Love Letter To A Record: Ali Barter On The ‘Stealing Beauty’ Soundtrack

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

Ali Barter: The ‘Stealing Beauty’ Soundtrack

Dear Stealing Beauty Soundtrack,

You were there before boys, before drinking, before parties and before first kisses. You were there, at the age of 14, when I was on the cusp of teenagedom — somewhere between childhood and adulthood — when I was about to cross over into a world I didn’t know about, but was starting to get an inkling of.

You came with me whilst walking to friends’ houses; you came with me in the summertime, when we started to lock eyes with boys on the tram; you came with me when we were testing our limits; when we first felt that magnetic pull (because we were girls, and yet we realised we were becoming women); you came with me when we would see how late we could stay out; and you came with me when we learnt how to flirt with boys.

You were like that Portishead song, a little bit dark but still drawing us in. And when Courtney Love sang “we even fucked the same”, I kind of knew what she meant (but not really).

You were my innocence lost. The last summer before I went from timid school girl to fully-blown teenager who ‘knew it all’.

When Billie Holiday and Nina Simone sang, you made me feel sophisticated, grown up. As though I was hanging out at art galleries and restaurants. When Mazzy Star and Cocteau Twins sang, it was staying up a little later, in the backyard on a hot night or in a bedroom during a party at someone’s house (when their parents were out of town).

Sam Phillips came with me on the train. Acoustic guitars and lifting melodies took me from Caulfield to South Yarra on a Tuesday afternoon on the school holidays. My first years of freedom.

Liz Phair spoke of that new territory; boys, and her frustrations. Frustrations I was dying to have. The boyfriends I would love and leave and be heartbroken by along the way.

You were the summer before it all began. You were my first love, and my first cigarette. I got drunk to you, I cried to you, and I raged at my parents with you.

Before I could drive or buy alcohol, you were my car, my booze, my boyfriend. I’ll never forget you. Like an entry in my diary, all those feelings are locked up in you. Waiting for summer to come around again.

Ali Barter heads out on her biggest national tour to date later this month, and will also perform at Yours & Owls Festival, Vanfest and Darwin Festival later this year.

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