A Musical Tradition (Or Katie Gets Very Spoiled)

My dad and I have this tradition; one many other people think is a bit weird. Every year, at about the start of June, I submit to my dad “Katie’s wishlist”. It is a list of every single CD I’m currently coveting. Sometimes this list can be ten items long; other times it can run into the twenties or thirties. From this list, my dad picks a few CDs, and usually adds a couple of burned CDs from his own collection. It’s a brilliant tradition, I reckon. It means I get to own music I’m really longing for, and which I would ordinarily be too impoverished to buy for myself, but the “system” means I am always surprised by which CDs Dad actually buys me. Genius!

My parents have always been huge influences on my musical taste. I get my folk/country/good-old-rock-and-roll predilection from my dad. He raised me on a steady diet of country greats like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Buffett and Graeme Connors. It was also Dad who introduced me to Josh Pyke, Clare Bowditch and, of course, my favourite singer ever, the incredible Josh Ritter. We also share a love for indigenous artists like Dan Sultan, The Saltwater Band, Archie Roach and Gurrumul. And then there’s the rock. I have vivid memories of days spent listening to Bruce Springsteen (who I knew even as a child was “The Boss”), Dire Straits, Paul Kelly and Crowded House. We love Leonard Cohen, too, even though Dad’s partner, Leigh, teases us, calling it “music to slit your wrists by”. Oh, and then there’s Barnsey. Man did I have a crush, as a twelve-year-old, on sexy, scruffy, gravel-voiced Barnsey. Still do, actually …

My Mum fed the pop-glutton side of my musical appetite. She was heavily into eighties New Romantics and synth pop: Fine Young Cannibals, The Style Council, Manhattan Transfer, Paul Young. Later, we shared a guilty love of The Spice Girls and Robbie Williams. Oh, and then there was Joe. Joe who? Joe Cocker, of course, also known to my mum and me as “God”. We went to see him in Hobart a couple of years ago. Holy mackerel. That guy’s still got it. And then some.

Every year, I think my dad is mostly happy with my CD request list. I know whenever there’s a new Robbie Williams album out he has to grit his teeth: “The Plonker” he calls him. I know he’ll never be a Robbie fan. And, since Husband Bear has introduced me to metal, there have been a few shakes of the head as I’ve requested Korpiklaani, Sonata Arctica or Finntroll. But this year he was especially happy with my list. So much so that he got in big trouble with both his partner and my Lil Bro’s partner, Jess, for listening to the CDs before giving them to me! He’s requested burned copies of most of them. I’ll also be burning a couple for my mum. It’s nice to think I can repay all her musical education of me by introducing her to a couple of new acts. I think she’ll like Seeker Lover Keeper and The Wombats.

So what did I get in my musical haul this year?

Seeker Lover Keeper – Seeker Lover Keeper

The Wombats – This Modern Glitch

Man Man – The Life Fantastic

The Strokes – Angles

Gurrumul – Rrakala

Jebediah – Kosciuzsko

Archie Roach – Best Of

As well as burned copies of a great singer he’s discovered called Teddy Thompson, and the CD I’m listening to right now, by a folk supergroup called The Monsters of Folk.

I know. I was spoiled. But then, I’ve always been spoiled by my parents (and not just with birthday presents). My mum and dad are responsible for my love of art, music, movies and writing. I am so grateful to them for raising me in a family where art, of all kinds, was important. I know I’m lucky to live in a privileged society where indulgences like music and books are part of my world. I know I’m lucky to have been raised in a family where not only did I have a roof over my head, but the walls were lined with art, the shelves were crammed with books and the air was full of music. I want to thank my parents so much for that.

But I do have to warn my dad: Robbie Williams is due to put an album out next year …