What's your number one song of all time?
Not your current fling, the one playing every 15 minutes on the radio and the music channels (the ones that still play actual music). I'm talking about that one tune you always go back to, that's forever playing at the back of your mind. Like that ex you can't shake. The cornerstone of your very existence. THAT special song that's yours, and yours alone.
For me that song is Nothing Like The Rain, by 2 Unlimited.
Imagine for one moment you're an awkward, introverted adolescent. A deeply depressed loner. A teenage virgin in a country that doesn't want you, and where you don't belong anyway.
17-years-old, in a relentlessly white place populated with dry, white people. Not Irish or German or French, just plain white. Trust me, there's a difference. Australians: devoid of colour, culture, history, and somehow, soul...
Okay, so maybe it wasn't just Australia in the late '90s. Maybe it wasn't just those cold, cruel, blank subur-bots. Maybe suburbia is like that everywhere. Would I have been better off back in Northern Ireland, racked by war and terror?
So, for a while, that tortured 17-year-old escaped into books, and became a nerd. You don't have to think about reality when there's somewhere else to go. The trouble is, you can sink too deep into books, and into your own world. You don't learn how to relate to Other People in books. Neither do you learn how to get between the sheets, between the pages.
The young Garçon Stupide had little interest in music at that time. Just a little Annie Lennox, nothing else. Nothing from my generation. Pearl Jam? Metallica? Nirvana? That was music for the other kids, the pastie Aussies in black t-shirts. What else was there?
There was a TV show I watched in those days in the early evening. I don't even remember what it was - probably some sit-com from Britain, from home. At 6.25pm, before the next show started at 6.30pm, they'd show a random music video as filler (for the benefit of American readers, both the UK and Australia have highly regarded taxpayer-funded broadcasters that don't show adverts).
So there I was: aloof, totally disengaged from my own peers, in a world of my own. It's about 6.25pm on 12th October 1995. I'm waiting impatiently for the next show to start, sighing impatiently as the video starts. More teen garbage.
And then I see him, moving through the blue, all muscular shoulders, and smooth brown biceps, chanting. Is this what they call rap?
There's nothing like the rain / Nothing like the rain / To come and wash away / Away the pain
Ever been drawn to something or someone against your will? The current's so strong I'm pulled in deeper and deeper. I hit the record button on the VCR (remember those?) right then.
Let me ask a question / Where do we go from here / Playing games to pass the time / That's okay / 'Cos time is on our side
So the song goes. Did that desperately sad 17-year-old have any idea how pertinent the lyrics were, or did he just see Him?
If I make a promise / I'll never let you down / Love will always break your heart / So they say / But we can turn that 'round
Everything changed from that point on. Shamefully, I tipped all my books into the bin. There was only the music after that. And then The Scene, the life, the boys, the sex, escape to New York... Everything followed from this one music video.
This one music video really was that important to me. Call it a trigger.
It's there, can you feel it? / A chance to change your world if you want it / You can give up a lot but don't give in / Be ready for your break when it comes your way / Today I say, "Hey, be prepared" / A break in the clouds - you will be heard / Raise your voice, stake your claim / After the storm, after the rain...
The young Garçon Stupide tried to love other songs about rain. Madonna's Rain was kinda cool. But nothing compares to this slick, sexy "electro ballad" from 1995. It's still amazing, everytime I watch it, and I have done countless times since. It's beyond beautiful. The not-like-in-American-videos dancing! The black fish! The flowers! The cascading water! The bass... boom boom-boom boom-Boom-BOOM-boom! And the guy! Boy oh boy, the guy... Ray Slijngaard is sexy. The kind of pretty you can imagine in sailor suits modelling Jean Paul Gaultier. He might not be the best rapper in the world (this is pop, kids) but I could listen to him all day.
Maybe it's just me.