Moggs Creek, Australia, 1983 to 2013
THE MORE I look at my list of nine columns the more I realise that none of the records belong to anyone anymore. They belong to the beach-house. They are not mine or my brothers’ or my sisters’ or my parents’. Or my brother’s wife’s.
In her diary entry Rachel’s list of ten is Michael Jackson, The Mamas and The Papas, Astrud Gilberto, Willie Nelson, The Beatles, Kate Bush, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, James Taylor and The Doors. These are the musicians she listened to in the course of a busy holiday with a toddler and a baby one January.
The two Harry Belafonte records were not bought by my younger brother or my parents (as I had assumed) but, Rachel tells me, by her father when he was in Jamaica, cycling for Australia at the 1966 Commonwealth Games.
There are other records Rachel has brought here, including Sigue Sigue Sputnik, which she played on a portable record player at park parties in Melbourne during her uni days, and records by The Screaming Tribesmen that have been autographed by the band’s drummer on its early years, Rachel’s brother. And so the family history, the family soundtrack, expands.
Rachel is not the only person to write about the beach-house records in the Moggs Creek diary, but she is the only person whose diary entry has been solely the list of records she played one weekend.
‘We listened to millions of records,’ wrote my daughter’s boyfriend somewhat enthusiastically, in-between writing about sunburn and snakes and cooking an Italian feast.
‘I loved Michael Nesmith and The First National Band’s Magnetic South album,’ wrote another visitor, in-between talking about day trips and the black trunks of burnt gum trees.
‘What a gem!’ exclaimed another visitor, who then categorised the 25 albums played over the weekend under headings such as ‘dinner music’, ‘disappointments’ and ‘decent Australian jazz’.
What comes through in these comments is the enthusiasm for the format of the music – the vinyl platter, the album cover, the liner notes, the turntable, the needle – as much as the music itself. Younger visitors are taken by the novelty, older visitors by the nostalgia.
Would there be as much enthusiasm if the beach-house music was all on CDs? Or on iPods?
The records themselves are not especially noteworthy. There are no collectables or rare recordings. They are just mainstream records bought by a mainstream middle-class family.
For all its trash and treasure, the beach-house collection is a second draft. A post-Ash Wednesday set of albums. The records that made their way to Moggs Creek between June 1972 and February 16 1983 – and there may have not been many – just melted on that blazing afternoon.
The collection was partly replenished by Dad making a few opp-shop purchases after the bushfire. ‘It would have been when he was buying old furniture for the new house,’ Peter says.
I can picture Dad picking up a box of second-hand records, barely even looking at the album covers, and tucking them under his arm. ‘I’ll have all of these,’ he would have said a touch abruptly, ‘How much do you want for them?’
And into the boot of the Kingswood would go Jimmy Shand, June Bronhill, Mario Lanza, Winifred Atwell. And maybe Felicity Kendal.
I doubt I would play Mario Lanza or June Bronhill at my home in Melbourne but am surprised at how open I am to whatever is played while I’m at the beach-house with my wife and children. In the city I’ll seek out certain CDs or records, even certain single songs, to salve the working day. Here, though, I don’t need to be so particular. Miles Davis? Okay. Willie Nelson? Alright. Astrud Gilberto? Give it a whirl. (‘I think she was the actual Girl From Ipanema,’ says Peter. ‘That gentle bossa-nova stuff was big for a while.’) I can even cope with Mum and Dad’s records, though My Fair Lady and Fiddler On The Roof might send me out to the verandah to feed the rosellas. Or down to the picnic ground.
The albums at the beach-house are not all of the family’s records. My older brother still has much of his vinyl in his home and I occasionally play some of the 200 albums at my place. Neither of my younger siblings have records in their homes. Their musical past is all there at Moggs Creek.
Beach house records was published in the much-loved and now much-missed Great Ocean Quarterly, (volume 1:3, Spring 2014), with accompanying artwork by Peter O’Doherty and Chris O’Doherty (Reg Mombasa).