The funny thing about Edwin's rather esoteric
posting (for me, anyway) was that it was in fact three birders, currently racing
around Victoria in the twitchathon, who introduced me to the wonderful world of
music that lay beyond the reaches of the pop charts. This was the early 80s,
when I was 12 or 13, and the music today would fall under the unfortunate
misnomer of "alternative rock". Back then, I guess, it was punk.
These days, I have two main obsessions in life. Of
course, being a birder, as I was going through school, all I wanted to do when I
grew up was watch birds, so I thought I'd do a zoology degree or some such.
(Now, of course, I realise that I'd probably have ended up spending my life
grubbing in the soil for invertebrates.) Anyway, my brain wasn't very technical,
and my maths and science marks were pretty atrocious, but I had a way with
words, and eventually the words won.
By the time I finished my BA, I'd started writing
about music for the local street press, which graduated to Rolling Stone and a
bunch of other youth-oriented publications. These days I'm back at uni - I
delivered a lecture on music writing at QUT in August - and I've just submitted
a music-related proposal to undertake an MA next year.
Back to birds then. The point I want to make is
that to me, birders and birding was already pretty cool, and the fact that the
first birders I met had damn good taste only amplified that (if you'll pardon
the pun). But it also has to be said that a lot of what I listened to back then
was a great antidote to years of getting my head kicked in for indulging in such
a "sissy" hobby.
I have to say, all that aside, I doubt that a
soundtrack of rock stars is likely to convert too many youngsters. No record
company would release it in such a format - at least in part because birding
isn't likely to form part of any record company's marketing strategy in the near
future. They're not known for their largesse.
Convincing a bunch of bands to record a benefit
album on behalf of our endangered species, however, isn't an entirely
far-fetched prospect. Such compilations have been done before: the Surfrider
Foundation put together an album a few years ago under the banner Music for our
Mother Ocean (uuueegh), with artists including Soundgarden, silverchair, the
Ramones and many others. (I'm aware that a large proportion of this list won't
have a clue who I'm talking about, but anyway...) I suppose whether or not those
who bought the album did so for the music or the cause or both is immaterial -
it raised money, and probably a little awareness too.
My feeling is that there's a birding gene waiting
to be located, and you either have it or you don't. It's not the sort of thing
that can be readily sold as "cool", whatever that means, but I think most kids
do care about endangered species, and if a benefit album could be put together,
I'd be all for it.
Oh, lastly, I can't resist adding my favourite
bird-referencing lyric, by an obscure American outfit called The Meat Puppets,
from Arizona: "There's nothing at the top but a bucket and a mop, and an
illustrated book about birds". This beautiful song ("Plateau") was one of three
Meat Puppets tunes covered by Nirvana on their famous MTV Unplugged
Hope all this hasn't been too out-there for some of
Edwin Vella wrote:
Has anybody heard Fat Boy Slim's new song "Bird
Of Prey"?. Well this and a few other songs including that Twitchers anthem "I
like Birds" from the Eels should form part of a compilation for those who
like birds. An official release of this compilation album could be
jointly produced between Birds Australia and a good Australian record
company to bring this out. It could feature a range of music - folk, rock,
techno etc. This could be away to entice young birdos in our facinating hobby
and see birding as a cool thing. The cover of the CD could feature some of
Australia's rare birds. Some of the proceeds could be donated to major
Bird conservation projects. This is just a thought.
Has anybody other suggestions of what other songs
could go into this album?