I am sitting here in my lounge-room listening, like much of Australia, to the number one album in Triple J’s Hottest 100 Australian albums of all time, Odyssey Number Five. When they announced it, I rolled my eyes, thinking “How predictable”. I have to admit, I was still sllliiiggghhhtttly cut that most of my top ten didn’t make the list at all, and my number one (Two Shoes by The Cat Empire) only just scraped in at Number 100.
The feminist in me was also a bit snarky at the very testosteroney list (where the flub was Clare Bowditch for pity’s sake???). But then, as soon as the album started …. ohhhh …
All my Snarks scuttled away to the Snarky cave and were replaced by bright, shiny Joys as I was transported back to when I first heard and fell in love with this album.
I was eighteen. I had just moved to Launceston to study performing arts, leaving behind my home on the North West Coast, many of my friends and my steady boyfriend. It was a really scary time. I was a small town girl, living in (what I perceived at the time to be) a very big, very cold and very lonely city. My course was full of Big Personalities, and I was a shy, nerdy little mouse of a person. They were all living the wild, crazy Uni life. All I wanted to do was go back to Wynyard and my job at (what was then) Roelf Vos supermarket and slumber parties at Rachel’s house with Chloe and Mellie and Shel and Roz. I wanted to go to Praties with my boyfriend and drive down to the beach and eat tea while the seagulls flocked around, begging for scraps.
I wasn’t cut out for the flamboyant life of a performing arts student. I just wanted to go home.
I used to listen to Odyssey Number Five on my Sony Discman (showing my age here) walking down to the Inveresk Academy of the Arts, fighting the terror that I would always feel before every day at Uni. I was so scared of the other students, who seemed so much more mature and cool and talented than I was. For some reason, the album spoke to me and gave me comfort. These Days seemed to be singing about exactly how I felt. My life wasn’t turning out how I’d planned. I thought I’d love Uni. I despised it. Uni wasn’t My Kind of Scene at all!
I also used to listen to the album when I was waiting for my boyfriend to arrive. He’d drive up to see me most weekends. I used to listen to My Happiness, counting down the minutes before my own happiness arrived. My boyfriend was my connection to the world I wanted to still be a part of. When he was there, I felt less homesick. I felt like I wasn’t the freak that was completely out of place in this new place.
Listening to Odyssey Number Five now, all those old feelings are coming back, but it’s not making me sad. It’s making me proud of how far I’ve come. Today, I had a spontaneous catch-up with two lovely people from my Uni course, Kendan and Jess. We reminisced about Uni days, and I was able to do so without getting that familiar pang of terror. We also talked about our lives now. They have just had a baby. I’m loving my new life as a writer. These days, my life is pretty cool. And I’m able to listen to this album with a smile on my face. I’m glad Australia voted this album number one. It might be predictable but, you know? Some albums are popular because they’re just so bloody good. This album is one of those.
But, you know what, so is Two Shoes.
And, after they’ve finished playing Odyssey Number Five on Triple J, I’m going to whack that album on.
Because, while Odyssey Number Five sings that “these days turned out nothing like I had planned”, Two Shoes sings, “It’s days like these that make us happy” and, right now, that’s how I feel.