Sydney 1990s

My eldest sister was born in 1971. As an infant she would fall asleep under an open window with a floral curtain flowing to the sounds of Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin.

When I was born in 1992, the family had changed. My siblings’ mother had been taken by cancer. My father met my mother two years before I was born.

Despite my father facing tragedies and milestones, the core of him remained the same, especially his taste in music.

Our father was and remains a rock and roller.

So I’m pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.

I always did love stories, stories within music, songs that tell a tale.

While I can’t remember being read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I do remember Sympathy For The Devil blaring in the car while I was still in a booster seat.

I remember it symbolising the end of my father’s workday and initiating the beginning of my parents’ playtime.

I remember first learning to pirouette holding my father’s finger, twirling and twirling while Anastasia screamed in vain.

I knew the words before I knew the meaning, much like a child who knows the lyrics to Hot Potato by The Wiggles but has no concept of why the potato was hot and why anyone was singing about it.

Religion held no place in my father’s household so the Devil seemed like an interesting enough character for a small child to get acquainted with.

A man of wealth and taste, the ‘man’ seemed exciting.

Much like my father.

Before I could read or write Sympathy For The Devil went hand in hand with my feelings for my dad, like the song was written about him or he perhaps had a hand in the creation of it.

He promptly answered my questions about who the Kennedys were and what a troubadour was, and where Bombay was.

He said Mick Taylor was the greatest guitarist of all time, citing the guitar solo on the live version of the 1969 US tour.

“Paint it blaaaccckkkk” yells a fan before they launch into Sympathy For The Devil almost out of spite and what occurs is a sound, a magic, an era and a rebellion that lived on in our small semi in the eastern  suburbs of Sydney.

A song that was the soundtrack to my youth. Twenty-four years after its release.

It wasn’t until school and the outside world infiltrated that I realised that not all families play music all night long and that not all little girls could recite the lyrics to Sympathy For The Devil.

My peers were completely unaware of the song or what it was that I was reciting. Parents looked on with curiosity and nostalgia.

My father looked on with pride.


Sophia Irvine is a freelance writer living and working in Sydney. Sophia works and blogs for the clothing label The Naked Tiger and has been published by Independent Australia, Monster Children and others. Sophia strongly believes she should have been working for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s.