The Underworld Years

VinylWhile it seems, increasingly, the hard and fast rule is that there are no hard and fast rules I think it’s still reasonably true to say that it’s the music you listened to during your University or College years that tends to stay with you for the rest of your life.

Looking at it, that’s hardly surprising since those years are probably the time you’re most likely to be hit with a wide range of influences. I suspect that for most of us there’s a gradually expanding social circle from the time you’re a toddler until just after graduation (or the equivalent), followed by a fairly swift shrinkage as work, relationship and family responsibilities kick in.

Of course, there are ways of minimising the damage to your wide-ranging musical interests. These days there’s the internet with all sorts of avenues to explore, but most people talk much faster than they type and, in my case anyway, the damage has already been done.

Much as I’ve tried over the intervening years I’ve never managed to find anything like the social and musical network that existed in my part of Townsville between about 1969 and 1972.

It wasn’t as if we thought Townsville was a musical hotbed at the time. Most of us looked south with intensely green eyes. There were a surprising number of individuals who went on to emerge in the Sydney music scene a few years later, and there was even a spell when the Sunnyboys and Paul Kelly had long-term residencies at pubs around town, but Hughesy was well and truly in shrinking social circle mode by that stage.

The scene I look back on with considerable nostalgia emerged from a number of loosely intersecting factors. For a start we had a couple of collectors who were happy to sink a large part of the weekly pay packet into vinyl. 

I became one of them when I escaped from Teachers’ College at the end of 1971, but for a fair chunk of the preceding eighteen months I’d been on an income of precisely minus six cents per fortnight, so I spent most of that time listening to what others had accumulated rather than pursuing my own interests.


B© Ian Hughes 2012