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My life as a musical?

Maybe not such a good idea

By Phil FlanneryPublished 10 months ago 9 min read
My life as a musical?
Photo by Nik Korba on Unsplash

My brain nearly exploded with excitement at seeing this challenge pop up. Music means so much to me. It has been a balm to soothe my shattered nerves, a post-it note that reminds me of times past, both good and bad, a mile-marker if you will, a connection to those I love, or a sweet tribute to someone missing from my life. That being said, I will apologise for the rambling mess that is to follow and also to the many amazing artists I have not mentioned.

My father had a stack of 78rpm records that would often come out when I was young. He seemed to like Bing Crosby, at least that’s the name I connect to that time. I also recall listening to Spike Jones, a funny satirist, with a notable song about Beetlebomb the racehorse. I inherited the records, but me being a somewhat transient youth and their brittleness, not many survived before I finally gave them away. My mother owned a piano, but I never heard her play.

And they’re off…

In my early teens, much like the youth of today, I would lose myself in my newly found music. My mother bought me a little radio so I could drown out the din outside my bedroom. As it was the mid-seventies, disco was big on commercial radio and with it, R&B soul. I had no intention of dancing, but I loved it all, the more melancholic and heartbreaking the better.

Gladys knights’ ‘So sad the song’. Awww.

Then at 13, my family had a major upheaval and me and my younger sisters were taken in by older siblings. As difficult as my situation became, having to leave my home opened me up to a world of music that had been hidden from me. The 70’s were rockin’.

The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, America, Neil Young, ELO, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Queen, Cat Stevens (Yusuf). This is just a sample of what I was exposed to from overseas, Here in Oz, we were giving birth to AC/DC, Little River Band and many more great artists that the rest of the world probably never heard. My mind was blown. We already had the BeeGees!

“Looking back comes easy when the right song comes on.”

We lived with an older, sensible sister, but had to commute quite a way to remain in our schools. On our way home we would often stop in at a house which could be best described as a dump(den of iniquity some might say), but was the best place to hang out, and there was always music playing. One of my older brothers rented it, but at least three of my siblings lived there at any given time; there were a lot of us. There were a lot of parties too, which we were too young for, but I knew they got loose. It was the seventies man.

I have a Spotify playlist named for this house.

My dedication to the 70’s has to come from Pink Floyd’s, Dark Side of the Moon. It covered pretty much every emotion and spoke of many things from capitalism to mental health. ‘The Floyd’ represent the weird hippy smoke haze, that that house existed in. I kinda wanna choose ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ but that seems a little indulgent, so I feel the song that explains what I needed then is ‘Breathe’. The lyrics are so simple but say so much.

OK everyone, let’s all, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…

My next eldest brother, by three years, introduced me to many great memories. Sadly, he is no longer with us. As tribute to him I will choose something from Supertramp, but once again the choice is impossible. ‘Crime of the Century was the first album he lent me and ‘Bloody Well Right’ was like swearing in public to my young ears. It all sounded very subversive to me and perfect timing, as I was coming out of a difficult relationship with Catholicism; nothing creepy, just a little cultish. I related to all of these songs, but ‘School’ seems fitting, as I was coming to the end of my time there when I first listened to it.

Schools out!

In my last year of high school, I fell in love. It would be a love unrequited, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only young man captivated by the beautiful, uber-talented, Kate Bush. My bucket list has her at the top as an act to see live; I think I’ve missed that boat. ‘Wuthering Heights’ was like nothing I had heard. ‘Moving’ is such a beautiful song and I would happily choose it, but my adult ears hear it as a sensual, almost erotic song, I didn’t pick up on that back then. So, my choice is ‘The Man with the Child in His Eyes’. This always takes me back to the end of high school 1978. I played the hell out of this tape.

I’m still a big kid.

I finally found music on my own, well after Kate I suppose. The first Dire Straits album was awesome, and I followed them up to and including ‘Brothers in Arms’. They had that American blues sound permeating through it but sang of life in England; clever. My choice is an impossible one again, because the whole album is brilliant, but choose I must and ‘Water of Love’ it shall be.

We all need to drink from that river.

The eighties had some absolute rubbish with commercial radio, and all the video shows, out-doing each other to drown out the good stuff. But some geniuses came to the fore then too. Police, Phil Collins, U2, our own INXS, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush powered into the eighties, but I should confess that I was quite distracted then, because I fell in love again, this time with a mere mortal, so for this reason I’m going to choose the song that became ‘our song’. It should be something from Phil Collins because our first two dates were to see him, but no, for the cheesiest of reasons I have selected ‘In your eyes’, by Peter Gabriel, simply because it was in a movie we both loved.

Say anything, I dare ya.

I tuned out of music for a long time. I had my old LP’s and tapes that I bored the kids with, but with children came great acts like ‘The Wiggles’ and High5 and children’s television. Yay! As they got older the Spice Girls, SClub7, Bewitched, ruled our house and that was fine. The likes of Brittany Spears began assaulting my aural senses and my sanity. I preferred Christina Aguilera…Ain’t no other man can stand, up next to you... There were great acts like Alanis Morissette, R.E.M., Lenny Kravits, Pearl Jam, Crowded House and the still very relevant ‘Foo Fighters’; Dave Grohl is a God. But what to choose? I have decided to dedicate the 90’s to my children, mainly influenced by my daughters. Spice Girls, ‘Stop Right Now’. Ah, my babies. I should say I have two boys as well, but to this day I don’t know their musical preferences. Special mention to the late Jeff Buckley. ‘Grace’ is one of my all-time favourite albums.

Stop, Don’t stop, I wish these bands could get their stuff together.

The noughties. The decade that smashed us with MP3 players and for those who could afford them Ipods. I wasn’t buying a lot of music then and my music was influenced by what we listened to, going to and from football training (soccer for those in the States) and later, when I was teaching my daughter to drive. My head was still stuck in the 70’s and early 80’s. It took me a while, but I finally found Coldplay, who will drag me into the next decade. For this decade though I will select an unusual track, mainly because this is one of my favourite movies. Technically this song came out in 1999, but because it wasn’t infected by the Y2K bug, it gets in. Smashmouth, ‘Allstar’.

“Oh, that’s not very nice. He’s just a donkey.”

2010’s and I am about to enter my 50’s. This decade is all about live music and streaming for me. I know streaming has been around for a while, but when it comes to new things, I wait for the bugs to be ironed out before I commit and commit I did. I am on Spotify just about every day. I saw more live acts this decade, than any other time in my life. I mean, when I was young I saw INXS at Stuarts Point Bowling Club, when they were touring Shabooh Shoobah up and down the east coast of Australia in the early eighties. I saw Eric Burden at Lidcome RSL in the late seventies. These places don’t compare to Madison Square Garden or the O2 arena, but that’s about as big as I liked it. My first arena gig was Coldplay touring their Mylo Zyloto album and my children took me for my 50th birthday. It was amazing. Since then, it has been a great ride of events, big and small, oversees artists and local. Shania Twain, Phil Collins, Florence and the Machine, Cyndi Lauper and Blondie, Gang of Youths, Nathaniel Raitliffe. I went to my first festival, Bluesfest, where Jackson Browne, Cheryl Crow, Seal and First Aid Kit, blew us away, but were all outdone by the amazingly talented Melissa Etheridge.

I would like to mention the other great influence on my music choices, The J’s. Triple J is an iconic FM station that is part of our national broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and has been the youth radio station of choice since the early 80’s. What drew me back to it in my later years was that it is commercial free, and they promote new music without a lot of repetition, especially Australian artists. Through their App, they have other stations, most notably Double J and Unearthed, a place where unsigned acts can upload their music, and anyone can access it. This station has helped many into their music careers. For this reason, I will choose an Aussie act that came through Unearthed.

Gordi, ‘Extraordinary Life’.

So, here we are in 2023. If you’re reading this, you made it through Covid and lockdown and working from home and hopefully TikTok hasn’t driven you insane. Concerts and festivals are happening again, now borders are open. Social distancing seems a distant thing now. My most recent concert was Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. Awesome show. I saw Gang of Youths again. Awesome show, then as a surprise, because I missed out due to Covid, my wife organised a whirlwind trip to Coffs Harbour (look it up if you must), a three and a half hour drive, to see Ball Park Music, a great Aussie band that I smash out on Spotify often. Aussies represent.

It is nice to be alive. Wouldn’t you agree.

Thanks for your patience. I know I got a little carried away. I probably over-shared, but this was so important to me. I hope you listen to some of my choices and if I could make one more suggestion, Middle Kids are brilliant.

90s music80s music70s music

About the Creator

Phil Flannery

Damn it, I'm 61 now, which means I'm into my fourth year on Vocal, I have an interesting collection of stories. I love the Challenges and enter, when I can, but this has become a lovely hobby.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (8)

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  • Caroline Jane9 months ago

    Had to read yours Phil! Some serious musical pedigree in here. Great challenge entry. 🥰

  • Cendrine Marrouat9 months ago

    I really enjoyed reading your ramblings and discovering your favorite music. Kate Bush has always been fantastic, hasn't she? And of course, Supertramp's School is a masterpiece.

  • Brenton F9 months ago

    Lured in by the Linda Ronstadt record I stayed and read your article - love it! I had The Kick Inside on yesterday and Crime of the Century the day before.

  • KJ Aartila10 months ago

    I love your enthusiasm and your passion. Very good!

  • Jay Kantor10 months ago

    Hi Phil - Thanks for the 'Tasty' Licorice Pizzas - - Whistling to Supertramp ~ Goodbye 'Aussie' Stranger - Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Author Community -

  • Mariann Carroll10 months ago

    I enjoyed your playlist and the story you created along with the song . Sorry about your brother. Great pick of songs 🥰

  • Absolutely packed with stuff, some things I think are great, some not so, but if we all liked the same thing life would be boring. This is excellent.

  • This was so enjoyable! I loved it!

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