As a kid growing up in a small town in central Queensland, Australia; we only had two television channels. One was the ever reliable Australian Broadcasting Commission – sponsored by the Federal Government and like the Federal Government of the time – staid, boring and pretty predictable (however some local production gems would be screened from time to time). The other channel was a commercial channel beamed to us from the nearest “city” -which population of about 40,000 people at the time.
Being a small television station with few affiliates, the movies shown were at least 15 years old. I grew up watching Doris Day musicals, Mickey & Judy, Beach Party movies and the like. For some reason it was assumed that that’s what the country folks wanted & by Christ, that’s what we got! Every Saturday Night and every Sunday afternoon.
So what happened? Walking down the main street of my town, no-one ever broke into song , the good and honest people of Bilo never began dancing in perfectly choregraphed steps with total strangers and no snake oil salesmen judged talent shows in an effort to rip money off the local Burghers before realising the error of their ways (shown of course by our local values). For some reason this has consistently made me feel like there’s been a gap in my life. Hey – if there was to be singin` & dancin` in the streets of Bilo, I was ready!
As I grew older (into my teens), I finally realised that a completely unrehearsed musical event was unlikely to occur, so I turned my attentions to other things. But the same movies kept turning up on television – possibility the most consistent thing in our lives. Being too young to have a car and attend the local drive-in (we actually had one on the outskirts of town for about 5 years), a lot of my fumbling attempts at romance were in front of a television in someone’s living room. Losing my virginity at 15 whilst “Calamity Jane” was being screened affected me in many ways. I can never recall the song/words “Oh the Windy City is mighty pretty ….” without a wry smile and a sense of longing and I still have a soft spot for Doris Day when she’s dressed in buckskin. I grew up to be a devotee of early Kiss, the Beatles, Bluegrass, Blues (and a shameful ‘Glam’ period.)
My point? Okay – life’s not a musical & the movies let us down when reality hits, but the background music at every stage of our lives is important because of the memories. Gotta go now – I wonder if the wife is up for opening a bottle of wine while I rip down to Blockbuster to check out Doris riding the Deadwood Stage (no pun intended).