twenty-page letters to each other. But about six months after we ‘met’ he moved to Auckland, and in total we were together for nearly two years. Which is a lifetime when you’re still in high school.
He would have spent a lot of time putting that mix tape together for me. Deciding which songs would have the most symbolism / amusement / amore factor – designed to impress a fifteen year-old over half the country’s distance. The songs he already had on tape he would have pulled or out of the box. The ones he didn’t, he’d have called and requested that the student radio station play, so he could tape them off the radio. There are still small snippets of D.J’s saying “And this one’s for [name] – ‘You Suck!’” which is amusing and depressing all at once, from the perspective of the older me. But the time spent to create this small piece of musical history was immense.
Two weeks later, songs collected and taped and re-taped into order, I would have received the cassette in the mail, carefully decorated with twinked lettering, and a note accompanying it telling me all the songs, and why he chose them. And I played that tape over and over and over again.
So last week was a singing extravaganza down memory lane as I played through the copy of that tape – goodness knows when I copied it and why, but it certainly wasn’t the original. I tapped the steering wheel along to Green Jelly’s Three Little Pigs, and snickered madly at Milli Vanilli and their Dreams to Remember (who I knew were added for a laugh). I was sad at R.E.M. all over again – Everybody Hurts always hurts – and thought political thoughts about Midnight Oil and the Erebus plane crash. And of course I felt rude as the Yeastie Girls told me that I suck (or was that my boyfriend sucking?). I re-heard the first ska music I’d ever been exposed to, remembered my dislike of Depeche Mode, and adored King Missile and their detachable body parts. George Carlin told me an Incomplete List of Impolite Words, so many of which were completely new to me at the time. ‘Shooting putty at the mooooon’ remains a favourite. It’s wanking, dontcha know?
It’s an old tape. It’s past its prime, stretched and wriggling at times. The music is dated, the politics changed. But it’s full of memories – good and bad – and they’re a reminder of everything that’s changed. Nineteen years, four long-term relationships, deaths and births and education and friendships and massive life changes. And the belated discovery of orgasms.
But the music is still good.
| Curvaceous Dee