Day 8 - 1984
Purple Rain - Prince
Although I was born in 1970, I feel like a big part of me, of who I am today, wasn't born until 1984.
I was 14 years old. I felt awkward. I was a late bloomer. Most of the boys in my year at high school were all born in 69 and had hit their growth spurts.
I felt embarrassed and boyish in comparison.
My older brother was a local legend, who seemed to have it all, good looks, a muscular lean physique, confidence, intelligence and charisma.
I felt completely dwarfed by the comparison.
I could never live up to his greatness and scampered around for crumbs in his shadow.
I didn't know it at the time, but I was desperately seeking a point of difference by which I could identify myself with.
My brother had always encouraged me, my whole family had.
My Pa, on my Mum's side was also an incredibly charismatic, charming and successful man.
He would always send you off after a visit with a little joke.
"Did I ever tell you the one about? ......." and off he'd go with one of his funny stories or jokes.
We all looked up to him and loved him very much.
I showed interest in learning jokes and mum bought me a joke book for my birthday; and so after Pa would tell his joke, I'd tell him one back.
"Ha, good one Pa, did I ever tell you the one about?...." and off I'd go.
My brother thought I was a funny kid and would get me to tell jokes to his friends.
"Go on Andy tell them the one about...."
And off I'd go.
I didn't fit into the school system.
My home life was quite unique and very colourful.
School was boring in comparison and home work was impossible amidst the ups and downs of Party's and Drama that was my ordinary world.
Mum was working as a 'Promotions lady' at a local nightclub and would often bring home all kinds of colourful types once the club had closed.
It was like waking up into Alice in Wonderland, when the noise stirred you from your dreams and you'd wander out into their party.
There were cops and crooks and everything in between, all laughing and drinking and sharing and comparing stories together.
It was a community of misfits, broken hearts and deep souls who'd lived big life stories.
In hindsight I feel so lucky to have been privy to so many amazing stories at such a young age.
One man, 'Dieter' who was a german architect, spoke to me, or rather breathed on me with his whiskey and cigarette breath, "Your mum told me you are a reader? You must read Nineteen Eighty-Four! You must read Nineteen Eighty-Four!"
The mix of intensity with which he spoke, his drunkard slur and the spit of his enthusiasm was overwhelming to say the least.
I went back to bed, thinking to myself that alcohol really makes people kind of stupid.
Then the following day Dieter turned back up at the front door and apologised for his drunkardness of the previous night and gifted me that amazing George Orwell book.
That book blew my mind!!!
I wasn't really much of a reader before that, but afterwards I became insatiable.
The Aussie Ballet came by our school to do a little performance and needed a volunteer.
Being that I never did any homework, I'd reverted to becoming the class clown to deflect the heat a little.
A couple of my friends pushed me forward as the volunteer. I got up and did my first ever improvised acting.
I got a few laughs and experienced some kind of magical transformation, it was like entering a dream state or something, everything sparkled and the nerves gave you something extra to work with.
I was called to the office later that day and my first thought was, "Oh great, I'm in trouble again", but to my surprise the drama teacher was waiting.
"I saw you today in the ballet and was really impressed" she said, "I'd love you to be a part of this years High School Musical".
It was life changing. I walked around the school with a new found confidence. Some of the kids, joked and asked if I were " going to be on Neighbours?"
I was already writing poetry and a friend introduced me to his mate Rohan Gunstone aka Bang Mango Cools who had started his own band and was looking for a singer.
Mango is a pretty cool cat and I felt a bit intimidated but sang him the lines to a few of my poems.
He invited me along to the next rehearsal and 'Audio Hangover' which later became 'Vanity Plastic' was born.
I'd loved Prince's songs, '1999' and 'Little Red Corvette' and so when his film 'Purple Rain' was released I absolutely had to go along.
We went as a group. There was probably 8 or 10 of us that night that made the long trek from Viewbank, through Yallambie and onto the Greensboro cinema, picking up and dropping off walkers along the way.
I had my sights set on a certain young lady that I manoeuvred myself into the seat next to, hoping I might get a kiss, or a pash as we called it back then.
The movie came on and I was so enthralled.
The power of the music and the story brought me to tears.
I cried a number of times, and that wasn't cool back then, all my mates were footy heads, we were always trying to one up each other in terms of what we perceived as masculinity, so crying was just perceived as weakness.
Luckily for me the cinema was dark. I slid down into my seat to hide the water bursting from my cheeks.
Something in the story, really effected me there's no doubt; the fights between the mum and dad and Prince's love story were both full and overflowing with emotion, but the music- oh my the music - the passion and sincerity in Prince's guitar playing and voice, they just cut me to the very core.
His songwriting, the arrangements, the production, the absolute musical genius of this man and then his performance, his style, the mystique and the myth.
A true artist.
He was Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Sly Stone, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart all rolled into one for me.
A true star beyond the reach of mere mortals such as myself, but he gave the gift of feeling and dreaming to us all.
From 'Controversy' to 'around the world in a day' to 'Sign of the times' to 'Diamonds and Pearls' , 'Emancipation', 'The rainbow children' on and on - every single album, absolute genius on one level or another and his production is just so prolific, there's still probably 10 albums I'm yet to even investigate.
I saw him twice in concert - what a showman!
A multi-instrumentalist, a producer - the guy is in a league of his own.
Prince has set the bar so high it could be confused as a constellation or even a group of constellations flickering in the night sky.
I never got to kiss the girl that night, but reflecting back now I see that the seed was planted for me to produce my first feature length music film, which I'm excited to say is now in the very final stages of post production with a whole new double album's worth of tracks.
Thank you Prince, thanks for the inspiration. What's that saying, "shoot for the stars and you may just make the moon" - to see the earth from outside is to put one's whole existence into perspective. I live with the wonder.
From 'Purple Rain', this was the first song that made me cry, though definitely not the last.