I am currently bathing in the specific type of nostalgia that comes with being ten days out of relocating (again). I am rolling around in the suds of sentimentality, egged on by the knowledge the house I grew up will likely not be ours when I am next upon Sydney’s shores, a recent birthday that marked the ten year anniversary for my university friends (”it is ten years to this month that we saw you fall down the stairs in Mac theatre!”) and this feeling, this current, overwhelming connection to the passing of time. There is a lot of blowing dust off old jewellery boxes and rediscovering what has garnished my person and surrounds over the years gone by (most of it aesthetically questionable). There is plenty of fossicking about in crammed-full wardrobes and realising I have had this weird habit of buying two or three of things for a long time. Packing can actually be quite confronting; the extended sift through life and the need to decide what is worth putting into a box and lugging onwards and upwards and what must be consigned to anonymity, dropped into that vast well of space reserved for slankets and Paris Hilton perfume. In doing so, in sifting and stacking and culling and packing, life rears its enormous, lengthy head in old photos and awful dresses and chipped objects that once meant something but have since lost all of their shine and all of their sentimentality because they couldn’t keep up with the years’ cracking pace. Nostalgia and sentimentality permeate the air like some sort of nerve gas and suddenly you feel like you’re playing out a scene in Now and Then. No, wait, you are playing out a scene in Now and Then.
Except Now and Then had a better soundtrack. The soundtrack to my life is an homage to a period of time where singles cost $6 (of which I amassed an enormous collection) and Jewel forayed into poetry. With clothes, shoes and jewellery sifted and culled, my CD collection was the last box that needed the dust blown off, consigned, as it has been for so long, to a shelf of irrelevance in a cupboard along with someone’s cricket pads. The CD, like all sorts of technology before it, is on the way out. Just saying ‘CD collection’ makes me feel like I’m 100 and some kid born in 2005 is smirking at me judgmentally Like books, a person’s music collection reveals a telling amount. So telling, there are people who define themselves almost solely by their playlists, people who cultivate hours of music in an effort to reflect precisely what personality traits they want to be seen as possessing. I used to be one of those people until Spotify revealed my Dolly Parton penchant to all and sundry who ‘follow’ me (I am still not entirely sure I understand how Spotify works, I just want to play music, not socialise while doing so). But music doesn’t just reflect our most coveted personality traits, it writes our autobiography. In those boxes of cracked plastic squares and questionable cover art, is the soundtrack to my life thus far. One big, swirling, swooping, angsty, saccharine, tragic compilation. It’s eclectic. It covers a range of genres. It is, in many cases, mortifying. Just like, you know, life.
Let me throw some titles at you: Sabrina the Teenage Witch Soundtrack (bet you didn’t know there was one); Anatasia, Not That Kind of Girl (signed); Spice Girls, Spice and Spice World; Alanis Morrisette, Jagged Little Pill (my first CD); Vanessa Amorosi, Have a Look (single); Eternal, The Best Of; All Saints, Pure Shores (single): Bijou Phillips, When I Hated Him (who is Bijou Phillips?); Billie Piper, Walk of Life; Dawson’s Creek soundtrack (a 90s classic); S.O.A.P, This is How We Party; numerous Jewel albums; most of Mariah; Creed (I had a Sanity gift card); Stars on 54, If You Could Read My Mind. I mean, wow. Let’s not delve any further. I know the 90s are pretty hip right now, the latest decade to go under the lacquer of high gloss irony, but I feel Creed and Bijou are probably fine with irrelevance.
I’ve kept a handful, though, the classics – the Spice Girls, Alanis, every album Hanson has ever made. My children are going to need to listen to my soundtrack, going to need to hear about and see how we listened to music back in my day. Mum and Dad kept their records and I’ll keep my CDs.
There are some soundtracks worth playing again.