There’s so much that could, and has already, been said about the place music holds within society that it feels ridiculous to even attempt it myself.
… but, you see, there’s this little, unknown band called Pearl Jam, who, for the past twenty years, have been some of the only witnesses to the person inside me. They’re the ones who get to see the ugly crying – the kind where snot drips down your red, splotchy face, and you sound like Claire Danes in Romeo & Juliet. That one. Like, a honk.
They’ve seen me at my most broken and confused, on the nights where I’ve been left alone with the bottle for far longer than is safe for me, and I spin through moments of clarity and confusion, before calling in to visit irrational anger on my way to blackout bedtime.
They’ve seen me on those depressed days, when Sid was away, staring at walls in the same pyjamas I’ve worn for the past 2, unshowered days, avoiding mirrors or shiny surfaces just as I avoided food, and people.
But the best times they’ve seen me were when I was that long, blonde-haired 14 year old, all braces and lip gloss, hanging out on Spam’s farm, drinking passion pop, smoking cigarettes and singing, while we drove around the paddocks at a hundred mile an hour in that beat up old car.
Life was a sweet place back then. It was unmarred, sunny, the air around me felt filled with promise. I was beginning to find a place, with people who felt soft – their edges weren’t all sharp and smashy when they spoke to me. This was a new and delicious thing, for me.
These days, when I listen to Pearl Jam, it’s with the Friendship Family; those people you spend all your non-work time with. Mine happens to include my real life little brother, as it did when I was 15 and I was dressing him like a goth and painting his fingernails, and dad was like “Stop it! He’s a boy! And also, 5!”
I don’t do that to him now. My sister does still tell him what to wear, though.
The point is, Pearl Jam has been an active part of my life longer than anyone besides my blood relatives. They’ve been such a large part of my life that through forcing my family to listen to “Triple J Vol. 3 – 21” of my radio-tapes whenever we went on family road trips, I inadvertently turned my entire family into Pearl Jam fans.
That band is part of who we are, and now, all of us being adults, we take our family trips again and very little has changed. Nowadays, us kids are a little more mindful of what we force the parents to put up with. Mum’s fine – she has excellent music taste. Dad is just an angry little hobbit man who wants to listen to the races and has a terrible habit of losing his temper at whichever inanimate object he just tried to control, but failed to do so.
His eyebrows are the best thing in my world. My mother hates them with the fire of a thousand suns, but for me, they make my heart warm every time I see them. He’s like an owl. His eyebrows are majestically wizard-like, and when he’s thinking, he tends to twist them, like some men do with their fancy-moustaches.
They then resemble small, grey devil horns on his temples.
Making him scared-angry is our favourite pastime. It’s where we make a mix-cd of chilled out songs, and then, when he’s all tapping his foot out of time, smiling away like a dickhead, BAM! Death metal.
He jumps, comically, and roars his angry-koala swear-a-thon (seriously, my dad is Don Vito), whilst grappling for the controls and inadvertently turning the volume up, instead of down.
It feels nice to make mum laugh.
So, for those who wish to play along at home, if you could identify them, who is the band/artist/whatever that you have spent the most time with in your lifetime, and what are some of your favourite/funniest memories?