The best and truly most exquisite quality of music is its power to emotionally transport you back to a specific time, place or person, and the ensuing feelings that in your mind will always be associated with a particular song or record. Just a few bars of the first track on David Bowie’s “Hunky Dory” LP and I am a university student again, headphones on and back in the upstairs listening room of Fisher Library, University of Sydney. Listening to the album “Cold Fact” by Rodriguez and it is not long before I am drifting off into fond memories; I’m twenty years old again, sitting in a darkened lounge room at 161 Bourke St. Darlinghurst with the gorgeous Jo and feeling the heartache of when we parted. To hear those famous song lyrics “and the coloured girls go do, do- do, do, do, do-do…” from Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” and suddenly I am watching Lou Reed on stage at the Horden Pavilion, Sydney, with my friend Laurie, who later became addicted to heroin. When I hear the song “When You See a Chance, Take It” off Steve Winward’s solo album “Arc of a Diver”, I cannot help but picture myself in a bedroom in Kensington, London, breaking up with my beautiful and gentle girlfriend of that time and reliving the whole, shameful scene again. Whenever Boz Scaggs’ “Lido Shuffle” comes onto the radio, I am back in the front seat of my team captain’s car on the way to another rugby league match in the sunny beach suburbs of Sydney with warm sunshine on my face and the smell of liniment in my nostrils. I put my Michael Franks LP, “Objects of Desire”, on the turntable and I relive the exact instant that I broke up with a former girlfriend. Hear any Hank Williams tune and I see the interior of the Capertee Hotel and the smile of a pretty, young and darkhaired girl. Listen to the brilliant Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Cold Shot” and I am on stage with the boys at “The Tavern” nightclub in Bathurst, on the long weekend in October 1995; what a fabulous night! Hear Flaco Jiménez’s piano accordion on Ry Cooder’s album “Chicken Skin Music” and the loving, openhearted Helga appears before my very eyes.
Last night was an extraordinary night of music and memories.