Saturday, 22 May 2010

Pretty Fly (For a White Girl)

My obsession with punk music started with a double tape best of The Clash. It was red, with each cover having a black and white photo of one of the band on it. I listened to it continuously; in the car, in my bedroom, on my walkman. Wherever I went, you could guarantee I had it with me. I was about 11.

For my sister, it began with Americana, the 5th album from the Offspring, released in 1998. I was too caught up under the Westway to even remember how she came across the album. I’m not sure she even knows. All I know is that within a year, it had become a family staple.

It may not surprise you to find out that my family has incredibly bizarre choices of playlist for what may be considered run of the mill family situations. I’ll give you such an example: we usually spend Christmas with my mum’s side of the family, which really warrants a post of its own, however on occasion, we celebrate the birth of pointless consumerism with my Dad’s siblings. That’s when we tone it down and stick to reggae.

So there are certain albums which frame my childhood. Ones which I only have to hear the opening bars of before I’m transported back to being three kids squashed in the back of a car, singing all the words at the top of our voices. That too warrants a post of its own.

But Americana became one of those, and was subsequently usurped by the far superior Smash. By this point the entire family was hooked.

The only reservation any one of my family came from my mum, who thought my siblings’ exposure to some of the language slightly too much. So she tried to minimise the exposure.

But in reality, her efforts acted to highlight the very thing she was trying to avoid. Those of you familiar with the work of Dexter, Noodles et al (coincidentally the names of two of my brother’s gerbils), will know the part of Bad Habit I’m about to relate to. The particularly abusive, sweary, shouty bit in the middle. The bit that still tickles the 13 year old anarchist inside of me.

Mum used to turn the volume down to avoid a particular phrase, and attempt to turn it back up after that passage was over. But the timing was never right, and on each occasion without fail, she’d turn it up for us to joyfully join in with the last line. Even now I can’t hear it without gleefully shouting “stupid dumbshit goddamn motherfucker”, with a 13 year old’s grin on my face. It never gets old.

Tonight I discovered Spotify and as such, have been listening to a lot of the old family staples.  I’m sure there will be more on this theme to come, but for the meantime, join in with me on a chorus - ‘so live like there’s no tomorrow…’

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