I think Sally Albright's best friend (Carrie Fisher)said it best when she tells her boyfriend, "Look, everyone thinks they have good taste and a great sense of humour, but we can't possibly all have great taste so...."
.......so she wins the argument and he's forced to leave his wagon-wheel coffee table outside on the kerb.
The same goes for music. We all have our obscure bands that we loved and either hoped they'd make it big (to prove our skills at finding real talent) or remain alternative and undiscovered if only to increase our own coolness factor.
If you're firmly in FM-playlist territory, this is easy to fake by inventing any weird name in your head, citing them as your favourite band, adding, "...but Flunkey Munkey and the Fudge Buckets were really only big on the US college circuit and the indy scene for a short time but were fantastic to see play live...." People will politely say, "Oh..." and leave it at that; mercifully granting you one less sneer at your daggy mainstreamishness.
Our first loves in music, of course, were nowhere near as mannered and as consciousness as they are now. When I first heard ABBA sing 'SOS' in 1975, I was immediately smitten. Sure, being only seven years old at the time had limited my capacity to analyse a well-written lyric or wardrobe, but the love was real, and has endured over the years.
I'll never forget the disappointment at not being allowed to go to the Abba concert at footy park in 1977 ("The tickets are fourteen dollars each - that's far too much!") but made do with a t-shirt transfer given away in Bata school shoe boxes, eating their pink bubble gum, subscribing to their monthly fan magazine and grabbing every single poster, annual or book I could lay my hands on. They were so melodic, so Swedishly beautiful (yes, I was always Agnetha and my brunette neighbour Jodi was Frida, or my little brother was bodily forced to take over if Jodi was unavailable) and it seemed as though everyone's Mum and Dad liked them so we got to hog the family radiogram (in 'clear mono sound') or early stereos without being told to turn it off.
Abba were such a departure from what my parents inflicted on us - The Ray Conniff Singers, Roger Whitaker (good whistler, but not really enough to sustain an entire music career), Nana Mouskouri (resembling an earnest English teacher), Neil Diamond (I forgave them for Neil as his 'Hot August Night' double set is now also in my collection), Simon and Garfunkel (ditto) and anything that 5MU played in between announcing the Saturday sports results after tea.
In January 1989 when I bought my first serious stereo system complete with both a turntable and a CD player, I shamefully hid my ABBA CDs under a pile of the more acceptable (at the time, at least) albums by Icehouse, Ian Moss and Midnight Oil. I daresay I was one of the very few 20 year olds who had spent their first real paycheque on buying CDs of every single one of ABBA's albums which I already owned on vinyl. Even now when I hear 'When I kissed the teacher', I still pause where the record used to skip before realising that it doesn't happen on the CD.
By 1979, I was eleven and boys had started to feature as serving a purpose other than to chase, pummel and give a dead leg to, and rollerskating became my main passion. Round and round the cement path of our house, with my transistor radio fastened to my jeans with one of Dad's old belts. Or better still, dropped off at the Murray Bridge basketball stadium with three dollars so that I could hire a pair of real rollerskates (the boots, not the-strap-your-sneakers-into kind) and wheel around the double courts for an hour in an anti-clockwise direction before the bored manager would holler out, "REVERSE NOW" for the remaining hour. I'd limp home with heels covered in blisters, legs shaking in exhaustion and a huge smile on my face.
Part of the attraction was the music - 1979 saw an end to dodgy disco (which I'm proud to say that I never liked) and the obsession with John Travolta (Grease - bleugh) and an emergence of post-punk edginess. The rollerskating entrepreneurs only had the one soundtrack, but thank fully it included 'Video Killed the Radio Star', My Sharona, Turning Japanese, Billy Joel's 'It's still rock-n-roll to me', Ian Dury and the Blockheads' Hit Me with your rhythm stick, lots of Blondie, Boney M, Racey and the entire song list of Voulez Vous.
The eighties found me watching Countdown on Sunday nights religiously and only playing the ABBA records on my own - like an old friend that I didn't want my new, cooler mates (or tapes) to find out about. Madness, The Police, Styx (yes, *sigh* yes....), Foreigner, Huey Lewis (yes, the 1983 album. But only in 1983) and anything seasonally marketed: 1980 Full Boar (with a fetching photograph of a severed pig's head wearing a pair of massive headphones); 1982 With A Bullet, 1983 In The Sun and 1984 Choose Life!
Senior highschool and university saw Midnight Oil, U2, Hunters and Collectors, Joe Jackson, Spy vs Spy, Hoodoo Gurus, Oingo Boingo, The Damned and Bruce Springsteen take over. Sadly, some have become stuck on the constant rotation of FM 'classic hits' playlists, but at the time they were chock-full of energy, aggro and life and were the soundtracks to pub crawls, 18ths, 21sts, housewarmings, all-night essay fests and camping trips. Kissing Sean to Bruce's 'I drove all night', yelling drunkenly along to 'Am I ever gonna see your face again' at the Dover pub in North Adelaide; throwing myself down onto the carpet during 'Rock Lobster' and listening to Fine Young Cannibals 'Good Thing' in the car on the way home from my graduation.
Ugly Kid Joe doesn't automatically spring to mind as a band known for romance, but their remake of the song 'The Cat's in the Cradle' was on heavy airplay when I was heavily into Love Chunks. I danced with baby Sapphire to 'Blue-da-ba-dee' as she giggled with glee; pretended to ballroom dance with her at three years old to 'Rollercoaster' and now lie on her bed with her, reading our respective magazines and absent-mindedly sing along to the Mamma Mia soundtrack. "Slipping through my fingers all the time...."
These days, music is much less at the forefront of my consciousness and is more like the clumsy kid with the red cordial allergy who accidentally plummets into wet cow shit on the farm excursion and is now sitting alone at the very end of the bus: loved in his own way, but not entirely wanted right now.
In my more stressed-out career moments, the clueless fumblings of new parenthood, unforeseen depression, exhaustion, insomnia, migraine-recovery, meditation with L plates and simply hanging around with Sapphire it has been silence as the preferred soundtrack to my life. Preferably with a good glass of red or icy cold Farmers Union Iced Coffee in hand as well.
Until now, that is. After being given an iPod for Christmas 2005, I've finally got around to using it. A full weekend of copying, downloading, developing playlists etc for running, power walking and themed albums has taken me right back to 1984 when I was the proud owner of a double tape deck. The sound quality's much better these days but the aim is the same - putting together a playlist that shows what great taste I have.
"If you change your mind, I'm the first in line, Honey I'm still free, take a chance on me......"