Like The Way I Do

New releases in New Zealand, 12 March 1989

Melissa Etheridge – Like The Way I Do

I had forgotten about Melissa Etheridge.  I am deeply ambivalent about Country or Country adjacent music.  She’s flirting with it.  On the other hand, Like The Way I Do is a very good song and she sings the crap out of it.  I like her voice.  And her intent.  She sounds like she gives a shit.  In fact a lot of the lyrics on that first album reminded me of the kind of jealous bitterness that Alanis Morrisette channeled later on.  Also, she plays guitar and stuff.  I feel like this kind of musician has disappeared from the charts at the moment.  I realise Country-adjacent lesbian guitar-based singer-songwriter is a narrow category but, whatever.

A Melissa / Man of Errors comparison (1988).  I think that she has had quite a lot of professional attention paid to her hair and even though this is my fifteenth birthday I feel confident I have made absolutely no effort with my hair.  Now that I think about it my hairdresser once gave me a special comb for my mop but I never used it.   I may have made the effort to go to an actual hairdresser but I would definitely not have been interested in long term maintenance strategies.  Later in life Melissa has gone for a lot less volume with her hair and mine has fallen out.

I wore this shirt a lot in 1988 and 1989.  It was my go to “I-am-dressing-up-for-a-special-occasion” shirt.  Always untucked.  Alway, it seems, with my white basketball boots and stonewashed black jeans.

The picture on the left was taken after I went to the Nureyev concert with my mother, and the picture on the right is with my Gran at the back of her house in Mosgiel.

I was very fond of those white basketball boots.  They were very white and very padded.  Later I would develop a taste for leather cowboy boots.  I find it hard to write that sentence now because it sounds so ridiculous.  It was ridiculous; let’s be honest.  Also, totally impractical.  Cowboy boots are expensive, hard to get under jeans when the trend is skinny leg, and the soles wear out super fast.  I feel like I had an obsession with wearing things that were originally intended for another purpose.  I coveted and then owned basketball boots.  I have never in my life played basketball.  I feel it goes without saying that I have never been a cowboy but it’s worth saying just to see it on the page: I have never been a cowboy.  Later I would get a pirate shirt (never been a pirate), gypsy waistcoat (never been a gypsy) and a biker jacket (you get the idea).

Mind you, now I look like a National voter in finance.

It’s quite a look overall that basketball boots, jeans, dress shirt, and bushy hair.  I’m not sure why I thought I looked smart in this gear.  I went to see Nureyev dressed like this.  Seeing Nureyev was a big deal.  I suppose I thought I dressed accordingly.  I mean: I was wearing a shirt and my best jeans, what the hell else do you want?  Maybe I even used the stupid comb the hairdresser gave me.  Who knows.  Like my hair the comb is long gone.

Afterword

Into Temptation is one of my favourite Crowded House songs; especially the ending, “the guilty get no sleep…”, “…break this spell….”.  Uneasy and beautiful.

  • New Order – Fine Time (5/10)
  • Melissa Etheridge – Like the Way I Do (9/10)
  • Simply Red – It’s Only Love (6/10)
  • Crowded House – Into Temptation (8/10)
  • Depeche Mode – Everything Counts (4/10)

Sweet Sixteen

New releases in New Zealand, 5 March 1989

IMG_0764

This is the chart week when I had my birthday.  My “sweet” sixteen?

You will note, I hope, that an LP is proudly on display in the back of the shot.  The album in question is Revolutions by Jean-Michel Jarre.  This is the last album by Jarre I owned.  Before that I had accumulated: Oxygène, Équinoxe, Concerts in China, Magnetic Fields, Zoolook, and Rendez-Vous.  In other words: big fan.

I can stand by Jarre’s music to a point, but Revolutions is the point where I can’t.  It’s just dumb (except – at a stretch – Tokyo Kid).  I once listened to his albums after Revolutions out of curiousity, but for me it was after Rendez-Vous that his inspiration ran completely dry.  For some people he never had any inspiration at all and was always just a synth twiddling French twit.  There’s a part of me that agrees.  Another part disagrees though.  It’s to do with New Caledonia for me.

I went there with my mum in 1984 when I was 11.  It was an amazing holiday and one (small) part of that amazing-ness was discovering Jarre.  I’m not sure if Noumea was in a time warp, but it in 1984 it was playing the 1976 album Oxygène when we went shopping one day in a little mall.  On our last night there I sat up in my room in the hotel and watched Gallipoli directed by Peter Weir which also features music from Oxygène.  I think that Gallipoli is one of my favourite movies.  Still.  Partly because of the music.  Not just Jarre but Bizet, and Albinoni.  Weir’s early movies showed a wonderful gift for marrying music with image.

Oxygène is still his best album.  ZoolookConcerts in China too.  In all of them it’s the escape they offer: the call to the imagination.  That’s really the reason I liked Jarre so much.  In some ways it is similar to how I respond to some classical music.  I don’t understand all the technique with classical music; I respond to how it makes me feel.  Jarre is a lot less sophisticated technically but more accessible for the same reason. The opening of Oxygène is a great example.  What’s happening?  Fuck knows, but it all seems very mysterious and then very grand.  Like Jarre was asked to score Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey a decade late.

What would you do at a Jarre concert?  Take drugs I suppose.

I am strongly attracted to albums that are coherent and fantastical.  Welcome to the Pleasuredome and Purple Rain are like this.

The first photo is from Christmas 1988.  While it looks like a permed muppet sitting by fake Christmas tree contemplating existence, it is in fact a significant moment in my life for it was the Christmas of 1988 when I got a practice amp (pictured at my feet on the left) for my guitar.  This amp was purchased from Strings ‘n’ Things in Kāpiti which was run by a German dude with long hair and a beard who had once been in a band (in Germany) that recorded minor hit (in Germany).  He was a friendly chap who sold guitars and amps in his shop out front, and ran guitar lessons in groups out the back.  I took some of his lessons and think it is true to say that he taught me the 12 bar blues.

At the end of each year he had a concert where we would all perform in our lesson groups.  I can’t remember what my group performed – something like The House of the Rising Sun I think – but I do remember discovering I had no anxiety or nerves about performing on stage.  Which I still regard as odd.  You’d think a shy, only child would not be super comfy either playing guitar in public or public speaking but it turns out it causes me no issues.  An analyst somewhere could probably tell me why.  I’d guess my massive self regard is the key to it.

Anyway, I suppose that the guitar and amp I got at the end of 1988 really signalled the demise of my interest in Jarre.  I was beginning the switch to hard rock and metal, and it was in 1989 that I went into Year 11 and met the dude with all the metal cassettes I’ve talked about before.  So long French twit with synthesiser, hello American twits with guitars.

Afterword

Obviously the Bobby Brown is laughable and shit, but better than Debbie Gibson.  Travelling Wilburys?  Yeah, it’s fine.  R.E.M. and The Pogues?  I have very mixed feelings about R.E.M.  I love some of their songs and dislike others.  Stand is a song I dislike.  From the same album Orange Crush is a song I love.  The Pogues are the same.  I do like Dirty Old Town.  Everyone likes (or should) Fairytale of New York.  On the other hand I find anything related to traditional Irish music irritating (my aversion to fiddles and Enya trauma come into play here).  Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah is a good song, but it’s (deliberately?) derivative sounding.  Not such a great week really, but I’d give it to The Pogues (in this imaginary competition).

  • Bobby Brown – My Prerogative (2/10)
  • Travelling Wilburys – End of the Line (5/10)
  • R.E.M. – Stand (4/10)
  • The Pogues – Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah (6/10)
  • Debbie Gibson – Lost In Your Eyes (1/10)