Love Letter to a Record: Fountaineer’s Tony White On Badly Drawn Boy’s ‘The Hour of Bewilderbeast’

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.

Tony White, Fountaineer: Badly Drawn Boy – ‘The Hour of Bewilderbeast’

Dear Bewilderbeast,

It was either the day before Luke Rodda fell off a horse during a warm November arvo of underage beers or the day after. Your cinematic horns and strings wafted through the speakers in our lounge room, the radio tuned to triple j. You were Beatles-esque, but so much more intimate, so much more magical, definitely more sad. I kept that scribbled note “The Shining/Badly Drawn Boy” in my wallet for the next few months, until I’d finally moved to Melbourne for uni, had a few minutes and a few dollars to spare at a shopping centre, and found you sheepishly hiding behind a queue of “Bad…” bands, shy and unassuming as always.

You were full of ideas. Your guitar playing and singing were so imperfect, so real and beautiful. You were like a brilliant discarded novel scribbled in almost-illegible handwriting. We took the shortcut through the golf course together, and you whispered your melodies through the shitty CD player I got from Big W while I tried to cook home-made chicken parmas; the soundtrack to my first foray into living away from home. You lived in the front pocket of my backpack on those anxious V-Line journeys back home. I wasn’t sure how others would take you, so our relationship was closed and faithful, neither of us comfortable in big groups.

I guessed it was time to meet the family. You and my brother really hit it off; almost too well. Us three became a love triangle of sorts, a gang of incurable romantic youths who still to this day cherish the time we all spend together. You introduced us to your good pal Springsteen, who would shape our world in boundless ways. You felt like one of us. You were just an ordinary bloke, with a head swimming with 8mm visions and a heart grappling with the heaviness of it all. Through bewildering stories titled ‘Disillusion’, ’Magic In The Air’, ‘Pissing In The Wind’, ‘Blistered Heart’, ‘Once Around The Block’, you laid down the real and the imagined side by side; you were unlike anyone else we’d ever met.

People said you reminded them of Beck or Elliott Smith (what company to be in, eh?!), yet your imagination is what set you apart. You won a pretty big trophy for your collection of mumbled musings, but we didn’t care about that (and neither did you). You were fertilizer for our fledgling and confused hearts, which yearned for love, like grass sun-kissed and beaten by the weather.

The big city dream didn’t last and we were back in Bendigo before too long. But your words and your story kept the campfire glowing for all those years. In a town where life can become defined by its limitations and boundaries, your eclectic indie/folk/pop/rock conversations, footnoted by absolute artistic integrity, were the evidence of beauty we so often craved – and you continue to remind us of the magic (so often dormant) that exists in us all.

With love,

Anthony White


P.S. thank you again for playing at my wedding (I’m sure you’ll get the call up for my funeral as well).

Fountaineer will be taking their latest album ‘Greater City, Greater Love’ on a headline tour this November with shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Wollongong and Brisbane. Head here for tickets and details. In the meantime, you can find them at shows across the country supporting Gang Of Youths.

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