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.
Alex Gow, Oh Mercy – Dionne Warwick Sings The Bacharach & David Songbook
We met when I was too young to understand your sophistication. An historic beauty has depth. Layers. Fortunately for me the outermost layer was constructed of melodies as catchy as gonorrhoea at an Air BnB granny flat in Byron Bay during Schoolies week.
I was 11. Mum picked you up in a second hand CD shop in St Kilda.
I remember she asked the guy working the till to help her find you.
We took you home and for the next few years you didn’t leave the CD player.
When I was a kid I liked to sing your songs in the shower.
And on the toilet too also.
And while playing junior footy for the St Paul’s Demons – mimicking the muted trumpet solo from ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ as I ran into goal. Add 6 to the Dee’s total.
During the same 12 months in which my energy toward the merino-knit jumpered, high-well fitting ‘bone’ coloured jean wearing (with a light brown belt and probably matching light brown boots) possibly freckled, strawberry blonde haired women from the ’90s ‘Country Road’ catalogue shifted into the Goddess worship territory, I peeled back a layer or two of your onion. Revealing a world of drama and romance. Orchestral swells that lifted me to lofty heights and then promptly called me an Uber back down to a comforting bed of major 7th chords (the Blend 43 of chords). Delish.
Recently a friend told me he reckons the only reason I love you is on account of nostalgia. I had to look up what that meant. It’s a cool word. But not quite, dude. I think he meant excessive exposure at just the right age. Nah no way. Sure, you’re a beautiful association. For example: Mum used to cook stuff in the kitchen in McKinnon while you sauntered through the home. She never sung along, but she sure listened. And I would listen too. Rebuttle – well I had mint sauce literally rammed down my throat in lovely homes by lovely people from the age of 10 and I still think it’s the pits. Example 2: A beautiful and clever woman I once loved, loved you too. We listened to you on the first night we spent together. She sang perfect harmony with you. That was all she wrote. Well that was cool, and I’ll never forget it, but you were part of my biology before she became part of mine.
Dionne, your voice sent and sends chills. You enthral. Entrance. Child-like and as old as time itself. Pathos. Comedy. Romance. Desire. Cop it all sweet. In one three and a half minute song, nonetheless. Thank you.
Hal. How the the Hal did you do it? You said it so right. Economy. Like a summer rose needs the sun and the rain, Burt and Dionne needed your sweet turn of phrase, to create history. And change my life.
Burt, get fucked. You’re the best. It was cool seeing you at the Palace in St Kilda a year or two ago. Mum and I went. I was the youngest there. Mum was the second youngest. Easily. It was cool to hear you play the piano and sing a couple of your classics. You are one million years old. Maybe you are an alien. Like in episodes of Star Trek. That would explain how you wrote ‘Walk On By’ and ‘This Guy’s In Love’. And how you lived to be one million (not out). And how you have a 20 (unconfirmed) year old son.
Also, why didn’t ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ make it onto the CD? That one takes me places.
I love you actively and passively. What a treat that is for me. If I care to, there’s a mountain of your beauty to locate and attempt to understand. If I care not to, I can let you drift into me like a cool breeze through a broken window in the Centrelink office.
I sing along with you. Sometimes in unison, mostly in harmony. And what is more lovely than that?
Once or twice, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve neglected you. Sometimes you failed to evolve with me. I got new clothes. New haircuts. Yet I always returned to you. And when I did, when I do, I find you unchanged. And how I value that. How lucky I am. You are unharmed by time. Timeless. Steadfast, individual and true. What a feat!
Question: Were you singing for our pleasure or for your own? Sometimes I think I can tell, mostly I can’t. Which is more noble of the two, I’m uncertain.
Lastly. Think about a cliff face. The elements sculpt it. It was one thing. Now it is another. When I first heard Dionne Warwick Sings The Bacharach & David Songbook (1999) it was one thing. My affection has slowly but surely eroded your wonder. But, what remains, what time has revealed, is far more lovely than it’s original form. Far more complex and awe-inspiring.
Thanks for sticking around; stick around a little while longer.
Oh Mercy’s highly anticipated fifth studio album ‘Café Oblivion’ is out today and you can grab it here. And don’t forget to catch him live on tour across Australia this April. Dates below.
Oh Mercy – Café Oblivion 2018 Tour Dates
Saturday, 7th April
Amplifier Bar, Perth
Sunday, 8th April
The Newport Hotel, Fremantle
Friday, 13th April
Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney
Saturday, 14th April
Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Friday, 20th April