My Sun

Each time I feel the drive kick in,
press me deep into my seat,
I watch the galaxy blur,
a vacuum folds over me,
obscuring my star,
my gorgeous light.

This nomadic life,
mining for diamonds
on Orion 7,
where the harsh light strips off skin,
desiccates flesh in minutes,
burns away life, entombs spirits
in deep, cavernous voids that glisten
with desperate hope,

or for gold on Djenne Minor
where blue light barely melts ice
on a good day,
where crystals form in still air,
or wherever the next job takes me –
leaves a void,
a lake of nothing that concentrates
with relentless certainty
until it becomes desolate;
all life evaporated.

I miss the sun,
out here among the stars
where gas burns blue,
burns red, orange,
burns with white fury,
yet never the same –
not like back on earth;
it’s just dead radiance.

Classic Singers 4 – Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly – this name is iconic in Australian music. I don’t know how well he is known in the rest of the world, but I can categorically state that this man is the consummate song-writer. He began his career in the late 70s as Paul Kelly and the Dots, before becoming Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls in the 80s, then on to Paul Kelly and the Messengers, before becoming simply Paul Kelly. The man is a legend! Do I sound like a fan? If was to nail down his genre I would say that he was folk / rock, but I don’t really like to use labels.

For me, his best album is Gossip, released in 1987, which has the great track Last Train to Heaven (sadly hard to get a good version on youtube) but he has released many, many more. Last Train, with its laid-back reggae inspired rhythm, didn’t make my five songs, but I encourage you look it up. Paul Kelly has been prolific so it has been difficult for me to finalise my top 5 (nothing new there).

I’ve left out Before Too Long, No You, Cities of Texas, Before the Old Man Died, Little Decisions, Adelaide, Song from the 16th Floor, From Little Things Big Things Grow. Suffice to say, where song-writing and story-telling is concerned, I don’t think there is anybody better.

The songs:

1. Careless – Taken from the album So Much Water So Close to Home, this is a gem of a folk/pop song with great use of the harmonica and some of his trademark fantastic lyrics. The rhythmic and melodic guitar intro sets up an easy-on-ear ride through the song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq7X_6PlilE

2. Dumb Things – This is perhaps Paul Kelly’s best known song outside Australia, taken from the soundtrack to the movie Young Einstein. An upbeat pop/rock song that start with a great drawn out harmonica over thumping drums. It’s worth a listen to hear a bit of his more lively music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWhj4sVeVD0

3. To Her Door – Taken from the album Under the Sun, this is a song about a man who wants to come home to his wife after a breakdown in their relationship because of drink. In many ways this is an uplifting song, inspiring hope that things can change. It has some good guitar work and great use of keyboards. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vzd_bcVDnJQ

4. They Thought I Was Asleep – What can I say? When I was researching this, I came across this song for the first time. It was from the Album Foggy Highway in 2005. I just listened, and re-listened, and listened again – it gave me goosebumps. This is one fantastic song, both musically and lyrically. If you aren’t emotionally involved in this song then I reckon there’s something wrong with you! Just my opinion. The harmonica work is, as usual, right on the mark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rf51r4kWgLI

5. The Execution – From Gossip. I love this song; I don’t know if others will, but it starts with a guitar over drums, and the starts along on a story of the assassin. In some ways it’s a ‘harsh’ song, but I just love the way it is put together, with no real chorus, and a number of changes of pace and then builds to a musical crescendo at the end. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wkR3ew2ZPo

Katie Jones

I thought I’d do something different and put some song lyrics up. This is called Katie Jones…enjoy.

Katie Jones

In winter 1989
Katie Jones made up her mind
She left Newcastle, didn’t look back
She packed her life into her car
Picked a random guiding star
To take her off life’s beaten track
She went off on search of destiny
Convinced herself it was meant to be

CHORUS
She rolled on down and empty road
Blinded by the low sun’s glare
On an endless journey to her home
To a place that was no longer there
Locked within recurring dreams
Wondering ‘bout what might have been
Had kissed him on that lonely night
When love had driven out of sight

She spent some vintage summer days
Picking grapes near Adelaide
She met a man from Nottingham
But he drank a lot and fooled around
While she worked herself into the ground
She longed to find a better man
To lift her life not bring her down
It was time to seek out distant shores

CHORUS

BRIDGE
She hit the Nullabor Plain
To the sound of Barnsey’s Last Frontier
She was on her own again
She headed west to Perth
Put her trust in the hand of Fate
And wondered what her trust was worth
She sat on Leighton Beach
Looking out across the sea
And muttered quietly to herself
‘There must be someone there for me.’

CHORUS

Classic Singers 3 – Kirsty MacColl

Wow. Picking 5 songs was difficult (once again), Kirsty MacColl had a smooth voice that moved effortlessly between notes and she is sadly missed. She started out in the charts with the single There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis, an upbeat 60’s inspired pop song, and from there carried on with the 60’s inspiration, before moving on to more 80’s music, doing folk music and then on to Latin rhythms at the end of her career. Whatever style she sang, she pulled it off.

One of her well-known songs is They Don’t Know, but I haven’t included it as I think Tracy Ullman’s 1983 version was better. In fact Tracy Ullman recorded a number of her songs during her short pop career, including Terry and You Broke My Heart in 17 Places.

Kirsty MacColl collaborated with Johnny Marr on Walking Down Madison another change of direction. Other songs that I considered but eventually left out of the 5 were Innocence, Free World, See That Girl, Angel, Days, Mother’s Ruin, My Affair, and All The Tears that I Cried. If anybody doesn’t know Kirsty MacColl then I suggest you find a copy of From Croyden to Cuba – this is a triple CD set of her work. I’m proud to have it in my collection.

On to the songs:

1. Can’t Stop Killing You – Written with Johnny Marr, this starts with simple stripped back intro with a guitar riff and some snare drums. Then it kicks into a full drum beat and bass halfway through the first verse. The foot-tapping compulsion is almost irresistible. Kirsty’s vocal overlay all of this evoking conflict and emotional frustration. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_Fvu0SQEOA

2. In These Shoes – Kirsty’s sense of humour comes through in spades in this song about a woman who is being chatted up by guys in what is probably a bar in Central America / Spain. The latin rhythm and her delivery are priceless, along with the trumpet solo. You may well have heard on adverts, a sure sign that its catchiness is a winner. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1w9XldkeKk

3. A New England – Written by Billy Bragg, this is the first song that I can remember hearing her sing. I think it’s pop at its best –a jangly guitar with a bass that is mixed to provide just right amount of ‘oomph’ to help it along. And it has the immortal lyrics ‘I saw two shooting stars last night. I wished on them, but they were only satellites. It’s wrong to wish on space hardware, I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care.’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4c2kO5ZE38

4. On the Beach – I love the upbeat vibe of this song. Kirsty MacColl’s harmonies soar ever upwards in this song, and the jangly guitar again gives this a great pop feel (a little bit of 60s influence I think!) And I relate to the subject matter, having moved from Stafford UK right around the world to Perth – and I spend a fair amount time on the beach too! Starting the day with a swim just makes the day. Going after work on a stinking hot day finishes is a perfect finish to the day. So, as you might see, anything about the beach is likely to appeal to me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EV5pNowizQ

5. Fairytale of New York – Can’t not include this. Her duet with Shane MacGowan and the Pogues is gorgeous. They play off each other to make a perfect Christmas song. I never tire of listening to this, it’s uplifting and I often rue the lack of Christmas Songs being released these days. I can’t much more than this. It’s a classic song that deserves to be played. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9jbdgZidu8

That’s all for now…

Previous Classic Singers
1. Susanna Hoffs https://anothergrumpycommuter.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/my-classic-singers-susanna-hoffs/
2. James Reyne https://anothergrumpycommuter.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/my-classic-singers-2-james-reyne/

Silence

 

There is only dark nothing

out here in the void;

just me, my cargo – emptiness.

 

The silence sometimes gets so loud

that I go deaf, before cryo kicks in,

oblivion becoming the new black.

 

The years have passed without me,

wincing at my arrival,

sighing at my departure.

 

Today I saw a supernova,

a blaze of glory unsurpassed

that I shared with – nobody.

 

I’ve seen the universe from edge to edge,

I know what time will bring;

there is only dark nothing.

My Classic Singers 2 – James Reyne

So who to pick after Susanna Hoffs? Well, I’ve made a bit of change of direction, and gender, for the second in this series. We travel half way around the world from Los Angeles to the east of Australia. James Reyne came to prominence as the lead singer of the band Australian Crawl. Aussie released their first single Beautiful People in 1979 and went on to become mainstay of the music scene through first half of the 80s having two No. 1 albums. James Reyne then carved out a solo career with his self-titled first album in 1987 and has carried on since.

He doesn’t have a silky smooth voice of many singers but he has a distinctiveness that remains in the memory and an ability to put a lot of, for want of a better word, angst and feeling into his performance. One of my memories of listening to him was when, in 1992, I was working in a warehouse doing the 4pm to 1am shift loading car exhaust part so on to trucks when we had Radio 1 on and his song Slave was echoing through the rafters. I don’t know whether James Reyne is likely to get played a lot outside Australia, but he deserves to.

So on to the 5 songs I have chosen:

1.    Slave  – This was from his Album Any Day Above Ground. It is a song that has laid back quality that allows him to use his voice to its best, in my opinion. The melody and verses move along nicely building to a catchy chorus. I go back to this one regularly and included it on my post 20 Songs to Relax to on a Hot Summer’s Evening. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBFdXqrs4sY

2.  Always the Way – I think this is a masterpiece from the 80’s – all 7:24 of it. A slower tempo than Slave, but it allows James Reyne to really shine as a vocalist. Add in to that one my favourite guitar solos as it builds towards the end after about 5 minutes.  Could also have made my list of 20 summer songs, but one per artist was enough! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh0qptEZq1g

3.  Counting On Me – A bit more of a classic aussie rock song than the first two.  There’s a lot more in this than just a catching guitar riff – basically great lyrics. An opportunity to use his voice in a more in your face way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NynsJdn3Gj0

4.   Downhearted– What a mellow song, with a good bit of 80s saxophone. Released in 1980 this song is one of the smoothest from Aussie Crawl with James Reyne in top form caressing the notes with suitable tension in his voice. Shame about the video, but hey this was 1980. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nap-gw171dw

5.   I struggles with choosing the 5th song. I thought about Things Don’t Seem, Unpublished Critics, and particularly The Boys Light Up, still the signature song for Aussie Crawl, and others. I thought it had to be one from Aussie Crawl. I had an upbeat number in mind until I came across Hootchie Guccie Fiorucci Mama. That sealed it for me. The piano intro is great, the lyrics great, shame that the mullet haircut is almost too much in the video, but this was the 80’s. This is a great showcase for James Reyne’s voice even though he looks half asleep. Nuff said. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yS2Ok3bjQz0

 

I hear people screaming ‘How could you have missed out Reckless?’ Yeah, I know, but something had to give, just like not using Dover Beach for Susanna Hoffs.

Next I am going to look at some singers who might have had a couple of songs but I couldn’t really find 5 that I wanted to talk about, or maybe it’ll be Graeme Bonnet, or Gerry Marsden, or Deborah Conway. I don’t know…too many decisions to make and I’m still really distracted by James Reyne’s  mullet – in awe of it in fact….it was pretty spectacular.

 

See ya

 

George

 

 

A Long Way From Anywhere

This is a poem about my time as a field assistant exploring for gold and diamonds in the Australian Outback – let me know if you enjoy it.

A Long Way From Anywhere

When I was a long way from anywhere
I watched the silent sun rise,
breathed in the chilled dawn air
still damp with early morning dew,
still, ever so still.

Out here I watched meteors burn
white-hot against the universe,
counted them like fiery sheep
that sparkled with a desperate light
leaving just some angel dust.

Once I sat in a quiet place,
eerie, warm and sultry
in the face of a biting wind,
a rugged cleft in land without
a right to have such stillness,
a place outside, a place removed,
filled with history overflowing
with ancient eyes that watched
from shadows of a luscious jungle
long since withered.

After my leisurely lunch they spoke,
said, ‘Move on, time’s up – go.
You don’t belong.’ No argument
from me, I simply gathered up
my sieves and sample bags, gave thanks
for their kind patience, then left,
grateful for that small respite from
winter’s vicious gale.

When I was a long way from anywhere
I drifted in and out of time,
collected moments of rare peace
in a land worn down, worn out
worn through.

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