I’m one of six students crammed into my friend’s university campus room a few doors up from mine. Eighteen students reside on our floor and in only a few weeks since starting Uni, Anna’s room has become the communal place for us to hang-out. My portable CD player drops out of my bag, blaring Kylie Minogue. Not one of her well-known hits, but a rarely heard B-side track. Four of the people make groaning sounds and laugh at my choice of music. I casually dismiss the mocking while one girl, Lisa, looks at me silently as I stop the music and put the player back in my bag.
It’s 1995 and this is the moment my best friend, Lisa, began to like me. Her affections came out of sympathy and awe; liking Kylie in Australia at that time was social suicide, and I didn’t bat an eyelid at everyone hearing that I was listening to the Aussie Pop Princess. She felt sorry for me that I’d just lost social standing and was taken aback that I wasn’t even slightly embarrassed. Our friendship remains strong to this day.
For decades my unashamed love of music that I’m berated for enjoying has contributed to me forming strong bonds. Last year I clapped with excitement when I heard the introductory music of Miley Cyrus’s “Hoedown Throwdown” at a Step class and a fellow Stepper rolled her eyes at me. Within thirty seconds of obeying Miley’s instructions to, “zig-zag across the floor, shuffle in diagonal” she turned to me smiling and gave me a thumbs-up. We’ve been great friends ever since. I gave her the hoedown and she taught me the lasso move – both now staples of our choreography.
More recently, music has helped me establish a connection with my nieces who beg to listen to my “music-phone”. I have playlists that don’t need to be altered for children – much of my taste is directly designed for eight-year-old girls. Nashville pop, High School Musical and Glee all fluttered their eyelashes at me and I passionately embraced their melodic wiles.
Of course, music has also created relationship rifts for me. One boyfriend wouldn’t permit me to play music and is now an ex-boyfriend: A house without music could never be my home.
Sometimes people are stubbornly attached to an image associated with a particular style of music; they may dress in a way they think reflects their musical taste, assume they know another person’s taste by the way they look, or infer a person’s values from the music they like. This image attachment can suffocate their natural pleasure. At a BBQ in Sydney on Saturday I journeyed with three new acquaintances to purchase alcohol. In the huge Liquorland a familiar song came on the radio and I clapped with elation. My companions similarly responded and loudly sang along to the energetic lyrics: “Every single time I see you, I start to feel this way. Makes me wonder if I’m ever gonna feel this way again”. I smiled, “How can you not like Hanson?” Horrified, they immediately stopped singing. It was disappointing that they’d been happy until they realised the identity of the performer. In just minutes we’d changed from a cheerful posse to a somber group of people trying far too hard to look cool; this, to me, is embarrassing. With Hanson’s lively chorus continuing on in my head, I knew these acquaintances wouldn’t become friends.
Music makes me happy and I will bounce along as blissfully to Katy Perry as I will to my niece’s version of Puff the Magic Dragon until the day I die. People will continue to make fun of me, but occasionally it’ll help me form some lasting relationships and it will always make me happy. Music, blessed music.