An Album from 2003: The Official Fiction, Something For Kate.
I recently saw Missy Higgins play in Newcastle - she was glorious, and touring for her new album which is amazing covers of Australian bands. She covered Something for Kate's You Only Hide, introducing it with the tale of her love of the band and the fangirling over Paul Dempsey, frontman for the band.
It reminded me of this album, which I haven't listened to since the second half of 2003. I listened to pretty much just this for 3 months, when it was up to me, or when I was driving, which was often as I still lived in Kentucky, 50+ kms from anything or anyone.
Something for Kate are one of those bands that crept up on me - I remember finding them quite tough listening originally, preferring silverchair or Powderfinger or Nirvana or Radiohead or yikes, any of a million things. I listened to a lot of music, and I still do, compulsively.
Something for Kate's You Only Hide, the song Missy covers for her new album Oz, was actually the gateway song for me. The lyrics caught me in the midst of one angsty in-love-with-someone-who-didn't-love-me-back situation (one of many, to be honest). I listened to their back catalogue with the same determination I gave any new band I thought I might love. By the end of highschool I'd been sidetracked by Smashing Pumpkins and then, unfortunately, the likes of Counting Crows (a phenomenon I like to refer to as "assimilation with your boyfriend's bland musical taste"). At this point in time, I wasn't a Something for Kate groupie - I didn't know they had released a new album when I bought The Official Fiction in '03.
I had just finished my HSC - it was the first time I was desperately concerned about my marks and for some reason certain I wouldn't do as well as I expected. Despite years of evidence to the contrary, I was sure I'd disappoint myself and studied obsessively. I ended up with a stupidly good mark which still makes me shake my head. I didn't even need all those marks - I did a BA in the end, but how was I to know that's the decision I'd make?
I also had just embarked on my first real relationship with someone I'd known since Year 8. Unfortunately I was way too rosy-eyed about that one, but at the time I just waged the constant self-confidence battle in my mind of "why in the ever-living fuck is this amazing guy interested in me?". Unfortunately for me he turned out to be considerably different from what I expected or imagined a relationship was. But you know, now we can laugh about it and I can speak much more knowledgeably about mental illness, so there's that.
I had finished my exams, and the boyfriend had come up to stay. My parents were being incredibly cool and letting him sleep in my room (they were a little distracted as you will learn shortly). So we had passed a terrific night of me awkwardly refusing to have sex with him yet. I woke up in the morning and walked into the kitchen, and my parents sat me down and told me they were splitting up. It was not a thing I expected, at all.
The urge to flee kicked in pretty quick and as I was grabbing some things to leave, Mum gave me $50 cash with pretty much no instructions.
So that was how I funded the purchase of The Official Fiction. I made the boyfriend drive us into town, I dropped him off and went to KMart. I wandered aimlessly. I got to the cds, noted a new Something For Kate album and figured it would do. I drove around town for 2 hours or so, and damned if those lyrics didn't assure me that I was not the only bruised heart in the world.
I mean now, if I'd had news like that and been given $50 it would have gone to whisky as a no-brainer. But I'm glad (for many reasons) that 18 year old Helen didn't know about whisky. This album was a lot of things to me for those 3 months.
And after that, I moved to Melbourne and I couldn't listen to it again. It moved around with me and my cd collection several times until I sold it at the Camberwell markets along with many other things I owned and moved to Canada.
The one that gets me now is 'Reverse Soundtrack'.
so you dance and you shuffle, into the eye of the storm
your eyes all on fire as if you've never been here before
and you say it's all nothing, but tell yourself quietly
but i hear you from my house, breathing differently
and when it all falls down
you won't just stand there
looking at the ground
holding your breath
so you drive til the water changes from blue to green
and you wait there until the wind knocks you out of your body
you can stay here forever counting the stars
trying to separate yourself from how things are
but you know you won't get very far
until it all falls down
so don't just stand there
looking at the ground
and holding your breath
In fairness, The Official Fiction isn't their best album. But it got me through 3 months of my life that I don't remember much of besides that music. It got me here.
I bought a copy of it on iTunes post-Missy Higgins show and I don't regret it - it makes me want to listen to all their stuff again, and quietly love Paul Dempsey in particular for giving me something. Thanks, Paul.