Fiction by John Weldon
Traffic lights, Melbourne. September 2010
I found myself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And I still couldn’t get that f—ing song out of my head. I rifled through the cassettes in the glove box, found an old Glenn Campbell tape and shoved that in the player. Big mistake. Glenn was right in the middle of ‘Where’s the playground Suzie?’ His sweet melancholic voice wasn’t going to do me any favours, and as soon as he launched into that bit about her not being content with something about him, I let out a mighty Graham Kennedy-style ‘Faaaaaaark’, pressed eject and threw the tape out the window.
The next tape that came to hand was The Eagles, and of course it was cued up to ‘Lyin’ Eyes’, so I threw that out the window too.While stopped at the lights I went through my tape collection and threw out Leonard Cohen’s So Long Marianne; Hunters and Collectors’ Human Frailty; the first Sunnyboys album and The Triffids’ Born Sandy Devotional. I hated throwing away The Triffids album. I knew that I could never tire of listening to David McComb sing “Wide open road” and that if I’d played it I’d be weeping instantly, which probably would have been a good thing at the time, but I was determined not to go there.
This is not a f—ing Nick Hornby novel, I thought, this is my life. I am not going to soak up misery in sudsy pop tunes. I am not going to alphabetise my record collection as a form of therapy, nor am I going to define every emotion I feel in relation to someone else’s version of heartbreak. I so wanted to wail along to Mr Melancholy McComb as he sang about the one you love sleeping with someone else. But that was his misery, not mine and to use it as a poultice to suck the pus out of my heart seemed teenage at best …
Still, I wanted something to listen to, just to the break the silence. At the second set of lights I found a very old copy of Kiss’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Over, which I hadn’t played for years but which I could never muster the heart to throw out because it had meant so much to me as a teenager. I pushed that into the cassette player and as soon as the opening chords of ‘Take me’ blasted out of the speakers I knew I had made the right decision. It was all fast cars, loud music and back seat fumbling. No trace of love, melancholy, pathos, nothing deeper or more poignant than a ‘Woooh yeah!” and a ‘Baby, baby’.
I still knew every word and I sang my guts out. It was completely meaningless, totally shallow and absolutely without any relevance to anything going on in my life. Perfect. The whole record was like that. Even the syrupy mush of ‘Hard luck woman’, which I fast-forwarded through, failed to spoil the effect. I felt the adrenaline start to pump as I yelled myself hoarse. This was rock and roll doing what it does best: making a man feel invincible, sixteen, and ready to give the whole world the finger. I got home and hunted out my other Kiss albums and spent the rest of the afternoon lying on my back with the headphones on full knacker adrift in a sea of hollow cock rock.
© John Weldon
John Weldon is a Melbourne writer and writing lecturer at Victoria University, Melbourne. This extract is from his debut novel Spincycle, published in 2012 by The Vulgar Press.