Elly McDonald


COVID-19 time-filler games – 20 formative LPs from the age of vinyl

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Are we doing the 20 album covers thing?

Damn straight we are πŸ˜Š

Day 1

My dad grew up with Fats Waller, Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Mills Brothers, Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte. Then in the 60s he fell for the Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops. Then 60s soul deep immersion. In my family, we could sing every track on this LP. And we did, before I accidentally left it behind at an acting class, in 1979, and it was never seen again πŸ’ƒπŸŽΆπŸŽ€

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Day 2

Yes, it’s the Beatles, white album. It’s just not very photogenic πŸ’š

My mum had/has a close friend named Margie Dobson, and in the 60s we’d spend a couple of weeks every summer at Margie’s parents’ bungalow in beautiful Port Noarlunga. The summer The Beatles white album came out, Cathy and I spent endless hours acting out Rocky Raccoon, with dialogue, in the Dobson’s front yard. We were also performed Bungalow Bill at max volume. The neighbours must have missed themselves laughing. I was besotted with While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

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Day 3
Dad finally got to travel overseas, a 6 (8?) week business trip to North America at age 40. In Detroit he stopped to watch a man playing bongos at the foot of an elevator. He applauded. The man stopped and said, “You buy for me.” He meant the bongos set. Dad politely demurred. The man stood up. He was very big. “You BUY FOR ME.” Dad froze, then said: “You want bongos? Here’s bongos”. Then he rapped out da-dada-da-da DA-DA

Not sure if this was before or after seeing Ike and Tina live but I suspect after. Ike and Tina emboldened him. For sure, they enlivened many a night at our Adelaide home thereafter.

On our family Fiji holiday, just before Dad’s terminal diagnosis, I sang Proud Mary on a cruise ship. I taught it to Steve the cruise singer, Ike and Tina’s version. Dad tapped his foot along and nodded.


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Day 4

When I think Sticky Fingers, I think of my friend John Dickins. I remember John doing smutty school-boy faces as he explored the cover. I remember singing and dancing to Brown Sugar and Dead Flowers. Morbidly, Sister Morphine became a standard in my singing repertoire. Love ya John


Is it Day 5?

Cheating ‘cos this is a box set. I didn’t think I’d find an image of the actual set but I did.

In this case I think no explanation needed?

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Day 6

I was going to post this even before reading the long Comments strand on my FB friend Tana Douglas’s post about the movie Rocketman. Tana worked with Elton for four years and hated the movie. So did many of her colleagues who knew the man.

Movie aside, the LP that spawned the hit was a revelation. So melodic. Such a beautiful voice. So moving.

And what a great-looking band 😁


Day 7

My parents saw Johnny Cash with June Carter, Statler Brothers playing support, some time in the late 60s. I don’t know if Dad had been a fan before but a fire started that night.

In my very brief stint as a venue Stage Attendant I told a Johnny Cash tribute show performer I was more than capable of joining him on stage and singing every number. He looked aghast. I think he thought I meant it. I did.

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Feeling a little sluggish as I lounge in bed. Time for a mood lift – Frank.

Formative vinyl LPs day wherever we’re at

You Make Me Feel So Young. Another LP my dad gifted me πŸ’–


Day 8

I have just read an email from my aunt in Paris, on her birthday.

The rawness, the passion – I love my aunt, and I love Janis, and I’d never connected the two before.

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Day 8 again

I’m deliberately shying away from posting the bleedin obvious – Slade, T Rex, Bowie, Sinatra – but I can’t ignore my mile-wide theatrical streak, or my love of low pop cultcha.

There was an LP with a long parody of Macbeth’s ‘Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow’ soliloquy, which I took seriously, but fortunately I can’t recall or locate that LP and my sister does not remember it at all.

I took two of the songs on Phantom seriously: the fuck you song ‘The Hell of it’, and ‘Old Souls’, which remains for me a beautiful ballad.

Also, the art director for Brian DePalma’s film was Sissy Spacek’s husband, Jack Fisk, who graciously gave me a day of his time in L.A., introduced me to guacamole, invited me on set to watch a big budget movie being filmed, even allowed me to watch the rushes with the senior crew.

I was 17. Jack Fisk remains my template of a desirable man. I believe he and Sissy are still together. God bless πŸ’š


Day 9

Pushing through the market square,
So many mothers sighing
News had just come over,
We had five years left to cry in

News guy wept and told us,
Earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet,
Then I knew he was not lying

I heard telephones, opera house, favorite melodies
I saw boys, toys, electric irons and T.V.’s
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there
And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people
And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people
I never thought I’d need so many people

A girl my age went off her head,
Hit some tiny children
If the black hadn’t a-pulled her off,
I think she would have killed them

A soldier with a broken arm,
Fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac
A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest,
And a queer threw up at the sight of that

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlor,
Drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine,
Don’t think you knew you were in this song

And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you’re beautiful, I want you to walk

We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got

We’ve got five years, what a surprise
Five years, stuck on my eyes
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got

We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got

We’ve got five years, what a surprise
Five years, stuck on my eyes
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got

Five years
Five years
Five years
Five years

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: David Bowie

Five Years lyrics Β© Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management

All The Young Dudes was written as part of this song suite too


Day 10

My grandfather was blessed with the best neighbours ever. A Swiss family – hell let’s name and cheer – the Prossers were Lutheran church-goers, choir singers, handy dad and mum who baked, kind, generous, steady people, daughters much the same age as Cathy and me. We loved them.

Anne and Elizabeth were ahead of us on things teen girl. They introduced us to T Rex, and to Slade.

Thanks to Anne and Elizabeth, when I’m sad… I slide 😎

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'T.REX'


Day 11 I think

“Tell me, where do the children play?”

My sister’s friend Becky was obsessed with this one. We also owe Becky Joan Armatrading.

Cat Stevens has a tough kernel.



Day 13 – my birthday πŸŽ‚ (59 candles, count ’em)

For my 18th birthday my sister gave me two LPs, or maybe one officially and my parents officially gave me the other.

I had some new clothes that fit and we danced and danced. Our friend Hedda laughed and said she loved the way Cathy and I danced together.

Blondie, Parallel Lines. Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Armed Forces.

Day 14

Cathy was going out with Phil and I could listen to a song called Witchy Woman without cracking up

Not to mention Journey Of The Sorceror


Can it be Day 15?

Surely this one needs no explanation but: my sister was a Surf Beach Queen but I was kinda intrigued by the Sharpies thing.

It was usual for PLC girls c.Year 9 to go to formal Dancing Class, to learn to waltz and foxtrot, usually with Scotch College boys.

I danced the waltz and foxtrot in 5″ high platform shoes.

I wore a micro t-shirt (AND IT FIT) and had a crush on a boy whose surname was LeLievre. He was a beautiful honey-blond Ken Doll who wore a Sharpie cardigan with those horizontal stripes.

I practised writing my married name and realised we were incompatible: Ellylelielelielelieleliele…………..

Image may contain: one or more people, possible text that says 'LIVING IN THE 70'%'

Day 16? (What day? What week? What life? NOT Supertramp day 😳)

Slade Alive is way more cool and I did see them live; but I’ll put this greatest hits collection. I wore out the needle.

At age 13 I sported a Dave Hill fringe, cut by my very own hands, immensely unflattering to my very round face. (Was it flattering on Dave? Discuss.)

I dreamt that one day Noddy Holder would be a washed-up rock star and I’d deliver milk bottles to his doorstep, then tentatively (yet decisively) venture inside to tut-tut at the mess and set his life in order.

Luckily for Noddy Holder, he’s done a fine job managing his own life, and found himself a hard-headed music-loving wife without resorting to pathos or bathos.


Day 17 – Easter Sunday

I roamed the Adelaide house singing this from woe to curtains down. My dad would mimic me, with tiny mincing dance moves and piping voice.

Me doing Ian Gillan was a scream. Not.

Happy Easter


Day 18

Gavin was a colleague of my dad’s who visited for dinner and tried to convince Cathy Jethro Tull were not appalling. When 12 y.o. Cathy out-argued him he purchased this LP and foist it on her (just, why?)

I had to listen to it a few hundred times to confirm in my mind Cathy’s opinion.

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Day 19. Nearly done, folks

Our friend Mary was a moderately conventional leggy blonde babysitter in the 60s, then studied art at Flinders Uni, turned boho, rocked up at our Melbourne home in some kind of I Dream Of Jeannie outfit, with a much younger, dissolute lover, and a copy of *this*.

She has taught me so much about living life in colour, as an adventure.

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'Patti Smith Group RADIO Ξ•Ξ€Ξ—Ξ™ΞŸΞ‘Ξ™Ξ‘'

Friends, I have a quandary.

For my final Formative Vinyl LP, Day 20, I was wracking my brain for something from my late teens when a memory was prompted yesterday by an FB Suggested Friend pop-up.

Trouble is, it was an Evil Memory.

I was troubled enough that I wrote it down, but I do not want to loose into into my current world. Although it’s back already.

So: I am going to do two alternative endings – a Dark Side vinyl memory and a Shine On memory.

This is the Shine One one:

Age 17. Los Angeles 1978, Beverley Hills. Raquel Welch smiles at me in a beauty salon. The son of my guesthouse owner has a blue and silver chevy. Oh, The Cars πŸ’


Day 20, alternative version (see previous post) – the Dark Side.

This week FB popped up a Suggested Friend, a Friend of a Friend, that made me look twice. The name and face were not familiar but I felt unease.

It took a few days for the penny to drop. This was the least comedic of my crushes, the one from when I was 17 cusp 18, from a brief few months when I used to take a train at night several nights a week to smoke dope in a dealer’s poolroom, listening to Lou Reed and Frank Zappa vinyl, just to be near this… boy? Young man? Troll?

He was a tall snot-coloured lump, putty-coloured or colorless eyes and hair. I was never fatter and never felt more despised.

“It hurts me to see you hanging around him,” my friend Malcolm told me. “You’re worth a thousand times more than he is.” (Malcolm died young, a casualty of alcohol and drugs.)

After the drug dealer made a cutting remark I quit, stone cold. Within weeks I was spinning discs at university radio 3MU and within months I was interviewing rock stars.

I still can’t hear Satellite of Love without a curling lip.


Author: Elly McDonald

Australian-born, with English mother, has lived in several Australian cities and in London. Travelled widely. Way way back when, published widely as a poet and short story writer. For the first 20 years of my working life I worked as an entertainment journalist, publicist, PR consultant and in advertising and media agencies. In the second 20 years, I worked in marketing roles at non-profit organisations then retrained as a teacher, primarily teaching English to non-English speaking, newly-arrived refugees. Also did miserable McJobs, and a long, happy stint at an art gallery.

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