Who Popped My Cork Part Five

How pop music influenced who I am.


Madonna and Me – The Early Years.

‘Who’s that girl?’

It wasn’t love at first sight.  There was a plethora of music shows on Australian television during this time.  It was on one of these shows that I first laid my eyes on this flouncy girl dancing in a choreographed routine on stage with two backing dancers.  Throwing her arms around in the air, jumping up and down.  Her long waving hair falling over her face despite it being loosely tied back into a ponytail.  She sang a song I found irritating and boring.  Holiday.  Blah!


Holiday, celebrate, Blah!


After seeing this video a few times it still did nothing for me.  After enduring it yet again, at the end of the clip the television presenter mentioned another song by her and showed a short clip of it.  That clip was Burning Up, her name was Madonna.  Confusion reigned as I tried to reconcile that this girl was that girl.  That faceless girl that sang that amazing song I’d fallen in love with on late night radio.  It couldn’t be I thought, the songs were completely different.

The Burning Up video began to receive airplay, it was to be her next single.  This Madonna girl was rolling around on a road, sexy and playful.  I promptly rushed out and bought the 12” remix version, playing it over and over again.  Her grainy black and white image on the cover, the choker chain around her neck.  The gazillion bracelets and studded wrist bands she wore threw me over the edge.  This is Madonna, not that girl flinging her arms in the air singing that awful Holiday song.


I was sitting in the hairdressers one sunny Saturday afternoon and heard something that piqued my attention.  It was a song called Lucky Star, next was Borderline, then Burning Up!  I had an endorphin rush. Madonna?  My Madonna?  Song after song captured my attention.  Side two started.  Ugh!  Holiday.  I was never an LP buyer, due to so many dud songs they usually contained.  Shortly after I had that LP.  I played it over and over and over again.  Madonna oozed confidence.  In interviews she came across as intelligent, self-assured, cocky, brass, sassy, and sexy, she knew what she wanted.  Embracing being different, constantly defending herself to the media that kept trying to pull her down.  I got her, I understood her.  I wanted to be just like her!


Next post Madonna and Me – The Formative Years.


Who Popped My Cork Part Four

How pop music influenced who I am.

Part Four

‘Do you wanna see me down on my knees.’

Lying in bed in the dark fiddling with a knob, suddenly I take my hand off it.  I feel a prick in my ears which shoots over my body.  Overcome with endorphins I feel a sudden need to ejaculate, (to utter suddenly and briefly; exclaim.  What were you thinking!!)  Bright, energetic, bubbly, high-energy dance music enlightens my ears through the headphones.  The sound travels between each of my ears in clean, crisp, clear FM stereo.

What is this new sound I’m hearing I wonder?  I feel something inside me click and connect with the sounds and the voices.  My first time hearing dance music on the newly created FM Stereo network.  I push down the Play and Record buttons simultaneously to capture this sound on cassette.  I try to be selective as to which songs I record as the blank cassette is nearly full.

I hear extended dance versions of a few songs I am vaguely familiar with in the shorter version format.  This nearly sends me over the edge.  I hear extra verses and different arrangements.  New musical sounds pop and crackle like a coffee peculator.  I’m drawn to it like it’s a big shiny disco ball (not that I’d ever seen one yet).  After a song I later learn to be Hazel Dean’s Jealous Love another song is mixed into it.  This one is a standout for me.  The vocals are sexy, urgent, pleading, the music has me wanting to dance in the sheets.  I’ve never heard anything like it before.  A few weeks later I discover that the track was called Burning Up by a girl named Madonna.

madonna and me.
Madonna and me

Next post:  Who Popped My Cork Part Five.  Madonna and Me – The Early Years.


Who Popped My Cork Part Three

How pop music influenced who I am.

Part Three

‘You leave and you slam the door.’

Resilience.  Being an ABBA fan in Australia after their shelf life had expired taught me resilience and strength of character.  When most of the rest of the population used their pre-loved ABBA t-shirts as dust rags, I continued to proudly wear mine for a while longer.  I may as well have drawn a target on my back.  I was ridiculed and publicly shamed.  Strangers would snigger and laugh at me, I even coped verbal abuse.  Teenage years can be difficult, a teenage ABBA fan raging with hormones and a question of sexuality tapping at the door, I had a lot to get through.

I never wore my ABBA t-shirts again, it was a stress I could do without.  If asked, about my music choices I never denied I was still and ABBA fan, I was just no longer a walking advertisement for them.  If I ever heard anyone bag ABBA I would always jump in and defend them regardless of the ridicule I would receive in return.  I had now built up the strength to withstand the taunts of others.  This skill better equipped me for what I was about to face in the years ahead when the very core of me would be ridiculed and condemned.


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The Commonwealth Bank of Australia advertisments mocking ABBA fans.


I was different from the other boys at primary school and high school.  I hated sport and would rather hang with the girls during recess.  Girls were more fun to be around, they loved music and to joke around.  I had so much more in common with them.  During high school in particular, I was called ‘poof’ or ‘pansy or both by the other boys, never any girls though.  I guess I must have led a sheltered life as I had no idea what those words meant until I innocently asked my mother.  She simply said it was men who go out with other men instead of women.  I was shocked.  Though I had to admit to myself I found boys more attractive and girls were just my best friends.

ABBA became quiet as they began to embark on their solo careers.  ABBA had never officially announced a break up so I just clung to a desperate hope that they would, sometime in the future have another record out.  That never happened and my life kept moving on but I never stopped playing or loving them.

With the influence of ABBA I became just like them, a nice clean-cut boy who dresses nicely, is polite, friendly and caring.  A mummy’s boy who all my friends mothers loved.

Deep down in my rebel heart I was tired of being a golden child I wanted to rebel but didn’t know how to kick the goody-two-shoes I was to the kerb.

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Coming up next.

Who Popped My Cork – Part Four

‘Do you wanna see me down on my knees.’



Who Popped My Cork Part Two


How pop music influenced who I am.

Part Two

‘You thrill me, you delight me’

‘There was hysteria’   The first records I ever had were the “ABBA” LP and the Dancing Queen single.  Then a bit later came the Waterloo and Best of ABBA. Ring Ring and Arrival I got for my birthday in December.  The picture inside of the Arrival album, ABBA standing outside the helicopter was so beautiful. I wondered why Bjorn had his arms crossed and a pout on his face was he angry and didn’t want his photo taken or was the photo taken and he wasn’t ready yet?

‘You’re my obsession.’

I really wanted the ABBA socks that I saw at a Coles variety store but mum wouldn’t buy them for me because she said they were for girls so my sister got them instead.  (I have them now hehehe).  As a compromise I could get something else ABBA. There was so much merchandise to choose from so after looking at the ABBA scrapbooks and ABBA exercise books I decided on the ABBA note pad. OK I was happy now, but when we went into the newsagent for Mum to buy the newspaper and the usual couple of cartons of weekly cigarettes I spied more ABBA!  There was a large choice of ABBA poster magazines and a various array of magazines with ABBA on the cover and some had ABBA pin ups in them.  I did get pocket-money every week but I never had enough to buy everything that I saw.  My Mum was very generous and would buy me the ABBA magazine that came from England.


You’re my obsession.  I just couldn’t stop collecting everything in sight.


Eventually I had so many ABBA pictures I cut and pasted some into a scrapbook, the others went onto my bedroom wall along with a few posters that I had.  In the middle of the night some of the pictures would fall down giving me a fright.  The sticky tape couldn’t hold them up properly, so I got some wood glue and stuck them up that way, they never fell down again. About a year later dad wanted to paint my room, so with a scraper in hand off the wall they came.   I salvaged what I could.  I soon had new ABBA posters and put them up with sticky tape.  Whenever I had a fight with my younger brothers they would run into our bedroom and rip some of my ABBA poster, they knew it was the only way they could really get back at me.

ABBA were a clean-cut group.  I idolised them.  Both of my parents smoked (cigarettes), our house smelt of smoke.  The walls were covered in it, it was disgusting.  I didn’t realise how so until after I moved out of home how bad it was.  I wanted to be like ABBA, they didn’t smoke.  Years later I was shocked that they actually did smoke, but kept it quiet and rightly so considering their young fan base.  Impressionable children like myself could have taken up smoking if their idols were seen smoking.  I became a clean-cut boy just like my idols.  I vowed never to smoke because my idols didn’t.

Coming soon:  Who Popped My Cork?   Part Three

You leave and you slam the door.

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Who Popped My Cork – Part One


Who Popped My Cork Part One


pop my cork
Who popped my cork?

How pop music influenced who I am.

Part One

How can I resist ya?

Sitting on the muted green coloured carpet with my legs crossed, my face was inches away from the television screen.  All that was on the screen was a static test pattern.  I was mesmerised.

My dad approached the television, reached over me and placed his hand on the dial, attempting to change the channel.  Hearing my scream of protest, he swiftly withdrew his hand from the dial.  Baffled at my outburst he asked why I was watching a screen with a test pattern on it.  I replied that it wasn’t the screen I was watching.  I was listening to the music being played.

I hadn’t heard it before.  It drew me in.  The music and the voices, nursey rhyme like but more to it.  A pulsating beat and angel like voices.  The sound was like Christmas morning seeing a bright shiny bike next to the Christmas tree.

I was enraptured and captivated at what I was hearing.  I’d never been interested in music very much previously.  A whole new dimension was about to be added to my life.  These sounds were about to shape the story of my life.

From that day I could never have imagined that integral parts of my future would be formed around what I was hearing.  Those sounds were going to help define me.  They would be with me from my childhood through my teenage years and into adulthood and eventually, the grave.  Mamma Mia – ABBA.


ABBA – Mamma Mia.  They were the first to pop my cork and shape my life.