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Mark declared boldly “We mustn’t dwell, no not today. We can’t. Not on Rex Manning Day!!!”
Well, for fans of 1995 cult film Empire Records, it is the perfect day to do just that. “Damn the man!” In this case: Mark is the man, I’m the idiot, and we’re all winners.
Why do we love this day so much? It’s the day in which the bulk of Empire Records is set – beginning from the morning after the fateful night before, when Lucas was handed the honourable responsibility of closing the store for Joe. We all know what was to occur, and what re-circulated on the fateful evening of April 7th. It’s the 8th where Joe & the store’s lives were turned in all directions, made more complex by the visit of the one and only Rex Manning. The characters we meet, love, hate, sing with and root for, captivate us with their individual adolescent struggles and furthermore interactions with the other delinquents in the “family”. Music is the glue that holds it all together.
I am just one of a large number of “freaks” who felt so much excitement upon the buzz of entering a record store in the 1990s (or earlier)… the ones where real music was being played, bands you’ve never heard of, t-shirts, sticky carpets, in-store signings, gig tickets, and you’d hang out there for hours just watching those who served behind the counter, wishing you could be that person one day. To me, the main one was Gaslight Records on Bourke Street in Melbourne. I’d deliberately get off at the wrong tram stop just to walk past. The most exciting signing day for me there was Jebediah. Most of us freaks don’t shoot up the place like Warren, but we empathize with his soul. And wish we were part of Joe’s family for disenchanted, left-of-centre, music-loving youth.
On this Rex Manning Day, we defiantly dwell. On Twitter (@TheSongNerd) over the past 20 days, I have counted down my 20 favourite Empire Records quotes. Here we go:
20Craps Dealer: Feeling lucky? Lucas: I am guided by a force much greater than luck…
19Debra: I went to rock and roll heaven, and I wasn’t on the guest list…
18Debra: Is that how u always imagined your 1st time would be? Ur back up against the daily totals & ur feet pounding against the safe? ‘Oh Rexy stop that. You’re. So. Sexy!’
17Joe: How old are you? Warren: Old enough to kick ur butt thru your skull & splatter ur brains on the wall Joe: (to cop) Yeah, he’s a juvenile
16Debra: God, that is so clever. I swear you get smarter the shorter your skirt gets…
15Lucas: Rap, metal, rap, metal, Whitney Houston…someone like you needs to diminish their criminal impulses, not magnify them.
14Jane: What are you doing later? Joe: I’m either going to jail or hell. I can’t decide.
13Lucas: Joe I think it’s gonna be OK Joe: What makes you say that? Lucas: Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear..
12Warren: Who glued these quarters down? AJ: I did. W: What the hell for man?! AJ: I don’t need to explain my art to you, Warren…
11Joe: What’s it doing in Atlantic City, Lucas?” Lucas: “Recirculating.”
10Mark (answers phone): Empire Records, open ’til midnight, this is Mark. (Pause) Midnight! (Hangs up)
9Gina: Well, Sinead O’Rebellion! Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behaviour!”
8AJ: What’s with you today? Lucas: What’s with today, today?
7Eddie: This music is the glue of the world, Mark. It’s what holds it all together. Without this, life would be meaningless.
6Joe: Let me explain it to you: Mitchell’s the man, I’m the idiot, you’re the screw-up, and we’re all losers. Welcome to Music Town.
5Corey: I have to bring Rex his lunch. Joe: Berko is. Corey: I have to bring Rex his lunch. Joe: Berko is. Corey: I’M BRINGING REX HIS LUUNNCH!!! Joe: Alright.
4Mark: Damn the man. Save the Empire!
3Warren: Stop calling me Warren! My name isn’t f***ing Warren! Eddie: His name isn’t Warren. Corey: His name isn’t Warren. Berko: His name isn’t Warren. Mark: I thought his name was Warren?!
2Lucas: In the immortal words of The Doors, “The time to hesitate is through.”
1Mark: We mustn’t dwell…no, not today. We can’t. Not on #RexManningDay
There are so many more rippers! Let me know yours – comment below or tweet me @TheSongNerd, and on this special day may we all “just fade away…”
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Publicity & advertising campaigns have begun for this year’s Not 2 Old 2 Dance event, held in Townsville this September. Fronted by Angry Anderson, first impressions suggest it’s a live music event for older adults. You’d be right. Why does it sadden, nay, anger me that this event is on at all? Let’s look at the reasons why this concert is on.
Paraphrasing from the event’s website, in an “incident that garnered national media coverage, 43-year-old Richard Fuller was ruled by a Magistrate as ‘too old to dance’ at a 2011 Cold Chisel concert”.
A 43-year-old, at a Cold Chisel concert, told he was too old to dance.
Read that again.
What the hell is the world coming to? I know we live in a PC-controlled world where people make a living out of being offended on behalf of others, but really. I’m sure there at 43, Richard was far from the oldest person in an audience of a band who was at their peak over 30 years ago. Perhaps some of his subsequent behaviour towards security was unruly, but the focus here is the Magistrate’s quote.
Quite rightly, Townsville have turned this obscene horror into a positive and last year launched the now annual Not 2 Old 2 Dance concert. Alongside Angry will be Mental as Anything, and musicians once members of The Angels, Screaming Jets, Choirboys, Billy Thorpe… the cream of 70s & 80s rock in this country who are, for the most part, well beyond the age legally declared as too old to dance. This is great, but like I mentioned earlier, it does infuriate me that it had to be established in the first place. How did we get here?
There are but a few themes that are posted on facebook these days…baby photos, holiday snaps & check-ins, tasty meals, sarcastic memes and inspirational quotes. Often some superior words of wisdom are provided by people like Nelson Mandela, who urges us to fight for what’s right. Dave Grohl, who encourages us to follow our hearts to be successful. Morgan Freeman, who gave us “Tittysprinkles”. How many of the people who ‘like’ or ‘share’ these anecdotes actually live by them? Popular messages include, and I know you’ve seen this or a variation of it, “sing like there’s nobody listening, dance like there’s nobody watching…” Do you ever do that?
Honestly, have you ever been walking down the pasta aisle of Woolworths, stopped, and shaken your head from side to side while you hold on to your trolley and your long hair flicks around your back? Screamed out “You’re the voice try to understand it” as you collect your mail from the box at your front yard? No you bloody haven’t. Because you’re worried that somebody might see you actually enjoy yourself, and you would feel ashamed.
WHY IS THERE SHAME IN THAT? Either A) Don’t post the meme or B) Actually do it. Don’t be afraid to let out the music that’s in your heart. If you’re in a library or at a funeral, be quiet. But we’re too scared to even dance a little as we walk down the street listening to our most favourite music in our earphones. Play a little air drums to the people walking past. If it makes you smile, it might just make another person smile.
A problem with Australian Culture.
Not only do we mostly confine dancing to a ‘night only’ pastime, it is also sadly a ‘drunk only’ pastime. Nod if you won’t dance at the wedding until you’ve had enough drinks. Nod if you’ve ever loaded up on drinks at home before you hit the night venue, where you wouldn’t feel right dancing sober. It’s absolutely sad that we need to be slightly out of our minds to find the freedom to actively do something that makes us happy! Drinking culture in Australia can be appalling.
This is where our issues are. By the time most 43-year-old men are dancing, they’re considered drunk. They’ve crossed the line of acceptable behaviour, and again, they acquire the pity of others. Man gets told he can’t dance, man gets angry, altercation breaks out, man ends up in court, man told ‘too old to dance’.
If there were no invisible happy police. If we felt comfortable enough to dance and sing whenever we felt like, ie down the street walking the dog, then the need to get pissed before we danced would be less important. Stupid pride. We should be above that.
Walk the streets of Fitzroy, New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, and avoid music. It’s there all day long. People playing just for the sheer joy of it. When I visited the West Indies, it was the same. Believe it or not, places exist where singing and dancing is permitted in public. And these people are actually smiling…not walking to the tram in their suit with ‘another miserable day on the commute’ all over their face. West Indians are playing music during cricket matches, while we’re making snakes out of beer cups before any volume arises from the crowd.
Last night I was out for dinner with my wife and another couple. Ordering our meals, we each order a drink. I’m participating in Dry July, so I’m alcohol-free for the month. The wild and crazy drinker of the group became me, who didn’t order an intoxicating, boozy beverage. How the hell did I become the most outlandish person at the table? The one who’s not getting half-pissed?
I ordered from the menu of Decadent Thickshakes…one made from Tim Tams. I broke in to a wide smile as I ordered, and you better believe I savoured the heck out of it. It was pure child-like joy. But that’s exactly it…it was seen as childish, and therefore somehow not appropriate, and my enjoyment became a story. It’s bloody backwards I tell you. I order a non-alcoholic drink to enjoy myself while out with friends and it’s nearly scandalous. However we came to inherit the social guidelines of what it means to be an adult these days, we’ve ended up with some seriously flawed concepts.
Earlier that night we discussed many things, travel being a recurrent focus, and part of that was about Disneyland. “The Happiest Place on Earth”, where adults are “allowed” to see things through the eyes of a child, and forget the troubles of the world for a brief moment. We shouldn’t forget that feeling – we should take some of that with us each day. Walt Disney created an empire based on making people feel good. Adult happiness is permitted worldwide, but seemingly, there are only a couple of places, such as Disneyland, where we actually permit ourselves to find it. Walt wouldn’t chastise a man for dancing, I bet.
I return you to a quote from Richard Fuller, the centre of the dancing scandal, “I didn’t think I was annoying anyone and everyone was cheering for me,” he said. “I was standing up on my chair double fist-pumping, but I didn’t want to block people’s view … that’s why I went into the aisle. I’d been dancing the whole time but they took me out as the band was finishing I missed the last song.”
It’s a live music event. Music can make people feel each and every emotion, and this man was not only enjoying himself, but helping others feel happy also. This audience would be too scared to dance themselves, but were made happy because somebody else was doing it.
Then Kim Jong-un came along and prohibited fun.
I recently celebrated my 30th birthday with a Bavarian Beer Garden themed afternoon at my parents’ house. Dressing up in costume gave people a reason to smile during the day, wether they did it themselves or just watched the joy of others reflected. A great start. We had blue & white balloons to match the theme, and we were about to tie some balloons to the front letterbox so guests knew which house was ours. Dad shut it down – it was a “terrible idea,” he said. “It’s not a child’s party,” he said. After the argument died down, I had a quiet chat with him. I told him that the people coming are my friends. I’m 30 years old. I’m not concerned if anybody thought that the day was childish. These people like me, they know me. Balloons are a symbol of celebration, they are fun. That’s everything I wanted to convey on this day, and had absolutely no issue with the potential embarrassment a few balloons may mean. I hope in his eyes he saw a confident adult when I explained that.
As adults, we’re embarrassed to enjoy anything the way we used to enjoy things as kids. Then we pine for the days when pleasures were so simple. NEWSFLASH: Pleasure is still as simple. We’re just too proud to indulge. Have to be mature. Have to be polite. Have to be sensible.
Fuck that. Order a Tim Tam thickshake. Be the first to dance at the wedding. Put on an episode of Full House and laugh when Mary-Kate says “You got it, dude”. Actually dance like nobody’s watching, in broad daylight, and revel in the freedom it makes you feel.
And if you find your 43 year old self at a Cold Chisel concert, defy the Magistrate and do whatever it is that’s in your heart to do. (sans violence, of course). I’m glad Not 2 Old 2 Dance is providing people with an environment in which they’re not afraid to do so.
*This article was written in my front yard, streaming online radio, singing out loud. I hope the neighbours heard.