Tag Archives: 80s music

I Never Liked WHAM! but…

Rewinding back to 1984, I was 14 going on 15 in Year 9 at school. I never liked WHAM! and definitely NEVER bought an album or single and especially NEVER wore a WHAM! T-Shirt. Indeed, it never crossed my mind. How embarrassing!

Yet, although I was anything but a George Michael’s fan, I still felt a deep shock when I heard the news…even sadness.

Why was it so? Why did I even care? I didn’t know the man. Wasn’t a fan.

Do I have some weird fatal attraction towards dead celebs?

I don’t think so. Indeed, I don’t even watch the news much anymore.

However, what with the Christmas break and Sydney experiencing heat wave conditions, I’ve been hibernating in front of the TV a bit while writing. I also call this recuperating from the stress of Christmas past and a busy year.

This naturally meant that I not only heard that George Michael had passed away, but much of the media follow-up and it drew me into its orbit.

Well, I was genuinely sorry to hear that the man had died at 53. Not because he was George Michael, but because he was human. Had hopes and dreams and they were cut short. Moreover, when you’re talking about someone with such immense musical talent and influence, even I think about what might have been. After all, we’ve all moved forward since WHAM! and 1984.

Or, have we?

Although my memories are rather hazy, George Michael’s death took me straight back to 1984. It was like I’d just boarded a time machine and was back in my old school uniform, wearing my old (or should I say young) skin. We were all writing notes in class and I’m not talking about class notes. There were much more important things to discuss. I clearly remember two of my fans were crazed, obsessive WHAM! fans. One adored George and the other one was equally “in love” with Andy. These friends were joined at the hip just like Kath & Kim. They were so into WHAM! that it was almost fused into their DNA.  They had WHAM! on everything. I love WHAM! scrawled all over their pencil cases, folders and their cassettes playing in their Walkmen. You get the drift. WHAM! had become a disease…not terminal but still a disease.

Yet, over the years, somehow WHAM! songs have crept into my psyche  and I’ve even found myself singing along to the car radio. Shock horror! I even knew all the words. Not that I’ve ever been a fan, but WHAM! was like that. It somehow became a part of me without my knowledge, awareness or consent.

How do these things happen?

Then, George Michael died this week. I didn’t even know the man. Yet, there’s media coverage everywhere and you don’t even need to go looking for grief, fuel for grief and stories to change your impressions of the man. They’re knocking on every door you’ve got. Indeed, I found out about his incredible anonymous acts of generosity and how he didn’t come out for some time, because he didn’t want his mum to worry about the horrors of AIDS. Sure, there were less noble moments, but I began to feel humbled, apologetic and even a tad ashamed. We judge celebrities on the scantiest of information, if you could even call it that, and are so damn sure of our opinions. I didn’t think twice.

Indeed, it reminds me of an Elton song: Candle in the Wind.

Yes, we didn’t know George Michael either.

So, George I’m sorry.

Meanwhile, I’m firing my time machine back up again. This time, we’re off to 1977 when my uncle took my brother and I to see Star Wars. Star Wars at the movies. That was when we first met R2D2, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Not that I went crazy over it, but I still remember going to that movie and that my uncle took me. I was 8 years old. That was so many lifetimes and goodness knows how many versions ago and I’m now taking my kids to see it.

However, that wasn’t why I was sad when Carrie Fisher passed away.

Again, it was because she was human and no mother should ever have to bury their own child and tragically, Debbie Reynolds didn’t. She had a stroke planning her daughter’s funeral, overwhelmed by grief. They might have know fame and been Hollywood royalty but they were mother and daughter first…family.

Watching Crowded House.

Last Saturday night, Crowded House performed live on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

Unfortunately, we missed it, but the concert was televised ABC TV on Sunday night and we were all parked in front of the TV reminiscing with Neil Finn and the band. Indeed, they were playing in our very own lounge room. Weren’t we lucky!!

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Neil Finn

In case you haven’t heard of Crowded House, it’s an Australian rock band. It was formed in 1985 by  New Zealander Neil Finn and Australians Paul Hester and Nick Seymour. They were later joined by Neil’s older brother, Tim Finn. Both Neil and Tim Finn hailed from Split Enz.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a band person and there have never been any bands I’ve hero worshipped, longing for their next album. However, there were favourite songs, which I’ll never forget, but you probably need to be 40 something or over to know any of these.That said, I can mention Electric Blue by Icehouse without embarrassing myself.

Anyway, getting back to Crowded House…

I got quite a rush hearing many of the old Crowded House songs again. Not that I could’ve picked them as Crowded House. Yet, the songs were very familiar like running into an old friend. Crowded House was always there.

Actually, I’m quite grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to reconnect with Crowded House now and intend to buy their CD. Well, at least a CD. No doubt, they’ve put out more than one. It will be joining me in the car. I do a lot of driving!

So, having confessed that I’m anything but a Crowded House expert, I’m obviously breaking the most fundamental rule of writing… writing about something I know very little about. While I understand that this could be my undoing given there are  obsessive fans who know each and every hair on their heads.

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Tim & Neil Finn

However, there can also be a different kind of story. More of a getting to know you, dipping my little toe into the waters and sharing the journey kind of story. Moreover, while many people would be interested in pulling their music apart , I found myself watching and absorbing the band as people.There was something intangible about each of them which really touched me.  They all came across as really interesting, warm and genuine people with a very strong sense of something like a cross between empathy and compassion. I’d really like to sit on a beach watching the moon rise listening to these guys talk. Not about the band, being in a band or being a star but to hear their philosophical observations of life. I could sense wisdom, which isn’t a trait I usually attribute to band members but it was there. I know it was there.

So I wasn’t really surprised when I came across these quotes from Neil Finn:

“I try to put myself into unusual and difficult situations as often as I can in order to capture the element of struggle in the music.”

-Neil Finn

“So I think rather than being attracted so much now to working with my heroes, I’m sort of more attracted to working with completely unlikely strangers because it’s more exciting really.”

-Neil Finn

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Tim Finn…you could really tell he was having a blast!

There were also some poignant quotes from his older brother, Tim Finn:

“True contentment comes with empathy.”

Tim Finn

“Weave me a rope that will pull me through these impossible times.”

Tim Finn

“I’m a live performer and I love playing live.”

Tim Finn

Anyway, on that note I’ll leave you with a few songs:

 

Enjoy!

Crowded House: Don’t Dream It’s Over.

Do you have a favourite Crowded House song? What is it?
I find it hard to pick out of these three.
xx Rowena
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The End.