This is a mixtape by Geoff Orton and Daniela Frangos.
Each month I'm going to ask a friend to share with us their favourite songs in line with our monthly theme. This month I asked Daniela Frangos, marketing manager at the National Young Writers’ Festival, music writer and all round legend to help us out with our ‘youth' theme.
Silverchair - 'Tomorrow'
So, I figured the best place to start is with the first band that I was obsessed with. If I’m honest the first bands that I listened to that weren’t on 100% Hits Vol. 5, were Soundgarden and Nirvana but I quite literally played Silverchair’s first EP to death. On car trips with my family between Sydney and Melbourne for Christmas, I remember just hitting play again and again on my Discman, listening to this song.
It’s still such a great song and it makes me feel so old to think that it’s almost 20 years old.
Add to this the fact that Daniel, Chris and Ben were teeangers when they wrote this, I reckon it’s a pretty good place to start a mixtape all about being young - Geoff
Blink 182 - 'Dammit'
Ah, Silverchair. Classic starting point. I think this has kicked things off on a certain mood so I’m going to fast forward past the 1990s pop music, as amazing as that playlist would be, and begin with the first band I was obsessed with – after Hanson, obvs.
Besides Silverchair, Blink 182 were the first ‘alt’ band I was drawn to. I absolutely thrashed their album Enema of the State. I remember buying the CD with my mum. I was 11 or 12 and it was the first time she looked deeply concerned by my life choices. Blink 182 were the perfect youth-centred band, with lyrics on growing up, making bad decisions, heartbreak and aliens. I’ve gone with their earlier track 'Dammit', because it’s a classic and was featured in the movie Can’t Hardly Wait which was a significant part of my adolescence - Dani
Rage Against the Machine - 'Killing in the Name'
Ha, I still remember the look my mother gave me when I came home with Guns n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion II. The ‘Explicit Lyrics’ label popped right out to my Mum and I couldn’t believe how naughty it felt to hear music with swearing in it.
Blink 182 is a perfect choice. For me this song was drinking far too much beer, circle pits at suburban parties and throwing up in my mate’s Mum’s garden.
With that in mind I had to pick a Rage Against the Machine song because they were definitely part of every party I went to growing up. Listening to it now, I’m kinda embarrassed by how macho and fifteen it was to throw myself around someones garage and scream ‘Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me’, but really, that was me as a teenager right there - Geoff
Regurgitator - '! (The Song Formerly Known As)'
Haha it’s alright Geoff, your testosterone levels were going crazy and you didn’t know how to deal. I love the image of a group of hormone-fuelled teenagers thrashing about to this song. I think the equivalent for me is '! (The Song Formerly known As)'. This song would go off every.single.time. It got a bloody good run at high school parties. I think we all enjoyed the irony of singing 'I don’t go to parties, baby' cos, like, we were clearly at a party!
I actually saw Regurgitator at my first Big Day Out in 2005 and my friends and I went crazy when this song came on. Ah, to be sweet 16 again.
Also, 'drinking far too much beer at party, circle pits at suburban parties and throwing up in my mate’s Mum’s garden.' - I think you just described the entire plot of Can’t Hardly Wait - Dani
You Am I - 'Please Don’t Ask Me to Smile'
I love that you chose this song. I was lucky enough to see Regurgitator play UNIT in one go at the Falls Festival a couple of years ago and it really was a classic album.
Actually, on the day of my 18th birthday I went with my friend Alex to see Regurgitator play at the Metro in Sydney. The bouncer asked how old I was, looked at my ID and then bought me a beer. Ben and Quan walked onto the stage in full silver lycra to the tune of Boston’s 'More Than A Feeling'. I was blown away.
I went to a lot of all ages gigs when I was under 18 and was shocked to see how calm the crowds were. I was used to running amok, so full of energy. Nostalgia is a funny beast but I don’t think I’ve been that excited to see a band since then.
You Am I was another band I saw a lot of growing up. And hearing lyrics from a guy that grew up just down the road from me really was something special. This song in particular really is about growing up and takes me right back to being an awkward teenager. Lucky for me, I never had braces but I can relate. So many feels - Geoff
Jebediah - 'Harpoon'
Haha, teenage awkwardness. So familiar. I think while we’re on this Aus-rock road I’m gonna throw in some Jebediah. Slightly Oddway was full of angsty teen gems. Most people could probably relate to 'Leaving Home' - I remember threatening to run away as a kid rather often. One time I just went and hung out in the tree in our front yard, wasn’t quite game enough to set foot outside the property.
Anyway, my choice is 'Harpoon', it’s still such a great track. I used to love singing along to it with Kevin Mitchell’s exaggerated annunciation. I loved this song long before experiencing any actual heartbreak, but felt an extra special connection listening to it after my first break up. I’d say it pretty well captures that confusion and hot-cold nature of young love - Dani
Arcade Fire - 'The Suburbs'
I feel like we had very similar adolescent years. I remember looking out the car window on roadtrips just feeling all the heartbreak. Also one of the first bands I saw. I wonder though, are these songs something you still listen to? Does it still capture heartbreak for you?
I ask because I haven’t listened to Slighty Oddway for a long time but it was really important to me.
One album that I do keep coming back is to is Arcade Fire’s first Funeral. I really wanted to pick Neighbourhood #1 just because it’s all about trying to break out of your parents house and get to that person you cannot be without.
But I decided to go with 'The Suburbs' because it has such a great film clip and riding around on my pushbike with nothing to do, was pretty much childhood - Geoff
Neutral Milk Hotel - 'King of Carrot Flowers Pt 1'
Such a good question. I have to say I don’t really listen to any of these songs anymore. I suppose I’m not the most loyal music fan out there - I tend to love a song, leave it and find the next one.
But there’s something about the music from your youth that always has a hold on you. I can hear any song from the late 90s and early 2000s and it takes me right back. I think there’s a real connection to songs from the era you first really begin to delve into music; when you start seeking it out and really relating to the words and the energy of the song.
It’s funny how this has become such a call and response sort of playlist, but each song of yours triggers a new one in my mind. While we’re talking the mundanity of everyday, suburban life, I want to bring us to Neutral Milk Hotel. 'In the Aeroplane over the Sea' is one of the most beautiful songs but I think I have to go with 'King of Carrot Flowers Pt 1'. The song really captures the discovery in young love and that feeling of it being so unique and special...and then all that beauty is juxtaposed with a really fucked up narrative of the parents, with the lovers in the track sort of finding solace away from them. It’s nice - Dani
Phoenix - 'Too Young'
I think I first heard Neutral Milk Hotel when I’d left uni and was living and properly paying my own way for the first time. I was in Narrabri, NSW and it was some time in the mid-2000’s. I was living in a small country town and didn’t know anyone.
I know it’s a long leap from the Central West to a night on the lash in Tokyo but I really feel like the first time I heard this song, I’d heard the most perfect pop song of all time. I don’t even remember Lost in Translation playing the lyrics of the song but I didn’t want anything more than to be partying in a foreign city with Scarlett Johannson. It really does capture that euphoria before the night becomes too long.
And listening to it now, it still might be the most perfect pop song - Geoff
The Shins - 'New Slang'
Phoenix are masters of pop. I’d never actually heard this song - beyond unknowingly hearing it in the film, turns out - but really got into Alphabetical and Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. I must have spent 70% of 2009 jumping around to 'Lisztomania' on grimy dance floors. Lost in Translation is such a great film - and what a soundtrack. 'Just like Honey' by Jesus and Mary Chain is phenomenal.
Just to follow on from what we were saying about that forever-love for songs you discover in your youth, it’s interesting to think about the nostalgia associated with films you really connect with growing up. I saw Lost in Translation around the same time I first saw Garden State and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and those two movies just floored me. I watched them so many times - and actually incorporated them into a high school English assignment, lol. It’s funny to see them now, Garden State hasn’t aged very well. But I feel such a connection to those movies. I suppose they were some of the first ‘indie’ films I saw, and weren’t like anything else I’d seen yet. And like LiT their soundtracks are fantastic.
Like many teens of the 2000s Garden State introduced me to The Shins - and they were pretty mindblowing. 'New Slang' is probably still one of my favourite songs of all time. I have such a clear memory of listening to the song on one of my first solo drives as a P-plater and just feeling all that independence and taking in the scenery; rain and autumn leaves. I remember feeling at the time, ‘this is pretty special’. Driving has lost a lot of that romance for me, but the song hasn’t - Dani
Notorious B.I.G. - 'Juicy'
Movies are a massive part of growing up. I think it’s probably because it was one of the first places that your parents would let you go without them (and also you could pash once the movie started).
The other day I rewatched Dead Poet’s Society. I had no idea how influential that film was on me when I was growing up. The passion with which Keating spoke about poetry, and the disdain for textbooks and conventional thinking probably informed more of what I do each day than I realised.
I was never a big fan of Dangerous Minds though, it felt too earnest. However, I did have a chuckle to myself the other day when I used 'Juicy' to teach similes in a Year 7 poetry class. I felt a bit Michelle Pfeiffer. It’s interesting too because I found Biggie much later. My friends loved him and at the time, I just didn’t get it. Considering this song is is over 20 years old, I was pretty impressed that the kids still love it - Geoff
M83 - 'Graveyard Girl'
Haha excellent work getting to the kids through rap music. I couldn’t wrap this up without including a track from M83’s 2008 album Saturdays = Youth. The album is dripping with nostalgia. It feels like the soundtrack to John Hughes’ entire back catalogue, with themes of first love, alienation, adventure, hope and hopelessness. I was a 90s kid and a 2000s teenager, but these songs takes me back to the 80s childhood I never had. And Molly Ringwald.
I remember 'Graveyard Girl' getting a lot of play on the radio and each time I heard it, just thinking ‘wow’. That spoken word line perfectly describes the angst of youth. I may have been 21 when I heard this track but it took me right back to the darkness and loneliness and heightened emotions you feel as a teenager. Plus those synths, such feels! - Dani
Smashing Pumpkins - '1979'
Those drums! I remember listening to M83’s Saturdays = Youth album once and not being drawn to it. I think it was more about what was going on in my life at the time (again a heartbreak) and I gravitated to music I already knew. Man, I listened to a lot of The National at the time.
I saw Billy Corgan play at a festival a few years ago and it kinda ruined the images I had in my mind of the band. '1979' was such a thumping song, so full angst and euphoria and it reminds me that the feeling of teen angst isn't owned by any generation.
Almost every image from the film clip is about being a teenager. I still remember being so excited by the prospect of crashing an American house party and have a band playing in the lounge room, and walking around with a red, plastic cup. I even love the ‘wind hand’ part. How great was it when you finally got a license (or knew someone with a car). Man.
The end of the film clip also reminded me that when you’re 17 you can be kind of a dick - Geoff
Collarbones - 'Teenage Dream'
Oh man, this is too funny. I also went through a break-up in 2008 and had The National on repeat for like 12 months. How unoriginal are we. Boxer was a pretty life-changing album.
I also dreamed of going to a house party with red cups. I think it finally happened in my 20s.
Very good point about angst not being something for a particular age or time in our lives. It’s something we feel all our lives, but it’s funny how it’s associated with teens, withdrawn and closed off in their bedrooms.
There’s been a lot of talk of the confusion and loneliness young people feel, but there’s also beauty and excitement and hope and possibility. So I wanted to end on a positive note - and bring us into the present day - with Collarbones. Their album Die Young is full of teen nostalgia; the crushes and euphoria and youthful energy. Teenage Dream is a good example of that intense desire and one track mindedness you have in love, not just as a young person but at any point in time - Dani.
Wilcannia Mob - 'Down River': Fantastic song Morganics helped on. A bunch of kids tell stories about what they do in a small country town.
White Stripes - 'We’re Going to be Friends': Kinda twee, kinda awesome
Green Day - 'Longview': I think I included this one just because their careers adviser said it would be a Green Day in Hell before they made anything of their band.
Kanye West - 'Homecoming': Could have been one of many early Kanye songs but this one is all about coming back to the place formed who you are and it kicks arse.
MGMT - 'Time to Pretend': I remember driving around late at night with friends and us all singing along to this song. I was deep in break-up mode and in a pretty dark place but occasionally there were moments of pure ecstasy and this was one of them.
Youth Lagoon - 'July': Perfect little snippet of young love lost (jeez, I gotta get a new theme) but it ends with such hope. Had this song on repeat for a while
Bitch Prefect - 'Bad Decisions': Self-explanatory
Geoff Orton is the founder of Writers Bloc. He's also a teacher and a Boston Celtics tragic.