“Dirty Old Town” by the Pogues to me is like a memory of a memory of a memory. Now when I hear it, like so many songs on my Ipod, it reminds me of my time travelling in Australia. This one in particular makes me think of the time I spent in the outback. I had a job on a cattle station that was the most inspiring time of my life. Looking back it feels like it was another me that was there, like in another life. It was so peaceful and so easy living on the cattle station. It was hours from the nearest shop and down a long red dirt road that got cut off in the wet. Everything was simpler when I was there. I did my work, listened to music and went walking or just took the time to look at the land around me. It was so flat and red the land, but the station I worked on had beautiful gardens that were taken care of and beautiful bright red leafed trees. There were horses everywhere and a family of turkeys than ran free around the station. They used to all line up and sit on the fence at dusk and look towards the sinking sun. There was one large milking cow that kept climbing over the cattle grid into the garden to eat the flowers and bushes in the garden that I had to keep chasing out. At night time the stars in the sky were so abundant and so bright I used to sit outside the little caravan I slept in and wonder at them. There were often dry lightening storms and I used to sit outside in the middle of the night watching them too, often recording the sky for several minutes to catch a strike of lightening. The most at peace I have ever felt was hanging out washing on the lawn facing the great expanse of land before me and the setting sun.
One weekend, myself, Laura (an Irish backpacker) and Maggie (an Aussie Ringer) went on a four hour road trip from one cattle station to another. The trip there was fun in the way only girls can have. Maggie, the Aussie Ringer had an eclectic mix of songs on her Ipod from Dolly Parton to Calvin Harris to Bob Marley to Drapht (randomly hilarious Australian hip hop) to Kim Carnes to Gotye . Out of the blue “Dirty Old Town” came on. I have no recollection of where I had heard the song before. I am not entirely sure that I actually had, but the song touches some old part of me. The Irish music, the melody, the lyrics, they are so familiar to me. I knew all of the words instantly and sang it as though I had sung it a hundred times before. The song suits the country. It is apt for the dry bush and cowboy life of the Australian outback, it reminds me of the small country town in Scotland I was born in, it reminds me of dark nights and fires, it reminds me of other times, before Australia, before my life now. At the time it made me feel homesick, but even now when I am home, it makes me feel like I am reminiscing about a time long ago. It makes me feel a happy kind of sad. I think fondly of my time in Australia and of the two girls I spent time with and I have many more memories of them from many different songs.
Sometimes I can be driving in the car and a song will come on and it will take me back there and right back to that time and place and the way I felt then. What a wonderful thing the memory is, a song, a word, or a thought and you replay a little part of your life and see what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt once more, but as a different person who is thinking fondly of an old friend.