I have a secret to share and it’s (probably not) going to change the way you think of me: I love power ballads and over-the-top, emotionally-charged anthems! Yes, the kind of music that employs clanging power chords, crashing cymbals, slow build-up and bombastic release which is engineered (mostly intentionally) to get your heart and hands pumping and your emotions boiling in ecstasy and joy, or rage and sadness. I was surrounded by a lot of classic rock and pop as a youngster with my parent’s record collection influencing our very tiny sphere of the known world. Australian anthems by bands such as Cold Chisel and Crowded House or the perfect pop of Abba and Whitney Houston were recreated endlessly on the karaoke machine at BBQ’s and New Year’s parties with that euphoric sensation fuelling many a rowdy singalong. I loved the way those song propelled towards an explosion that left you gloriously devastated by their simplicity and universality. I think everyone understands that sentiment and has felt connected to humanity at some point throughout the refrain of ‘Hey Jude’ or in that guitar intro to ‘Sweet Child of Mine’. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of car trips to Brisbane listening to compilations of the 70s and 80s and singing at the top of our lungs every single part of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’!
As I grew into my own musical identity as a teenager/young adult I discovered that guitars could be manipulated and distorted even further than the tones of my childhood and the emotions in those songs ramped up to the extreme. Punk music of all descriptions became my own playground whether that be the ’77 generation such as the Clash or the Sex Pistols, ’80s college rock like the Replacements and the Pixies, Green Day and Blink 182 in the pop-punk scene, the genius and fallibility of Weezer, the angst of grunge, Britpop’s jovialness and outlook on life(I worship at the musical altar of Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon so take a guess who I sided with), or the low-fi, DIY ethic of emo bands. However, I say with absolutely no shame whatsoever that my gateway to this music (and I would find it pretty hard to classify myself as an actual ‘Punk’ in the fairly fortunate world I inhabit) was the overly produced, prettily packaged, flawed mid-00s emo-pop music of Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. I realise all the shortcomings of this brand of music and it’s overt following of commercialism and trends but I owe a lot to Fall Out Boy’s much maligned and secretly amazing ‘Folie a Deux’ and the way it opened the door to many different influences. The first song off that album, ‘Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes’, connected my love of bombastic anthems to a more contemporary mindset. My sister and I used to play that song to death as we drove across our city to school and work. It was amazing how a disposable part of pop culture could connect us though our age and experiences that were in no way aligned apart from our blood. Yes, I know that the emotions of the song were probably arranged in such a way that a reaction like ours was guaranteed but it takes a surer person than me to fend off that pull especially as a very young and undeveloped adult in their late teens.
The various forms of punk music have never left me as I have matured and I am still passionately interested in modern bands such as the Wonder Years, Modern Baseball, the Smith Street Band, Joyce Manor and Jeff Rosentock but with my own song-writing I’ve played more to the folk, acoustic side of music. A part of this is because my electric guitar ability is pretty limited but mainly it’s simply the fact that I don’t inhibit the same angst and fears as my younger self. I’m a bit more contemplative and measured in the doling out of my emotions. It is also easier to fall into the singer/songwriter tropes when you aren’t playing in a band and accessing the dynamics that are realised with fellow musicians and human beings. It’s hard to rock out with an acoustic! Software such as Garage Band and Pro Tools have been an immense help in creating other textures and beats within my song-writing and I’ve also come to appreciate music has a whole in all of it’s genres and styles. Long gone are the days when I was a guitar-only elitist prowling the ‘Ultimate Guitar’ message boards.
Early last year I was really starting to feel like I was stuck in a rut when it came to my music making and the form I was choosing to express myself. My songs were coming out in slower tempos and the emotions were all fairly formulaic. The whole process was still therapeutic and enthralling but it felt like something was missing. Then one day walking through the park near my wife’s work I stumbled onto a melody. My work circumstances had changed recently and I was now operating in a more freelance capacity. This allowed me to become a house husband of sorts and support our little family unit in ways that were completely new. Up to this point we had both worked full-time hours in offices and though we shared all the housework and cooking my role was very much defined as an assistant who excelled at vacuuming and washing up. There was a definitive shift in my responsibilities as I took on more to support my partner’s increased role at her new job. This experience is the exact kind of thing I was bound to write about; after all I did write a song about gardening! It’s probably not something that is particularly interesting in the universal sense but then again I think everyone is bound to transition into more adult responsibilities where your inner thoughts deal with stuff like the laundry or dinner for that evening instead of loneliness, partying and growing up that occupy your younger self (not that those things ever leave you for too long).
So, after talking in depth about my love of power ballads I feel as if this offering is not even close to that style! There is a germ of those power pop offerings that enthral me and I also see this song sitting at the end of my imaginary concept album (ssh stop telling them you’re a dreamer – Ed.). Like most songs that I write what turns out on the page is vastly different to what is in my mind. I must say that writing this song was a great joy and I even shocked myself with the line about paying bills and making tea. Maybe one day I’ll become a proper musician and you will see this song at the end of a concept album about how I became an adult!
Thank you so much for yet again revisiting my page, it is so nice to look at the stats and noticing that someone has checked out the page. Please don’t be scared to get in touch if you feel like you’ve got something to share whether that be musical or in a lyrical sense. I’d to collaborate if that is what you are looking for as well, otherwise just sharing with someone can be an amazing experience no matter how daunting! Hope to talk soon CB
1. We’re not the same to back when we started;
The weather’s changed and the ice has melted.
The heat is on, we’ve left the heater on.
2 You’re mind is strong and mine’s battered, broken;
My lethargy cannot be woken.
My knees are gone, I think my drive is gone.
Bm G Bm A
B. I feel the thrill inside of me when you lay your head next to mine.
Bm G Bm A
I love your boundless energy when you strive and strive and strive.
Bm G Bm A
And though I’m failing everyday, you see my highest highs.
Bm G A
We want the best for each other: Our love is no disguise.
3. We look so young in these photographs.
The pretty, blank stares and carelessness.
I love your style. I still love your style.
4. My tattered, black jeans and your heavy eyes.
Our barely laid plans and precious time.
We were having fun. Are we still having fun?
C. I will follow you anywhere, be a prince for you anywhere.
Reflect the heat off your summer’s air until we can’t go on.
I’ll take a load of your misery. Pay the water and electricity.
Give you tea and stability when you get in late.
I will follow you anywhere. (ad-lib over chord progression)
5. This youthful strain that I’ve been chasing;
The many hours that I’ve spent wasting
has left me old. I’ve let myself get old.
6. And looking back at the mistakes we’ve made,
the lessons learnt and advice we gave.
I want our love to work. We’ll change the way we work.