Welcome to the second part of the theoretical soundtrack to the Tales of the Geek Underclass! If you haven’t read it already you may want to head back to Part One – otherwise, enjoy!
About halfway through our high school careers the elderly and hardly ever seen school Chaplain was replaced by the young and dynamic Father Jack. He was about as cool as any Catholic priest could hope to be, which was probably down to him being a Franciscan (all Franciscans harbour a touch of anarchy in their hearts) and his taking his dog with him everywhere, even up on the altar at school masses. We geeks ended up sharing a cabin with him on the year 12 retreat, which was certainly better than having to bunk down in the dorm with all the jocks.
One thing he did seem to miss the boat on though was the meaning of Elton John’s song Sacrifice. He played this incessantly at school religious events, linking it with Jesus’s crucifixion. Unfortunately it’s actually a song about infidelity and relationship breakdown. Not such a great choice there Father!
Mr Feverson, the school art teacher, liked playing music in class. This generally varied between classical works such as Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess and tracks from a ‘self-esteem’ CD he apparently thought suitable for the edification of teenagers rather than kindergarten children who might actually feel encouraged rather than talked down to by a song titled My Magic Brain.
I’m not entirely sure of the circumstances that lead to him authorising a student to play Body Count’s Momma’s Gotta Die Tonight. He stood by the CD player with an interested expression as the song began, an expression that became increasingly troubled as Ice-T rapped about discovering his mother was a racist. By the time Ice was beating his mother to death with a baseball bat Mr Feverson’s face was drawn and pale, and when it got to distributing her body parts all over the United States he looked ready to either burst into tears or pass out.
Personally I found the song to be so ridiculously over the top as to be hilarious. I can’t imagine seeing one of his students laughing hysterically at this sordid tale of matricide made Mr Feverson’s day any easier.
Similarly bought in and played by a student was this meditative piece by King Missile. It was in Mr Eggar’s Religious Education class in 1993, our senior year. At the start of said year Mr Eggar had informed us that he didn’t believe in forcing religion down people’s throats so he would teach us whatever we needed to pass any tests and otherwise we should treat his classroom as a place to hang out, catch up on any study or homework we were lagging behind on, and generally just do whatever we wanted as long as it didn’t disrupt our fellow students. Forget Jesus, Mr Eggar was way cool.
One day someone bought in King Missile’s album and asked to play this song. Mr Eggar allowed it and we listened. We all agreed that it was pretty cool, and then asked Mr Eggar if we could play King Missile’s other well known track Detachable Penis.
Mr Eggar jumped up like he’d been shot and grabbed the CD player, stating that with ‘Fruitbat’ Romero as Principal there was no way in Hades he could allow us to play such a song. He maintained this line firmly despite much begging and my own explanation that the song was “just another way of looking at life” – a statement even I found puzzling as soon as it left my mouth.
For reasons I can only attribute to the fact that their music is so damn good, Ryan and I became massive Dire Straits fans in high school. This was decidedly uncool – while the other kids were listening to Nevermind and Blood Sugar Sex Magic we were grooving to Brothers in Arms and swapping pirated tapes of On Every Street (my sloppy handwriting making My Parties look like My Panties was the source of great merriment, particularly as I’d filled up some left over space on the cassette with Single Handed Sailor). We’d challenge each other to identify Straits songs by their lyrics – Ryan notably baffling me by quoting The Blues (a rare track that I didn’t rate so much).
Dire Straits were also called into action when a couple of our geeky comrades forgot to bring in examples of ballads for English class. I happened to have Money For Nothing on me that day so Adam was assigned Tunnel of Love, while I managed to come up with a somewhat convincing argument for Walk of Life for Mark.
As such the soundtrack would not be complete without a contribution from Mr Knopfler, and what better than this classic tale of loneliness?
By 1990 glam rockers Skyhooks were looking rather worse for wear, but they managed to pull themselves together enough to commemorate the thawing of Russian relations with this hit novelty track.
We geeks had a somewhat mixed relationship with it – it should have been terrible on every level, but the the lyrics were pretty clever and the tune was really annoying catchy. We compromised by singing along with slightly altered lyrics – Jukebox in Siberia! A pain in the posterior!
Every time I hear this song it takes me back to the summer of 1991-1992, lying on my bed in my newly cleaned bedroom, listening to the radio and reading a graphic novel adaption of Dragons of Winter Night with the sun streaming in the windows and the entire school holidays in front of me.
Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II both came out in 1991 and were regarded as almost holy artifacts when one of the bogans bought copies of them with him to the year 11 retreat at Jarrahdale. The obvious track to feature would be the awesome November Rain – particularly after Fabian spent hours and hours transcribing the violins by ear to reproduced them in a tracker program, but I’m instead featuring the decidedly second rate You Could Be Mine simply because Satanic Shaun Bettar almost punched me in the face when I mistakenly attributed it to Metallica during a discussion about Terminator 2 in art class.
Desperate efforts were made during the year 11 Jarrahdale retreat to try and pick up a Perth radio station for some decent music (the bogans refusing to yield either Use Your Illusion for general consumption). Fiddling with the aerial eventually picked up a crackly and distorted signal long enough to listen to Mr Big’s To Be With You and Zucchero and Paul Young’s Senza una Donna before it faded back into static.
The current generation tend to know this as the HEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA song, but back in 1993 we were blown away by the astonishing vocals (and most impressive hat) of Linda Perry.
So there we go. Be sure to check back soon for the third and final installment of the Tales of the Geek Underclass Soundtrack!