The family room, Boronia, a Sunday afternoon 2000
Fifteen years old and overflowing with angst and self righteousness. It was a time where no one in the world could possibly have had problems that were more complex than mine, where everyone was wrong and I was right, and where nothing could ever be cool, unless I deemed it to be so.
Like so many teenagers caught between the world of the child and the adult, I was surrounded by adults who constantly played music which I considered to be, among other things: God-awful, daggy, crap, lame, pathetic, tragic (or tragical, as was the phrase at the time), off the reservation, certifiable, ‘so last decade’ (as far as I was concerned, the world didn’t exist before I did) or, if I really wanted to make a point, I would attack the adult and tell them, in such a way as to invite no argument, that they were simply ‘sad.’
It was usually a Sunday afternoon for me, lying on the couch as my mother would run about, cleaning the house, always insisting that, when I decided to buy my own house and clean it, that I could listen to whatever I wanted. I was always fidgeting then, with anything that I could find, even if it was just my own fingers. I constantly wore an expression of eternal dissatisfaction and boredom, and made no secret of how uninterested I was in absolutely everything. All was passé, nothing was worth smiling for, and any song that was made pre-millennium was a pointless waste of time.
I didn’t want to acknowledge a quiet phenomenon which had begun to stir inside my dark, dank, disinterested soul. It had been happening for a while. I had even caught myself a couple of times, instantly looking around the room with razor sharp eyes, ready to slug anyone that caught me. It was beginning to worry me really. What would happen when everyone realised what a fraud I was?
Then it came, Shelter From The Storm by Bob Dylan; a subtle song of seductive poetry. It wasn’t the kind of song that made you want to gyrate, or even the kind that made you want to sway. Rather, it made you let your guard down.
Mum had played it hundreds of times before, much to my chagrin. I had been sure that my fabulous powers of deflection had disallowed any infiltration into my rock-hard shell, constructed from 100 per cent pure coolness, but I was wrong. Not only was my foot tapping, but my mouth was moving as though I had written it. I was singing all the words. I knew all the words. It was as if some other entity had entered my body and taken control of my awareness, and by the time I got a grip on myself and prepared to expel this foul intruder, I noted that it was too late.
There she stood, on the other side of the room with her arms crossed condescendingly. Her face was bright, and so was her smile. Mum had caught me. I had been busted. She raised her eyebrows to the heavens and pressed her lips into a line, suppressing what I knew to be a stomach full of accusation and laughter. I looked at her and slitted my eyes, greasing her off. She had the nerve to imitate me, slitting her own eyes in return but unable to wipe the self-righteous smile from her face. A deep sigh and a massive roll of my eyes, and I looked away, determined for her to do the same. She said nothing else, simply walking away, but not before she registered the self-defeated smile that tugged at my lips.
She had always banged on about him, about Bob Dylan. She always said that his voice was ‘the voice of a generation’, and I had shut her words out as though it were water that could drown me. As it turned out, not only was he the voice of a generation, but he was an artist that could transcend future ones. I would soon come to learn that only the best music could do this, and that its ability to do so makes it inarguably cool on principle, irrespective of generation.
© Casselise Rowe.
Casselise has also written about Crazy by Gnarls Barkley.