mr. zilla goes to town

Thursday, November 25, 2004

32 songs, number 0*: Supertramp - Goodbye Stranger

It was early morning yesterday
I was up before the dawn
And I really have enjoyed my stay
But I must be moving on


In allowing rostered students to bring in cassettes each week and play songs of their choice, Miss Fiegert's weekly fifth grade music class of 1986 provided the opportunity for the first prepubescent blush of posturing over musical mores that escalated to the thermonuclear pencil-case covering levels in high school. But these were the simpler days of primary school, where the marbles and footy cards you had were far more important than the bands you branded yourself with, and a time where I think most of us were just beginning to find our feet in terms of the beginnings of our own independent musical tastes.

So naturally, given the opportunity to investigate the rich tapestry of almost a century of recorded music, the class of ten year olds were united as one in attempting to shock the middle-aged Miss Fiegert by bringing in songs with rude words or scandalous innuendo.

You can laugh at my behavior
That’ll never bother me
Say the devil is my savior
But I don’t pay no heed


The two hits of the day that stick in my mind are Paul Lekakis' "Boom Boom Boom (lets go back to my room)" and the frightfully naughty "Bloody Well Right" by Supertramp. I can't quite figure out why the latter was so titillating, I mean we are talking about an all boys catholic school here with some fairly sheltered young fellas, but on the other hand recess and lunchtime were often caught up in the discussion of what exactly a head job was and how it might be possible to get one.

Nonetheless amuse and titillate us it did, enough so that I think I ended up with a copy of the "Best of Supertramp" cassette on the back of this song hoping for more of the same. How wonderful it was to be disappointed.

I now know that much of the content of this particular 'best of' came from the two albums on which Supertramp ditched their earlier prog rock, stripped their sound back to some occasionally absurdist themes and selectively minimalist pop hooks. These hooks clearly set their mark deep as despite losing the cassette a couple of years later and scarcely a thought of the band passing between my ears in a lot of years, one night about a month ago I woke up in the night with Goodbye Stranger playing through the mental monitor.

Goodbye strange it’s been nice
Hope you find your paradise
Tried to see your point of view
Hope your dreams will all come true


I've said goodbyes in my hometown of Canberra, with the sure knowledge that the elastic band of family will fling me back in that direction eventually. I've said goodbyes in mountain villages in Papua New Guinea, with the sure knowledge of the absolute improbability of ever returning. But saying goodbyes to friends from DC last night had different complexion, one tinged in my mind almost with too-honest betrayal. For despite the great friendships and bonds formed here, and sincere wishes that many of the friends here will come my way when they're in the UK next, I couldn't make any promises on the likelihood of returning or my intentions to do so. My gut feeling is that any spare time and money over the next few years my feet will be pointed east and south into Europe - a continent I've flown over but never set foot in - rather than back west into the now-familiar territory of the US. The ability to come back will be there, and the desire is present but not as competitive with other plans.

Goodbye mary, goodbye jane
Will we ever meet again?
Feel no sorrow, feel no shame
Come tomorrow, feel no pain


So its a stranger goodbye than the previous few chapters. One where the predominant feeling is joy at the watermark set on the calibre set of intriguing and diverse friendships amidst the cataclysmic political events of the last year. But one that unlike the super tramp of the song above, it is not without a new brand of self inflicted sadness.

A sadness compounded, incidentally, by trying abysmally to mix the above track in between two Chemical Brothers tracks sometime after 2am. Well you live and you learn: don't drink that third white russian till the fat lady sings. (And if there's any such singing to be done, its got to be Shirley Bassey in the Hip Length remix of the Propellerheads' History Repeating before you throw to the Basement Jaxx remix of Monday Michiru's Cruel To Be Kind.)

* - Some guy called Nick Hornby wrote a book about 31 songs but my mates at Bandwagon, the midday meal and goodbadugly are going one better. Actually between them they're going to go around sixty three better, and the work is first class, so go over and check them out. In my cowardice - or laziness - I refuse to commit to joining the 32 lap foray down memory lane but this post just goes to show its probably a battle I'm rapidly losing with myself.

2 Comments:

  • nice writing brother - you really should keep it up;)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:04 am  

  • Mr. Zilla--

    Completely know what you mean in this last post. After going to private school in England for half a year, promising to write and keep in touch with my school mates and it never happening, it sometimes seems like a lost cause. "The best intentions..."

    But, the one thing that I like to think about are the people I did meet. I like looking at their photos, remembering their names (which surprisingly I can still do) and thinking about the many stories I could tell about them. Keeps me content, somewhat distanced, as if I had killed off that 'character' of myself in another life.

    Course half a year in University is a little different than working here for over a year. Granted I was never a part of the british culture, but when I left behind my American compatriots in search of a more "authentic" cultural experience, I really took in a lot more of the attitudes than I cared to. In some parts--perhaps because I was actually thinking in british expressions and phases--I felt like I had become "English" after all was said and done.

    I bet same goes for you Mr Zilla. You are now part American. Not because of your cultural beliefs, but because America is about the culture of the "new," the "now," and the "to come." Cheers.

    "But there are times that you feel you're part of the scenery all the greenery is comin' down, boy...
    When lonely days turn to lonely nights
    you take a trip to the city lights
    And take the long way home
    Take the long way home

    You never see what you want to see
    Forever playing to the gallery
    You take the long way home
    Take the long way home...

    Does it feel that for you life's become a catastrophe?
    Oh, it has to be for you to grow, boy.
    When you look through the years and see what you could
    have been oh, what might have been,
    if you'd had more time."
    --Supertramp; Take the Long Way Home

    Best wishes,
    George

    Remember us.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:27 am  

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