Music Means TimeMusic means time... Sometimes that time is a childhood memory. A fight, a death, a loss, a movie, or something totally ordinary. If a song catches it, those are the things that keep time in your life - and sometimes change it."
Jeff Buckley, 1994
Doin' the Stuff That You Do
Here, in this building, in 1994, I had a job cutting out styrofoam fish-shapes with a hot wire cutter. I listened to triple j while I worked, and distinctly remember producing slightly more fish than usual when Ween's 'Voodoo Lady' was played.
In November 2011 I went inside the building to take a photo of the room where all this happened, but was escorted from the premises by a security guard, who saw me on the CCTV and thought I was acting suspiciously. This shot of the window is as close as I could get.
Falling to Pieces
This is where I used to catch the bus to Meadowbank TAFE during the second half of 1990. Because it was about ten minutes walk from my parents' house, I associate it with songs that appear roughly ten minutes into the albums I was listening to at the time. As I paced anxiously up and down, peering around the bend in the road hoping to see the bus, I heard New Order's 'Temptation', 'O My God' by The Police, and 'Falling to Pieces' by Faith no More.
McDonalds, Broadway. In 1994, I went to see Oliver Stone's 'Natural Born Killers' at the Hoyts movie theatre on George St. The film's hyperactive style, apocalyptic themes and high-energy soundtrack (Patti Smith, Nine Inch Nails, Tha Dogg Pound, L7) got me very worked up. It was after midnight when I walked out of the theatre, but I felt I couldn't just go home. There being nowhere else to go, I went to McDonalds, sat in a chair near the window, and worried about the end of civilisation as we know it.
In 1994, Urge Overkill's cover of Neil Diamond's 'Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon' was released as a single from the soundtrack to 'Pulp Fiction'. I heard it for the first time in a car parked in this parking space.
I lived in an apartment upstairs. Below us, there was a studio where Australian R & B group CDB were recording their cover of Earth Wind and Fire's 'Let's Groove'. They worked late into the night, and I would hear the song's distinctive bass line in my dreams.
There's No Other Way
In the nineties, the only thing people missed more than the seventies was the nineties. One day in 1998, I played Blur's 1991 hit 'There's No Other Way' on a community radio show I was presenting. Afterwards, a girl who worked at the station told me it made her yearn for the days when English music was really good, "back in the early nineties". I stared at this power point, and mumbled some sort of agreement.
You Could Be Mine
One Thursday in 1991, I stood here, outside the Virgin Megastore, trying to decide which of Guns n Roses' simultaneously released new albums I should buy. (Use Your Illusion 1 had 'Don't Cry' and 'November Rain' on it, but Use Your Illusion 2 had 'You Could be Mine'.) In the end I became confused, and bought the CD single of Pearl Jam's 'Alive' instead.
As a direct result of my decision, Sunset Strip-style heavy metal began its sudden and brutal slide into the dustbin of history, and Alternative Rock was installed in its place as the official soundtrack to youthful rebellion in the 1990s.
Ding a Ding Dang
In 1991, I had a job as a junior clerk at a Barristers' chambers in Sydney. I wore a cheap suit and ran errands for lawyers who were hard at work defending disgraced entrepeneurs of the late eighties. As I pushed trolleys full of legal documents up and down Martin place, I listened to Alternative Rock on my Walkman. The irony of this hadn't escaped me. In fact, like many of the singers I was listening to, I lived on a fairly steady diet of the stuff.
One day I was pushing my trolley along, listening to ministry's Jesus Built My Hotrod, when my friend Arthur Lawrence stopped me, in this exact spot, and said, "what the fuck are you DOING?"
(A few minutes after I took this picture, I was sitting in a cafe, looking out the window, when I was astonished to see Arthur Lawrence himself walk past.)