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The Sound Of The Suburbs


Stackabones

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As a suburbanite, the following comment from Andy Partridge about his suburban home, Swindon, struck home with me ...

 

 

"I don't actually like the place very much," he said. "Whenever I've got enough money to move out, something seems to come along and take it away. But I do like the idea that it's given me something to kick against.
It's the anvil you get to harden stuff up on
."

 

 

That last line is so apt.

 

The article goes on to list various suburban influences in bands and songs and the precedence in poets such as Betjeman & Larkin.

link

 

Do y'all have any songs like this? I'm going to check through my stuff to see what I've got, too.

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I don't think I've ever written anything specific to my locale. It sounds like a good idea for writing and one that might make for a good future challenge if Ram is listening.

 

FWIW, reading that article sounds exotic to someone who's been living in North America most of his life. I have no idea what "I used to go round the Co-op with my mum's dividend number" means. LOL

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I grew up in the suburbs.

 

I found it stultifying, oppressive, repressive (one day when I was walking around because my car was in the shop, I was rousted three times in two walks) and crushingly boring. (And don't even start me on the incredibly boneheaded school district.)

 

I wasn't able to start learning to play music -- though I tried and tried -- until I got the hell out.

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I love to visit my friends in the burbs! There's a great big TV there, and 4,000 channels, play on demand, surround sound and high def. :love: There's a back porch we can smoke on, and a nice grill complete with steaks. :thu:

 

But fortunately, I have never lived in the burbs. I think I'd be out of sorts there, in general.

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There's a great big TV there, and 4,000 channels, play on demand [...]

 

I'll bet that big TV's picture is all scrunched up because, seemingly like most folks with BSTV's, they can't figure out how to get the aspect ratio right. :D

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I'll bet that big TV's picture is all scrunched up because, seemingly like most folks with BSTV's, they can't figure out how to get the aspect ratio right.
:D

 

I'm not sure what you're referring to, since, personally, my last microwave was larger than my TV is. :lol::lol::lol: All I know is theirs looks a whole lot better than mine. :D I'm pretty sure they've got their 'TV {censored}' together. :idk:

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I'm not sure what you're referring to, since, personally, my last microwave was larger than my TV is.
:lol::lol::lol:
All I know is theirs looks a whole lot better than mine.
:D
I'm pretty sure they've got their 'TV {censored}' together.
:idk:

No, I didn't think you had a big screen TV.

 

I'm just referring to the fact that most of the time I see BSTV's in folks' houses, the aspect ratio is wack and everyone is stretched sideways to fill the screen. A few times, I've just hit the wall and fixed it for them.

 

When my next door neighbor accidentally set her TV source to her DVD and couldn't play a tape (or something like that) and called me for help, I also fixed the aspect ratio.

 

She said, why's the picture so small and I said, because that's how they broadcast it. I can make it so it fills the screen -- but it will be distorted, stretched sideways to fill it. She said she thought that was what she wanted so we switched back and forth a few times.

 

I showed her how circles were actually ovals on the TV as she wanted it, and pointed out how everyone had a bulldog face, and she indicated she understood what I was talking about but told me she guessed she was just used to it and asked me to leave it in the stretched/distorted mode. Amazing.

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When I was a kid, the suburbs weren't a hindrance but a wonderful life. Little League, Cub Scouts, safely riding my bike to school. Playing "ditch 'em" until bed time out in the dark neighborhood.

 

It was family life and I was a family kid.

 

I now live in a beach community that combines the best parts of the suburb with a nice bit of culture and attitude as well.

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I think a lot of my feelings about the suburbs in the area I grew up in have a lot to do with the fact that it was farmland and semi-rural when I was a kid. I used to ride my bike up to the creek (which somehow got pronounced crick) and we'd go exploring up the creek bed, checking out the crayfish, tiny little fish darting around, and other creek critters. And when we moved, we ended up just a five minute walk away from a little creek (that would later turn into a rushing river and force evacuation in my neighborhood only a block away -- amusingly, houses on exactly the same level as my house, where we were on, I think, a two hour warning).

 

But, of course, the whole time, the city was filling in around.

 

Still, even in my last year of high school and first year of college, it was easy to get into 'the country' -- a 10 minute drive would take you up into the hills. In those days, we'd go ghost hunting, driving aimlessly across the few rural highways through the hills, occasionally poking down forgotten dirt or private roads.

 

And we had at least a couple of pretty well known ghosts. The Pink Lady. Old Lady Modjeska (the famous actress, who retired to a ranch 'way back' in the low coastal mountains to the east of Orange County).

 

One night, way away from everything, about 3:30 am on a weeknight, driving through with friends I saw a gray old lady -- looking ever so much like a hunched over old peasant woman -- walking through the woods not too far from the highway. Maybe it was just a sleepless old lady. There were some farms and ranches not too far away, maybe a mile or two. Maybe it was because of my expectations, but she seemed oddly timeless...

 

 

Now... of course, that's all paved over, subdivided, landscraped...

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When I was a kid, the suburbs weren't a hindrance but a wonderful life. Little League, Cub Scouts, safely riding my bike to school. Playing "ditch 'em" until bed time out in the dark neighborhood.

 

 

Me too......a bunch of 14 year old kids in the mid 60's playing Louie Louie in a suburban garage until some neighbor called the police.

 

I love that 'anvil' quote, though. I have used every place I have lived as an anvil...still do. But I think those childhood suburban days still invest many of my songs in subtle but very real ways.

 

And....now that I think about it, I do have a song......'Smokin' Up The Cabaret'....written about that same band of young upstarts. Might need to dig it up and record it.

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So....I read the article. My suburbs were different....we were young and there was so much to do. Those were good times...I recall them vividly.....particularly the girl who lived in the house behind us.;)

 

Do y'all have any songs like this?

 

Anyway, yeah....I remembered that tune. Haven't played this one in a very long time. After I mellowed out a bit from a tough day and made some dinner I slipped into the studio.

 

That was round about....oh....beer-thirty or so.

 

Smokin' Up The Caberet

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Many post-war boomers like me remember a pleasant childhood in new suburbs that sprang up in the 1950s. I have only good memories - lots of kids around, playing with a sense of total safety, school 2 blocks from home, bicycling everywhere.

 

It became more boring to a teenager. The attractions of the city were a long bus ride away (none of us had cars in high school).

 

The same area has now filled in completely. Boundaries between "towns" are marked by high-traffic arterial roads. It's a lot less green.

 

I haven't written anything about that time or place. I didn't begin to write until many years after I left suburbia. Maybe I'll try to put something together. Thanks for planting the seed, and for the "anvil" image. :)

 

 

FWIW, reading that article sounds exotic to someone who's been living in North America most of his life. I have no idea what
"I used to go round the Co-op with my mum's dividend number"
means. LOL

 

There are a number of co-ops in Canada. Most are agricultural, with membership restricted to farmers/producers, but in some cases they have expanded to include urban/suburban supermarkets. When I lived out west I was a member, and used my dividend to buy groceries. :)

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I too grew up in a small burb where the streets were being paved one per year. Ours was one of the last. All of us kids would get together and put on concerts, theatre and ballet in someone's garage -- if we weren't jumping off the roof of it. And nobody ever stopped us. And I had my first crush on the boy who lived behind us. And that never goes away. :)

 

Now I live in a suburb of LA -- which those who have been here know that LA is just one sprawling suburb. Quite different, but exciting in a way. A guy walked into a bar three blocks away and blew away four people on Saturday. Every night there are sirens. But if you don't have money to put gas in your car, someone will give you a buck. If you don't have food, someone will buy you a meal. There's good and bad.

 

And then there's the Los Angeles Zoo known as Hollywood. :) Nothing inspires more songs and stories than the characters on the street there.

 

But sometimes, the more rural, quiet suburb sounds very sweet. Or am I getting old?

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I love that 'anvil' quote, though. I have used every place I have lived as an anvil

 

 

I like that.

 

I think we all do. As songwriters, I dont think any of us are totally apathetic to our environment. Love it or hate it, inspiration is there.

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Wait.....is that you??!
:love:;)

 

I thought I recognized you! But you're not 7 anymore! How'd that happen?

 

Or are you? 7 I mean.

 

I see the resemblance.

 

I think you had more hair then and I was a few pounds thinner.

 

But our music is better now. :love::cool:

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