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[Artist review] Tim Minchin

The Bard Babe

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I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about Tim Minchin, and while I do highly recommend his live album with the Heritage Orchestra if you want a jumping off point to get into his stuff, I wanted to talk more about the phenomenon of Tim Minchin. 


First off, for those who don't know him, Tim Minchin is an Australian comedy wannabe rock'n'roll star. He plays piano like an absolute legend, sings well enough to play Judas in celebrity Jesus Christ Superstar, and weaves words better than any other artist I know. Some of his songs are extremely political. He had well-known stances on social, environmental, and political issues, and he deals with these issues as a comedian, and as a musician. To know if it's your cup of tea, you have to listen to it. I know it is mine. But that's not every song he writes. He has written some of the cleverest, funniest, and most beautiful songs I've ever heard, and I have never stopped listening to them. I collect them, like old photographs, and they take up residence in the back of my mind until hearing them again dredges up some decade old moment like a sense memory.  


A lot of people get turned off Tim Minchin because they don't enjoy a particular song. Those people are missing out. 


I first encountered Tim Minchin in late primary school, I think, and I'm going to blame my older brothers, because my parents certainly never would have let me listen to him, what with all that foul language. But that first song I listened to was F#. It was utterly hilarious. It remains to be hilarious to this day. And at the time, as a violently passionate, eager young musician, it was even better. The song made the rounds of my friends, getting bluetoothed around the school and making all the musicians feel clever. It was the start of a long journey I had with Tim Minchin. 



I only realised tonight exactly how many experiences, how many moments, I have tied to Tim Minchin songs. I can practically map my life by them. 


Next up was in early high school. I'd already discovered the rest of Tim Minchin's works, the ones with swearing that made me feel rebellious, the ones with messages that made me feel righteous. I went on a tour to Germany with an orchestra, and the soundtrack of that trip, the sharpest memory on the tour bus, wasn't the rep we were playing, but my discovery of the utterly brilliant Matilda the Musical soundtrack. A double bassist I knew found out I liked Tim Minchin, and basically shoved the earphones in my ears. The whole soundtrack is amazing, and we listened to it, one earphone each, on every bus trip that tour. But the song that I still remember listening to for the first time? The one I want everyone to listen to? The School Song. It's brilliant. So clever. I listened to it several times over when I got it. 



So, still in high school. I had my first difference of opinion with my best friend over the song Storm. I adore that song, still do. Again, it's hilarious, but divisive. It also goes for nine minutes, so I won't link it here, but every time I walk into a minimalist house-including my brother's, where I'm currently cat sitting-lines from that song still reel through my head on repeat. 


Leaving high school behind, my other best friend makes her entrance. We lived in different colleges, but we played the same instrument, we played in the same orchestra on the weekends, and we both lacked wheels. So, we rode the bus in together, every weekend. And every weekend, we listened, one earphone each, to Tim Minchin. We exchanged songs. We nerded out over our favourites. We watched the live show she had on dvd, and have done a few times since. A gave her Thank You God, and she gave me The Good Book, which she adored mainly for the hoedown. Another friendship Tim Minchin provides the soundtrack to. 


Years later, living in the same house as that friend, we spent a night, me, her, her girlfriend, and our wonderful, utterly bogan housemate, blasting out Thank You God and seeing how many of the lyrics we could get. We did alright. 


Now we're back to Matilda. I went backpacking in my first year of uni, and while that friend had no idea who Tim Minchin was, we went and saw Matilda together. It was her first musical, and it was so much fun. He managed to wheedle his way in there. Of course. Can't have a significant life event without him. And that was when the song Quiet came into my life properly. Hearing it was amazing, but seeing it live was beautiful. I cried. Not hard to make me do. But I really cried in that song. I advise everyone on this site to go and listen to it. We're all the intended audience. 


And that's not the only musical he's written. He's also written Groundhog Day. It's very good. Listen to that whole album, because it's beautiful, and funny, and wholesome, and relatable, all at the same time. I recommend Nobody Cares, There Will Be Sun, and If I Had My Time Again, all for opposite reasons. It made this list because it was a musical I discovered with my last partner. It was our musical of the week for week 3, meaning it got played on loop every time we drove somewhere, until we knew all the lyrics to every song. 


Then we have White Wine in the Sun. This song isn't attached to any particular moment, though it conjures up plenty. Hanging out the washing on Christmas Eve. Sitting outside after Christmas Lunch, drinking white wine and just watching everyone, with my Dad. This song makes me cry every single time I hear it. I don't know if it's just hearing a father speak in such a raw way about his kid, about the promises being made, or because of my own personal relationship with my family, with the massive Christmases I have every year where my whole family comes together, or because I know how this makes my dad cry thinking of his own parents so far away in a different continent. But it's beautiful. 



One more. The song that brought me here tonight. Beauty. It's my sitting on my own in the evening drinking my way through a crappy bottle of red and just listening, song. It doesn't matter when I hear it. That's where I am. And everyone deserves to hear it. 



And that concludes my Tim Minchin walkthrough. He writes so much, and there's so much more than you expect, in every song. I missed so many amazing songs here, Tim Minchin classics, like Canvas Bags, If I Didn't Have You, Prejudice, all the rest. But I just realised how deeply entwined Tim Minchin's songs are with my life, not just his comedy songs-actually, them least of all-but his musicals, his few and far between ballads. Sorry this isn't a traditional album review, but what with spotify and the like, maybe it's better to make a playlist. Have my modern mixtape. 


Tim Minchin isn't everyone's cup of tea, but he certainly is mine. He's the soundtrack to some of my happiest moments, and some of my darkest. He snuck up on me. I never thought a comedian from Perth would permeate through my life like this, but without me even noticing, there he is. And I kind of just wanted to say thanks. 


Edited by The Bard Babe
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