Moggs Creek, Australia; 1983 to 2013
The beach-house record collection, like the beach-house itself, is virtually a museum. The records are of a vintage that matches the family photos, the well-worn furniture (including Dad’s brown Jason Recliner), the faded curtains, the rusty bikes, the board games.
Playing old records is a sentimental journey with unanswered questions. Did Mum swoon over Frank Sinatra? Did my parents see jazz and swing bands in their younger years? Did they sing and dance around a family piano? Did they think rock’n’roll was a post-war cultural revolution or just that stuff on another radio station, one that didn’t broadcast the races or the trots?
While my siblings and my sister-in-law tell me stories about their records I know I can’t know all the circumstances of who bought what record, and why and where. Some quests are best left unfinished, some mysteries best left unsolved. (I do know now, though, that Peter bought the Felicity Kendal exercise record from an opp-shop in Barwon Heads over ten years ago. ‘Might have been part of an early mid-life crisis.’)
My children and my younger brother’s children will eventually inherit the beach-house. They enjoy playing the Dylan and Go Betweens and Paul Kelly albums, the Herb Albert and Dudley Moore Trio records, the Santana and Muddy Waters records.
Will they be playing the records in 20, 30 or even 40 years’ time?
After I’ve heard my last song and breathed my last breath, will my children throw out all the records, just as I cleaned out all the junk under the beach-house after Dad died? Just as I gave Mum and Dad’s 40 year old books to an Anglesea opp-shop?
Or will another bushfire burn down the house and all the music that it holds?
Lately my children have been buying their own vinyl and playing them on the stereo at our home in Melbourne: Radiohead, Tame Impala, Cloud Control, Iron and Wine, Atoms for Peace, Kanye West, Sufjan Stevens, Beaches…Maybe one day these will be part of the Moggs Creek collection. Maybe one day one of my children, visiting with their children, will write in the diary: ‘Franz Ferdinand, Big Scary, Animal Collective, The Riptide by Beirut, Eternal Sphere by Beaches, Devotion by Beach House…’
Some Moggs Creek visitors, either deliberately or absent-mindedly, leave the last record they have played for the weekend on the turntable. It was Dionne Warwick when we arrived once and Herb Albert when we left. I like the sense of continuity offered in this gesture. The next visitor can pick up the needle, blow off the dust and play that record if they wish. And then make their own selections as they listen to various sides of the family history.
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).