From the Vault Friday: You Will Hear The Locust Sing

It took five hours in the car, four aspirin, three stops along the way (a petrol station, a roadside diner, a driver reviver), two cans of Coke Zero and one excellent cassette collection to get my sister and I back to Wagga Wagga in time for Christmas. A sleepy city in south-west New South Wales, the place my family call home boasts sixty thousand residents and the state’s highest rate of teen pregnancy. And on this particular visit home, the second of my bi-annual stopovers to coincide with religious holidays I don’t actually celebrate, Wagga Wagga was also boasting a plague of locusts and a generous number of mosquitoes the size of cats. Happy times! Pest-ridden times! Family times!

With presents unwrapped, mosquitoes swatted and crackers cracked, I’ve made it back in Sydney in time to encounter pests of another kind for New Year’s Eve. But it has been so long since I made a From the Vault post I thought I’d share with you some of the classics from the aforementioned excellent cassette collection.

Waylon Jennings, ‘Ladies Love Outlaws’

Nothing says road trip like the sweet wail of Waylon Jennings as you wind down the highway. The cassette I packed was actually a Waylon/ Willie combo, which to my ears is the best of both worlds. It kicked off with this beauty, ‘Ladies Love Outlaws’.

More than any other Outlaw, Waylon had the combination of charmer/pervert perfectly balanced. Have a listen to the half-smile in his voice as he sings

Ladies touch babies like a banker touches gold
Outlaws touch ladies somewhere deep down in their soul

Smooth driving, ladies.

Kris Kristofferson, ‘Loving Her Was Easier’

Ah Kristofferson, the ‘intellectual’ Outlaw. With both of us nursing hangovers, it was important to allow for some quiet time in the car. Someone to lull us into the rhythm of the road and reflect on the year that had so quickly passed us by. Someone to make us think of past loves and future loves. Someone who I could fantasise was a past or future love…

If you doubt the worthiness of my declarations of lust for Kris Kristofferson, do yourself a favour and check out some youtube clips from A Star Is Born.

Hell, if KK was good enough for Joan Baez, Rita Coolidge, Babs Streisand and Janis Joplin, he’s good enough for me.

Beaches / 100% Hits Vol. 14

We’d just past Goulburn (home of Australia’s ‘most secure prison’) when it was decided we needed a break from country music for a while. And who better to change the vibe than Bette Midler? We could laugh as she sang about tit-slings and cry as she sang about sickly best-friends.

It was a ladies only road trip.

Do not judge us.

But just as we were gearing up for some quality power ballad sing-a-longs, I opened the cassette case to discover that some joker at St Vincent De Paul had replaced Beaches with 100% Hits Vol. 14. Lucky we both love early ’90s Top 40 as much as we love The Divine Miss M!

This cassette gifted us with many great surprises, including ‘Dreams’ by The Cranberries, R.E.M.’s ‘What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?’ and ‘100% Pure Love’ by Crystal Waters, which disturbingly, I still know all the words to.

But the car favourite was definitely Warren G (featuring Nate Dogg) ‘Regulate’.

Gang violence, horny bros, slutty hos, Michael McDonald… Bette who?

Conway Twitty, ‘Heartaches By The Number’

On the homeward stretch it seemed only fair to end the journey as it began: country style. So it was Conway Twitty who serenaded us into town, just as a swarm of horny locusts hell bent on crop destruction flew towards the car windscreen as fast as their tiny wings could carry them.

Although I found it intensely amusing to be going home to a natural disaster of biblical proportions (I spent much of the road trip penning a new festive bush ballad called ‘There’s A Locust In My Chardonnay’), the reality for local farmers was not at all funny. Just weeks after torrential rain turned the former drought zone into a muddy brown waterworld, in buzzed the locusts for round two of farm sabotage.

Heartaches by the number indeed.

Catch y’all in 2011 xxx

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