Perth, Western Australia
They were still hippies when they met in the early 1980s. She denied it to me whenever I asked, saying it was a phase, but he wore it like a badge of honour until the day he died. Our house was full of music when I was growing up, he was an avid record collector, nay an obsessive. At first she’d liked the fact, his love of music and the whole package that went with it: his rambling man ways, his love of adventure, spirituality, his outlandish fashion sense. But over the years she started to deem it childish and was waiting for him to outgrow his passion. This pushed him further into his obsession, in the end it drove a wedge between them.
But Creedence Clearwater Revival, or CCR as they are affectionately known, had some magical effect on them. On us. On the whole household. On weekends in the 1990s, I would put the “best of” record on the $8000 stereo my dad had bought. When Born On The Bayou came on he would dance awkwardly in his camo shorts and Greenpeace t-shirt, his pony-tailed hair swinging to the beat. She would sing the choruses, with her high pitched, almost operatic voice. She was far from note perfect but there was joy when she sang – a joy that had left her many years prior. In those moments while singing slightly out of key, holding onto the word “bayouoooo” for all she was worth, she seemed free and relaxed, shedding her rigid outer-shell.
Occasionally their eyes would meet and it would be magic. I would watch and pretend to pick those opening guitar lines with my air guitar, wondering what a bayou was. I don’t think either of them knew. CCR had long since cracked the mainstream – their songs of Americana, folklore and war couldn’t be further from our suburban existence in Perth, Western Australia. But everyone knew CCR, no doubt there were people howling the lyrics all over the world, no clue what a bayou was.
Romantic glances were exchanged, embarrassing dance moves produced, high notes aimed for but never hit. For those few minutes they were young and free, the shackles of a decaying marriage no longer dragging them down. I’d watch on, oblivious until many years later that these were some of the only moments I would see their love tangible, in action and immortalised. An insight, a revelation that they had at some point loved each other. I saw the flame, if only it burnt for a few minutes each time Born On the Bayou played.
Stereo Story #533