Soundtrack To My Youth – Part 7 (Final)


Reflecting back over the past seven days on how music has been a soundtrack to my journey has been an enjoyable experience.  I chose to focus on the formative years in my life, from becoming a teenager up to the time I left Europe to migrate to Australia as a young man. It’s now 2016 and I have moved on from much of that music, while I still enjoy listening to it occasionally, the records that I have kept are now mostly gathering dust in an old milk crate. I keep telling myself ‘they are collectors items’, judging by the amount of dust they are collecting, I think I might be right!

These days I get to travel for my work and this has opened up my ears to new aural experiences.  Music to me is a bit like food, I get bored with the same tastes and I love to experiment with ingredients. So my current musical tastes now include Pansori from Korea, Gamelan from Java and Fado from Portugal.  My travel souvenirs always include a recipe and some local music.

My car radio is now permanently stuck on the classical music station and I am contemplating getting a cardigan! No … wait, that doesn’t sound right.  Forget the cardigan! I also love the fact that, thanks to the internet, I am also discovering and listening to contemporary classical western music.  Mind you, of late I have been listening to a lot of 70’s music again,  that is 1770, in Bach I trust!

But best of all are the days when I wake up to the sound of Philip Glass, played by my wife on the piano,  I know that the world is ok!

Morgan Schatz Blackrose plays Phillip Glass’s – Metamorphosis I

Soundtrack To My Youth – Part 6

In a new ancient land

It’s 1983 and I am having to speak English all of the time but that’s good, because now I can!  Three years earlier I had packed my bags, plus one wooden box filled with records, and moved to Australia. I did this all by myself, I left my mother and my younger brother in Switzerland, promising, that I would do all I could to ensure them a visa to migrate as well.  They would join me five years later. I remember my English teacher in Switzerland telling me, that once you dreamt in another language you had mastered it.  It actually only took me about three months to have my first English language dream, I was amazed!  Mind you, I still couldn’t understand a bloody thing.  I think it was more a case of culture shock, rather than me being a language genius.  Besides, when I got off the plane in Melbourne, I first thought that I had travelled to the wrong country. As far as I could work out, no one spoke any recognisable English here!  Australian lingo was a long shot from the nice Oxford style English they tried to teach me in the evening school back in Switzerland.

One of my first jobs was as a delivery driver for a French bakery, the place was run by an erratic, always hung-over French man who simply gave me the job, because I wasn’t an aussie.  Suited me just fine plus, I learned to drive a small truck on the wrong side of the road in a big new city.  What could possibly go wrong!  Besides managing to have a small crash on my first day, all went well! In fact I really loved the job, I was out for most of the day driving around and taking in my new world.  And then there was the car radio, I discovered a small public station, that was obviously the cities lefty voice.  It not only helped me to hone my language skill, I also received an education in humanitarian issues.  And if it wasn’t for 3CR I may have never have heard of Ivor Cutler, the great Scottish poet.  I had been a reggae fan for a number of years but there was one sound I had never heard of before; contemporary Koori music. A mixture of reggae, rock and protest music all held together with the ancient sound of a didgeridoo!  This was a real eye and ear opener for me.

Melbourne had a great live music scene and I was fortunate enough to live only 5 staggers and 3 rolls from a wonderful music venue, run mostly by Maori bikies.  It was here that I discovered my soundtrack for most of the early 1980’s.  I saw this band a couple of times and loved their energy, commitment and passion.  No Fixed Address are now considered an iconic Australian band and this song is bonafide Aboriginal anthem.

No Fixed Address ‘We have survived’

Soundtrack To My Youth – Part 5

As far as I was concerned, the late 1970’s were all about long music and loud hair and I wasn’t having a bar of it!  My way of thinking went something like this; “you musicians  want to be so modern then why do you still have long hair and insist on using a guitar?!”  Judgmental …. me …. never! Many of my friends were into bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and even Status Quo.  (I was nearly responsible for killing the entire band in 1992 but that’s another story) It’s not that I didn’t like rock music, it was just a bit too predictable for me and I couldn’t be bothered to spend time or my money on that kind of music.

My outlook was towards the future.  I wanted to leave my home town, Switzerland, Europe, in fact I wanted to travel to another planet! Did I mention that I was also fascinated with astronomy and space travel? My interest in the possibilities of intergalactic travel led me to discovered a new kind of music that would allow me to do this, at least in my head.  By the end of the 1970’s I was spending time in my own alternative universe thanks to bands like Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd, Jane, The Far East Band and basically anything that I could find on the Brain record label. And no, I never inhaled! I just loved the sound of synthesisers and I am absolutely thrilled that these days, I can have my own space music lab in my room.  In fact, I carry my synthesiser on my phone.  How cool is that!

As the decade came to an end, I was gearing up to leave Europe an start a new life in Australia; I was moving to Melbourne!  My music choice today reflects that transition from a provincial town to the big city on the other side of the world.  I have this recording in my collection as a glow in the dark 12 inch single, its a old party trick favourite. If you happen to come around to my place to listen to music, you will be treated to this ‘light’ spectacle!

Kraftwerk ‘Neon lights’

Soundtrack To My Youth – Part 4

The freedom ride! 

The jeans have lost their flair inserts, they are straight legged again, however they have gained a couple of safety pins.  Not to hold them together, but to make a mild punk statement.  I did try to pierce my face with one but that hurt!  So on to the trousers they went.  ‘You look ridiculous!’ my Mother exclaimed, ‘and what will the neighbours say? They all know I am a good seamstress!’ She shook her head and walked away.

It’s 1978, I had been to London and Punk was the order of the day, albeit a neat and tidy order in provincial Switzerland! In fact, I couldn’t imagine living in a more boring place than where I was.  As far as I was concerned, absolutely nothing ever happened in my town.  I needed to get out. I wanted to see the world, meet new people and have adventures …. but first I had to do the dishes.  Then my best friend Cello got his car licence and a nice blue Opel Ascona.  Freedom had arrived!  Now we would be able to get out of town, cruise the streets and be men of the world.  The car came equipped with a neat eight track cassette system and half a dozen old tapes.  Percy Sledge’s Greatest Hits being the best of the bunch.  On the day Cello got his license, he picked me up at around six in the evening and off we went.  Oh the feeling of independence, the old cassette deck was turned up to 11 as we cruised around the hills singing along with Percy.

And then we crashed! Coming round a sharp bend we hit the side of the road, the car spun around and headed straight for the side of the mountain.  We were stopped by a long wooden fence, of which we cleaned up about 10 metres, a wooden plank finally smashed through the front windscreen, narrowly missing us both.  The car eventually stopped, but  Percy Sledge was still singing ‘When a man loves a woman’.  We turned to each other, both looking pale but thankfully unhurt.  We turned Percy Sledge off and got out of the car.

And that was the end of our great freedom for a while; drivers licence and car both gone in the one day! So today’s song is not Percy, he still gives me an uneasy feeling when I hear him!

In 1978 I listened to a lot of different music, but this track seems to sum up an eventful year in an unremarkable town.  (Besides, It has a camera on the front cover!)

Elvis Costello ‘Pump it up’

Soundtrack To My Youth – Part 3

Music can be a time capsule, but the meaning of the song or tunes also evolve with time.  I have chosen to trace some key events in my earlier life, from growing up in Switzerland through to moving to Australia in my early 20’s.  This soundtrack to my youth is a seven part series.

We could be Heroes! 

I still believe this!  When I started to write this online exposé of my musical tastes, this was the first piece of music that came to mind. I have never really been a fan of a particular band or artist (OK I admit there was that episode in the early 1970’s with The Sweet but please don’t tell anyone!).  What I mean by being a ‘fan’ was, that I had to have every track the artist ever made and needing to know all of the background gossip of his or her life.

The closest thing I got to being a ‘fan’ is how I regard David Bowie.  The funny thing is that lyrics are an important part of Bowie’s work and yet when I discovered his work in 1977, my English was still at kindergarten level.  That didn’t matter, it was the sound and vision (pun intended) that got me hooked.  Heroes, was famously recorded at Hansa Studio by the Wall in West Berlin. The music also reflected my other musical obsession at the time, progressive German electronic music.  Looking back, the album had it all: music by Bowie, recorded in Germany, black and white photography on the album cover by Japanese photographer, Masayoshi Sukita and the LP was mixed in Montreux Switzerland. I’ve always loved this kind of serendipity.

A couple of years later, in 1979, I would read Christiane F. ‘Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo’, in which Bowie’s music was an integral part.  Best of all, David Bowie also released a German and French version of this song.  Now I could finally get the lyrical brilliance as well.  It’s a song that transports me straight back to being a teenager, and also reminds me about my early years in Australia. It still fills me with joy.

So while I am still not a ‘proper’ fan, David Bowie really is my Hero!

David Bowie ‘Heroes’

Soundtrack To My Youth – Part 2

The flared jeans that I am wearing used to be straight legged pants but I pestered my mum to insert some panels, so now I had multi-coloured flairs.  This way I could truck down the road like all the other cats.  Mind you, I wasn’t allowed to wear platform boots and my hair had to stay at a respectable length, but at least I was able to grow my record collection.

In 1975 music became a form of travel for me.  Part of that travel was a regular journey to the local record bar, where I could listen to the latest vinyl offerings.  I started to take risks and began moving away from the glam rock and top 40 boxes and found myself gravitating  toward the funk and soul section. There I found records with artist names that I had never heard of and exotic looking album covers; bands like Osibisa, who had a flying elephant on the cover!  This had to be worth a listen.  So I gave up on Schlager music and became a Soul fool!  The only thing the two had in common was the letter S!

Today’s choice is a cracker soul tune by William DeVaughn, from a bargain basement original, as advertised on TV, K-Tel record.

I still have a pair of flared jeans in the wardrobe I just know they’ll make a comeback. As for the long hair, that is another story!

William DeVaughn ‘Blood is thicker than water’

Soundtrack To My Youth – Part 1

Music can be a time capsule, but the meaning of the song or tunes also evolve with time.  I have chosen to trace some key events in my earlier life, from growing up in Switzerland through to moving to Australia in my early 20’s.  This soundtrack to my youth is a seven part series.

Becoming a teenager was all about small rebellions and one way to cause a ripple in my environment was to listen to my own choice of music.  I wanted to listen to stuff that wasn’t on the family radio.  In about 1972 my mother purchased a record player and we had a handful of LP’s, mainly easy listening and some light Jazz.  I remember that one of my favourite records was Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”.  I played that and Louis Armstrong a lot.

Then something big happened, I got my own radio! Now I could listen to what I wanted whenever I wanted.  Mind you there wasn’t much on the radio in well behaved Switzerland in those days. There was the weekly Hit Parade, a must listen if you wanted to keep up with the kids at school.   Listening to music, was rarely about lyrics for me, as the music I listened to was mostly in English and I couldn’t understand anything beyond ‘yea yea’ and ‘I love you’.  But I could understand emotions and feelings,  most of all I got rock and roll. In 1974, I was 14 years of age, I discovered an American GI radio station from Berlin on my AM radio. Every week it presented an hour long rock n’ roll revival show, complete with old radio jingles from the 50’s.  I was hooked! One of the first LP’s I bought, and still have, is a Little Richard album which has a selection of hits on it plus some more obscure tracks.  I bought it for the two recognisable hits, but for me the stand out track was this slow bluesy, soulful number.  It also paved the way for my Soul music obsession which was to follow.

From an early age, music became a form of travel for me.  This had something to do with my mother who started to travel in the mid 1970’s.  Freshly divorced she went on to explore the world beyond the iron curtin and travelled to Hungary and Romania in 1973, returning back with folk music recordings.  This was a real eye opener form me.  There was a world outside my window waiting to be explored.  An idea that is still with me. My dear mother has since passed away but I still carry her philosophy that everyone is potentially good at heart.

Little Richard ‘Don’t deceive me’


Merci Marc!

There he was, climbing up a wall with a ladder to get a better view of what was on the other side. A quote stated something along the lines of ‘there are times you have to change the viewpoint to get the right image’.  This small image of photographer Marc Riboud demonstrating how he created some of his iconic photos, struck a chord with me.  I was in China visiting the 2010 exhibition: THE INSTINCTIVE MOMENT – A Retrospective, at the Shanghai Art Museum.  I was aware of his more famous photos, the Eiffel Tower painter, the woman placing the flower in the gun and the fabulously framed antique shop dealer photo from Beijing. These images by the renowned Magnum photographer were all there to see.

Shanghai was about to host the World Expo and the city was busy’ cleaning up’ its urban spaces.  This translated to, among other things, the destruction of many old, traditional neighbourhoods, the so-called Longtangs.  The homes were bulldozed and the occupants moved into new high-rise buildings.

Prior to seeing the Riboud exhibition, I snuck into an old Longtang neighbourhood that was in the process of being demolished.  To my surprise, there were still people living among the rubble, refusing to move. I spend a couple of hours taking photos and got out before I ran into trouble with the local authorities.

Having seen Riboud’s photos, many taken in China between 1957-2002, I kept thinking about that little photo of him looking over the wall.  This was a metaphor for me, to look beyond the obvious and to take some risks in my photography.  The next day I went back to the Longtang to take more photos.  As I wandered among the rubble, I saw it, a wall that prevented me from seeing what lay beyond it.  Instinctively I climbed it to look over.  The moment I had reached the top I saw a lone man cycling past a grand old house that was still standing. I lifted the camera and captured a photo that to this day I will remember as my Marc Riboud moment.

Merci Marc, you inspired me to focus closer on the moment and the emotions that can be found within that reality.

“Seeing is the paradise of the soul.”

Marc Riboud
(24.06.1923 – 30.08.2016)


‘Merci Marc’ by Roman W. Schatz, Shanghai 2010