It was strange to have a milestone birthday amidst lockdown. It was a full moon in Scorpio , a flower moon. It was a very reflective time. Of course I missed my mum and brother dearly along with other close family and friends who have moved on to other dimensions. I missed speaking to my mum on the phone, her voice, a simple “getting there love how are you?” From her raspy kind voice. I reminisced over much of the past in my mind without friends around to laugh with about all the falls and blunders, the folly, the romance, the hardship and lessons. I wondered about the future, about freedom, about art, about nation, about globalism, the economy, rising tensions, struggles, about the future of democracy and capitalism , about borders and the virus and the the dermatitis on my hands from constant soap, I wrote poems and songs and then scribbled most of it out, I had my doubts and then I played with my son and experienced a little of the wonder that fills his heart and mind and I was filled with faith in life, in human creativity , in problem solving and play, in our striving to be better, no matter how many times we fall over, there’s something there, living in spontaneity that gives me hope. We both love bubbles, we both love balloons, we both love guitars, we both love music, we both love flowers, we both love Bella, we both love our Mums, we both love chocolate cake and we both love hats . :)
Stupidity is measured by its followers.
Genius stands alone.
By the time an idea is consumed by the masses,
it is rehearsed and insincere;
a propaganda of sorts,
a replica of a replica,
it's watered down and impotent,
and capitalized -
the truth and genius are no longer with it,
they've cracked that shell with wings to fly -
museums and galleries drape their walls with dead skin.
So I've written, directed and edited my first feature length film, 'Hell is Light' - it's a feature length coming of age, arthouse, black comedy, psychedelic soap opera and music video.
I also composed the songs of the soundtrack with help from my good friends Dave Tweedie, Antoine Beillevaire aka Poussebouton, Dylan Curnow, Christian Pyle, Alex Mcleod and Brendan Lees.
It's been an epic adventure and steep learning curve.
I hope you all enjoy it.
I'll be applying to film festivals around the globe and will endeavour to screen it where ever possible.
If you're interested to learn more or have it screen in your town check out www.facebook.com/HellIsLight and drop me a line.
The premiere screening will be on Saturday 3rd November 2018 (2 PM Qld time) at New Farm Cinemas in Brisbane.
It will be a double bill with the short absurdist comedy film 'Matt Gaffney must die'.
We'd love to see you there.
Tickets at www.stickytickets.com.au
I wrote this on toilet paper this morning, feel free to wipe your arse with it.
To suffer is to be human; it is by nature inevitable, and therefore unremarkable in itself, but how we endure that suffering and how as innately creative beings we turn that suffering into imaginings of beauty and meaning - this for me has always been super-wonderful and has always enabled me to peer beyond the dark curtain of mortality that can obscure that ever-beautiful and fascinating spark of eternal creation.
The world is in a state of decay it is true, but every day is an opportunity to create dazzling beauty and meaning from entropy.
When in the face of the wind, the tenuous flame of mortality flickers uneasily, may the mind be comforted by ones absolute, inalienable at oneness with the singularity of all universal creativity.
May the simplicity of a slang word, an unusual question, a quick wit, a random act of kindness, the evolution of a birds colourful feathers and the wonder of spontaneity in dances of seduction forever remind you of the breathtaking and spectacular creative beauty that is the core of your very being.
Day 10 - 1992
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - 'Henry's Dream'
As mentioned in my previous post, my older and wildly charismatic brother passed away in 1991.
At his wake, a very cool and stylish outsider girl named Kipley, who was the older sister of one of my brother's good friends Courtney Mathieson, asked if she could give me a cuddle. We were both quite drunk at the time.
Soon enough we were kissing and the night turned into morning and no sleep had either of us had.
Kipley had lost her Dad a year earlier I think from memory, and we both did all we could to lose ourselves in the liberation and transcendence of passion and the mad old moon.
I was living in Sydney when we first met, studying at NIDA, but by the years end, I was back into the grit of Melbourne, whose muddy womb my brother's bones were now resting in.
Kipley was a total rock star. She'd lived in a squat in dirty old London and have travelled through Egypt on a camel.
She was four years older than me, she was wild and wise and I was her eager student.
She gifted me a book 'And the ass saw the angel' written by Nick Cave.
I fell in love. What an evocative writer this guy is. I loved the dark and dirty world he created. I loved the grotesque characters and his depiction of the monstrous behaviour of a town toward Cave's mute, il-favoured, innocent starry eyed lover. It is truly a beautiful book and so full of pathos.
I loved that I needed a dictionary with me at all times too, and not just any dictionary either, for this baby you needed The Complete Oxford.
Nick Cave's love of language was intoxicating.
I was hooked.
'Henry's Dream' came out not long after and was my new favourite kind of beauty.
It was dark and veiled in mystery.
Every track a stunning poem and performance delivered it seemed by an impassioned fallen angel, who stood lean and tall and suited in black, growling and barking and howling to the moon, and to the father who'd forsaken and abandoned him to suffer alone the stupidity and failings of man. These haunting songs seemed like moans from a burning pulpit of an old dilapidated and decaying church, on a rainy night amidst the most violent of storms.
The band sounded like thunder rolling in behind his lightening strikes.
But it was so much more than all that, there was heart and compassion, there was pathos and sincerity and longing.
"All the towers of Ivory are crumbling and the swallows have sharpened their beaks, this is the time of our great undoing, this is the time that I'll come running straight to you coz I am captured one more time."
Nick Cave and the bad seeds seemed to know just how I felt.
The organ sounded like a choir of mourners at a funeral and Nick too sounded like he was grieving for the loss of something.
Their music wrapped me up in a beautiful empathy for the suffering that none of us can ever avoid.
I went along and saw the band live at The Pallais Theatre in St Kilda, which was the suburb we were living in at the time.
It was an incredible gig. What a monstrous beast of a band they were that night. I remember the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end electrified by the collective hum in the room and tears ran overwhelmed as I was by the immense power of 'The Mercy Seat' live.
Years later I would be so lucky enough to be asked by MIck Harvey to open for them in Sydney and Brisbane.
It was a dream come true and an incredible honour.
Mick was very kind to me, kind to us all and put us all at ease.
I went backstage after the Brisbane gig and helped myself to sandwich. I introduced myself to Nick.
"Hi, I'm Andy, I was your support tonight."
Nick looked at me and his face lit up.
"How was it?"
"Overwhelming!" I said and Nick burst into laughter.
Later we all went to dinner and I got to tell Nick about a dream I'd had with him it, where we'd been walking arm in arm around the school yard and I said to him, "Nick what do I have to do to be a Rock Star?"
To which he responded, "It's as simple as sticking your dick in a dim sim."
Nick nearly fell off his chair when he heard of my dream.
"Maybe it is?" he said and continued laughing.
"Hang on was it steamed, or fried, or still cold from the freezer? Maybe I was trying to tell you it's really difficult"
He laughed some more and added, "I think you should talk to your analyst about that one."
It was a golden moment I'll treasure to the grave.
I've loved their music every since. Every member past and present a true artist to behold.
I love Nick's songs, writing, his screen plays and his collaborations, particular the one with Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard titled '20, 000 Days on Earth' from 2014, which I own and have watched many many times.
But it all started here for me back at Henry's Dream.
Of course I was quick to track down his back catalogue, but Kipley already had most of it anyway.
Here's the opening track of the album, 'Papa won't leave you Henry' - What a band! What a songwriter! What a piece of beauty to behold!
Day 9 - 1987
U2 - The Joshua Tree
My first ever CD.
The late eighties.
Following on from 1984 and my sense of being born a second time to a whole new world of possibility through art and self expression, straight out of the alienation I experienced from the school system, I found myself right at home, completely engaged and inspired at Preston TAFE doing a 2 year advanced certificate in Performing Arts.
It felt like an oasis in the desert of what had been a very trying time in my family life.
Mum had moved with my brother up to Queensland, to start a new life and help create some distance for him, from the sad and very scary world of drugs and criminality with which he had entangled himself.
I got my driver's license on the day of my birthday and dad had helped me get loan to purchase a 'Holden Commodore' - what a great car they were - I felt like the King of the Mountain.
But unfortunately that same day I got a phone call from my mum informing me that my big brother, whom I always looked up to as being the toughest and coolest guy around, had been diagnosed with testicular cancer, which may've been caused by a violent bashing he'd received for not paying his bills to some very nefarious thugs.
It sure sucked the joy out those 18th birthday celebrations let me tell you.
There was a lot for me to process.
I used to lay in a hot bath by candlelight and listen to U2's 'The Joshua Tree' and cry and heal simultaneously.
Paul fought the good fight but lost his battle 3 years later.
Still to this day he remains one of my greatest heroes and biggest influences on my life.
He was such a beautiful guy.
Grief is life long there's no doubt, it's kind of like pregnancy in reverse, the contractions of intense pain get further and further apart over time.
But you gotta keep going and life moves on and back in 88, Paul was still alive, there was still hope and my life was opening up to me in a whole new way.
I moved into my first share house in North Fitzroy with 2 of my great mates Dave Houston and Guy Richards. Dave was studying acting at VCA at the time and Guy was studying with me at Preston, so the house was always full of actors and creative types.
These guys were a great influence on me at the time, sure they were bad influences at times too, we threw parties in that house that were so big and wild and legendary that it took years to clean up afterwards. I think I'm still cleaning. People were sitting on the roof, coz there was no more space in the house or either of the yards. It was chaos. Cigarette butts swimming in dregs of stubbies, ashtrays full of wine - students!
We'd all read that incredibly inspiring book 'Improvisation and the theatre' by Keith Johnson, and had learnt to live life by saying 'Yes and.....'
Or to quote Johnson directly, "There are people who prefer to say 'YES' and there are people who prefer to say 'NO'. Those who say yes are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say no are rewarded by the safety they attain."
It was adventure we were seeking and art in itself is most certainly an adventure.
I felt so free and so deeply engaged and purposeful in my studies as a result. I was reading and learning about great thinkers and artists such as Samuel Beckett, Mike Leigh, David Hare, Tom Stoppard, Sam Shepard, Jack Hibberd and The Pram Factory.
Their ideas were given context, and my mind was set on fire.
Education was now an adventure, I never missed a singe day of school. Everyday I woke up, I couldn't wait to get back to class and continue to examine the works and the minds of the greats and classics.
Our teachers were so inspiring. We were all so deeply engaged. We created Political Theatre together, we pushed the boundaries, we discovered ourselves and our voices.
And more than that we became friends for life.
There was so much good music being played at all those parties, they were the anthems of our new found artistic freedom.
'The Violent Femmes', 'Joy Division', 'REM', 'Talking Heads', 'The Cure', 'The Smiths' and 'The Pixies' all hold the emotional memory of the late 80's for me, even though some of those bands were most certainly from earlier periods.
But no single album encapsulates the whole depth of the experience more so than 'The Joshua Tree' by U2.
It's a perfect album to completely immerse yourself in.
Turn out the lights, light a candle, clean out the old bath tub, (which was outside in actual fact at our North Fitzroy abode), fill it up, lay back and go on that ever cathartic inner journey of self honesty and letting go; and of dreaming your visions onto that ever expansive empty canvass that is 'The Joshua Tree'.
As legend has it the album was almost called, 'The two America's'. Bono and the guys loved much of what America had on offer, but it was The Reagan years and US domestic and foreign policy was something very far from the beauty of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Walt Whitman, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, B.B King, Billie Holiday, Yosemite, The Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park.
From that epic opening track with that galloping musical build to Bono's voice full of yearning .... " I want to run, I want to hide, I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside, I want to reach out and touch the flame where the streets have no name" and it goes searching and yearning 'I still haven't found what I'm looking for' and 'With or without you' - this album is hauntingly beautiful.
Bono's vocal soaring the heart to new heights and falling to great depths of longing.
The Edge masterful as ever with his epic delays and unique style.
A rock solid rhythm section in Adam and Larry ever supportive.
Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois at the reigns - it all just seems to work. It doesn't feel like anyone of them are trying at all. Just some kind of pure simplicity, some kind of being state, an eternal outpouring and connectedness such as you feel out there whenever visiting Joshua Tree National Park.
It feels like such a spiritual place.
I'd always wanted to visit there because of this album and like our own red centre and like this U2 masterpiece - it's timeless!!!!!
I've sat in my car during peak hour on Hoddle Street in Melbourne and thought, "What are we all doing here?"
but when you sit in such a timeless space as The Joshua Tree National Park or in a bath tub with this wonderful U2 album, and you have the time to actually reflect on all the mess that is love and life and loss and heartbreak and disappointment and death and striving and failing and falling, you actually feel rejuvenated and refreshed enough to keep going, to keep loving, and to keep trying regardless.
It's a beautiful homage to resilience and nature itself, it's a storm of tears in the desert heat, it's life born from emptiness, it's the Yucca brevifolia in the Mojave desert. It's the Joshua Tree. It's poetry in nature.
Here's my favourite track, 'Running to stand still'.
Day 8 - 1984
Purple Rain - Prince
Although I was born in 1970, I feel like a big part of me, of who I am today, wasn't born until 1984.
I was 14 years old. I felt awkward. I was a late bloomer. Most of the boys in my year at high school were all born in 69 and had hit their growth spurts.
I felt embarrassed and boyish in comparison.
My older brother was a local legend, who seemed to have it all, good looks, a muscular lean physique, confidence, intelligence and charisma.
I felt completely dwarfed by the comparison.
I could never live up to his greatness and scampered around for crumbs in his shadow.
I didn't know it at the time, but I was desperately seeking a point of difference by which I could identify myself with.
My brother had always encouraged me, my whole family had.
My Pa, on my Mum's side was also an incredibly charismatic, charming and successful man.
He would always send you off after a visit with a little joke.
"Did I ever tell you the one about? ......." and off he'd go with one of his funny stories or jokes.
We all looked up to him and loved him very much.
I showed interest in learning jokes and mum bought me a joke book for my birthday; and so after Pa would tell his joke, I'd tell him one back.
"Ha, good one Pa, did I ever tell you the one about?...." and off I'd go.
My brother thought I was a funny kid and would get me to tell jokes to his friends.
"Go on Andy tell them the one about...."
And off I'd go.
I didn't fit into the school system.
My home life was quite unique and very colourful.
School was boring in comparison and home work was impossible amidst the ups and downs of Party's and Drama that was my ordinary world.
Mum was working as a 'Promotions lady' at a local nightclub and would often bring home all kinds of colourful types once the club had closed.
It was like waking up into Alice in Wonderland, when the noise stirred you from your dreams and you'd wander out into their party.
There were cops and crooks and everything in between, all laughing and drinking and sharing and comparing stories together.
It was a community of misfits, broken hearts and deep souls who'd lived big life stories.
In hindsight I feel so lucky to have been privy to so many amazing stories at such a young age.
One man, 'Dieter' who was a german architect, spoke to me, or rather breathed on me with his whiskey and cigarette breath, "Your mum told me you are a reader? You must read Nineteen Eighty-Four! You must read Nineteen Eighty-Four!"
The mix of intensity with which he spoke, his drunkard slur and the spit of his enthusiasm was overwhelming to say the least.
I went back to bed, thinking to myself that alcohol really makes people kind of stupid.
Then the following day Dieter turned back up at the front door and apologised for his drunkardness of the previous night and gifted me that amazing George Orwell book.
That book blew my mind!!!
I wasn't really much of a reader before that, but afterwards I became insatiable.
The Aussie Ballet came by our school to do a little performance and needed a volunteer.
Being that I never did any homework, I'd reverted to becoming the class clown to deflect the heat a little.
A couple of my friends pushed me forward as the volunteer. I got up and did my first ever improvised acting.
I got a few laughs and experienced some kind of magical transformation, it was like entering a dream state or something, everything sparkled and the nerves gave you something extra to work with.
I was called to the office later that day and my first thought was, "Oh great, I'm in trouble again", but to my surprise the drama teacher was waiting.
"I saw you today in the ballet and was really impressed" she said, "I'd love you to be a part of this years High School Musical".
It was life changing. I walked around the school with a new found confidence. Some of the kids, joked and asked if I were " going to be on Neighbours?"
I was already writing poetry and a friend introduced me to his mate Rohan Gunstone aka Bang Mango Cools who had started his own band and was looking for a singer.
Mango is a pretty cool cat and I felt a bit intimidated but sang him the lines to a few of my poems.
He invited me along to the next rehearsal and 'Audio Hangover' which later became 'Vanity Plastic' was born.
I'd loved Prince's songs, '1999' and 'Little Red Corvette' and so when his film 'Purple Rain' was released I absolutely had to go along.
We went as a group. There was probably 8 or 10 of us that night that made the long trek from Viewbank, through Yallambie and onto the Greensboro cinema, picking up and dropping off walkers along the way.
I had my sights set on a certain young lady that I manoeuvred myself into the seat next to, hoping I might get a kiss, or a pash as we called it back then.
The movie came on and I was so enthralled.
The power of the music and the story brought me to tears.
I cried a number of times, and that wasn't cool back then, all my mates were footy heads, we were always trying to one up each other in terms of what we perceived as masculinity, so crying was just perceived as weakness.
Luckily for me the cinema was dark. I slid down into my seat to hide the water bursting from my cheeks.
Something in the story, really effected me there's no doubt; the fights between the mum and dad and Prince's love story were both full and overflowing with emotion, but the music- oh my the music - the passion and sincerity in Prince's guitar playing and voice, they just cut me to the very core.
His songwriting, the arrangements, the production, the absolute musical genius of this man and then his performance, his style, the mystique and the myth.
A true artist.
He was Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Sly Stone, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart all rolled into one for me.
A true star beyond the reach of mere mortals such as myself, but he gave the gift of feeling and dreaming to us all.
From 'Controversy' to 'around the world in a day' to 'Sign of the times' to 'Diamonds and Pearls' , 'Emancipation', 'The rainbow children' on and on - every single album, absolute genius on one level or another and his production is just so prolific, there's still probably 10 albums I'm yet to even investigate.
I saw him twice in concert - what a showman!
A multi-instrumentalist, a producer - the guy is in a league of his own.
Prince has set the bar so high it could be confused as a constellation or even a group of constellations flickering in the night sky.
I never got to kiss the girl that night, but reflecting back now I see that the seed was planted for me to produce my first feature length music film, which I'm excited to say is now in the very final stages of post production with a whole new double album's worth of tracks.
Thank you Prince, thanks for the inspiration. What's that saying, "shoot for the stars and you may just make the moon" - to see the earth from outside is to put one's whole existence into perspective. I live with the wonder.
From 'Purple Rain', this was the first song that made me cry, though definitely not the last.
1982 - 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 or 10 to 1 - Midnight Oil
Once again I have to thank my brother Paul for this one.
I was still too young in 1982 to really have any idea of what Peter Garret was on about when he sang, "Gough was tough till he hit the rough yeah Uncle Sam and John were quite enough" or "Flat chat, Pine Gap in every home a Big Mac and no-one goes out back that's that!" or "US Forces give the nod, it's a setback for your country
Bombs and trenches all in rows, bombs and threats still ask for more
Divided world the CIA, who controls the issue
You leave us with no time to talk, you can write your assessment"
But I got the vibe there was more to the story than what I was hearing on the nightly news.
Later on I read books like John Pilger's 'A secret country' and John Perkins 'Confessions of an economic hitman' and a the penny's did drop.
I can't thank Midnight Oil enough for the example they set of what Rock Music can be - a force to be reckoned with!
I've been lucky enough to see Midnight Oil live a number of times and boy are they one of the greatest in show business.
They give it all. Rob Hirst is absolutely spell binding on the drums and Peter Garrett always looked like he was receiving electric shock therapy or something whenever he danced, but the music, ah the music and the message - so brave, so on point!
My favourite Midnight Oil gig was at the Coogee Bay Hotel in 1990?
I was at NIDA at the time studying acting and the world seemed kind of sparkly and full of promise, but kind of posh and more refined than my Melbourne Bogan roots.
It was great to get along to 'Selena's' as it was called back then and into that wild sweaty and impassioned herd.
A good friend of mine in Melbourne is the sister in law of Aussie guitar legend Barry Palmer, who was playing for Hunters & Collectors at the time (Another awesome Australian band with huge passion)
Barry is one of the nicest guys going.
I'd helped him out by removing some old insulation from his new pad and he blessed me with free tickets to a number of concerts in Sydney and the Gold Coast as a result.
It was absolutely awesome to check out those two bands together.
The Hunters horn section joined the Oils and blasted out that ever catchy singable hook in 'Power and the Passion'. Garrett was swinging off chains, Hirst was kicking over his kit. It was 100% real deal fearless art!
The Australian Music scene at the time was thriving, there was still a strong touring circuit where bands could cut their teeth and get the kind of tight that makes great albums possible.
Poker machines, the increase of Random Breath Testing stations, no more smoking in pubs, more and more regulations and noise pollution complaints seemed to bring a silence to the roar of that great wild beast that was The Aussie Music Scene.
In the mid to late 80's and early 90's I saw some of the greatest gigs of my life and they were all Ozzies 'Chisel's last stand, The Divinyls, The Oils, Hunters, Inxs, The Church and on to the Saints, Painters and Dockers, Nick Cave and the bad seeds, You am I, Dave Graney and The Beasts of Bourbon '
It really was an incredible time.
Sometimes I think those guys were lucky to be musicians in that era, to make a living touring whilst getting tighter and tighter as a band, and then other days it seems that the message in the music was simply more powerful and more engaging as a result. Who didn't want to see what would happen on stage when Chrissy Amphlett or The Oils performed?
The scene now is smaller but the passion is still very much alive, we have so many great live Aussie bands out there still and a hand full of venues dedicated to the heart and spirit of the thing - be sure to get out there and support them whenever possible.
There's a new film coming out soon about the Oils, I can't wait to check it out.
Their 1990 film of their gig in front of the Exxon building in NYC is still one of my go to live gig films.
A truly legendary uniquely Australian band to which I'm forever grateful.
I love every track on this album - they're all such an important part of our Nations History - 'Short Memory' 'U.S Forces' 'Scream in Blue' , 'Maralinga' - I'm still horrified every time I think that after those nuclear tests there at Maralinga they put up signs in English, Italian, French and German, but failed to put up one single sign in the indigenous language of the area, being that these were the only people who would ever set foot there. :(
"It' just enough to make you want to cry! It's just enough to make you want to cry!"
Oh yeah and if you're an Aussie and you've never been 'outback and that's that' to remote Australia do you self a favour - you've got to feel that red sand beneath your toes, check out the Southern Cross in the night sky and find out whatever you can about our incredible Indigenous history.
Yeah 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 , 1 by Midnight Oil is the history lesson we never got in schools back in the 1980's.
Here's the one that hooked me in though- the super catchy and ever singable 'Power and the Passion'
The Wall - Pink Floyd
In 1980 I was attending East Ivanhoe Primary School in the Suburbs of Melbourne.
Mum and Paul were living interstate in sunny Port Macquarie, but because I loved Aussie Rules so much I wanted to stay in miserable, cold old Melbourne, so I lived between my Nan's and Dad's places.
I didn't know any other kids who had suffered through their parent's divorce.
I felt different to everyone else and quite alone.
I was good at sports which made me popular. I was always quick to be chosen for a team and I guess this kept my self esteem buoyant.
East Ivanhoe School was built in 1930, which isn't that old, but it was the oldest school I'd attended and with the high ceilings, old style desks and dim light etc it felt very foreboding to me as a 10 year old.
It felt like a relic to another time. A time of great sorrow and hardship, but I was probably not in the happiest of headspace at the time, so it's not a reflection on the school itself. All the other kids seemed very bubbly and friendly and kind.
The first time I saw the film clip to 'Another Brick in the Wall' - I was terrified.
All those school students being turned into sausage meat.
I didn't understand the concept or the metaphor behind the song/album/film as a kid, I just felt it and it made my skin crawl and my belly brain nauseated.
The kids all singing the chorus and then turning over their desks and running a riot in the school room.
It was disturbing! What was the message? What are they doing to us here at school?
Like the young boy in the film, I too was already writing poems. Somehow it felt personal. I could relate.
Then there was vaccination day, and we all lined up to receive the needle in our arms. I just couldn't understand what was going on.
A few years later in my teens I watched the film and was blown away by the animation and the overall power of the product.
I'm still not sure I fully understood it all. Still I was just feeling it, sensing it.
It quickly became one of my older brother's go to movies.
He'd sit in his bong room with his mates in what seemed like one eternal night and they'd watch 'The Wall' over and over, briefly interrupted at times by 'Scarface' and they'd smoke themselves into oblivion.
When ever I would pass by that room I felt strange, the blue light of the screen bursting through the gaps with a waft of weed and incense, and that sound, that ever haunting sound of Pink Floyd with all it's epic melancholy and subconscious stimuli.
Years went by, I suffered more at the hands of fate, I grew, I deepened, I read, I listened, I lived, I loved, I lost and I found.
I re-listened to Pink Floyd from a new perspective and fell in love, particularly with 'Dark Side of the Moon' , 'Wish you were here' and 'Meddle', and in fact I've loved those albums more than 'The Wall' it's true and probably played them more often.
They're enchanting masterpieces each one of them, the production they achieved is unmatched, the harmony's, Gilmore's Epic Guitar tone and the melancholy in his voice, Wright's keys, the synth parts, the drum sounds, the sound effects, the tape delays, the filtering - unsurpassed brilliance!!!!
And then if your mind weren't already blown - the lyrics of Roger Waters. POW!
I'm sure people have passed out listening to Pink Floyd there's no doubt.
'The Wall' was their last album together with Waters.
Waters was inspired to write the album, legend has it after spitting in a fan's face on a stadium tour. Waters was feeling more and more alienated by his fame and his audience.
'The Wall' is real. I'm typing this onto it.
There are a number of fantastic TED talks by Ken Robinson on how the school system, created as it was in the industrial revolution, numbs us to our creative potentials and alienates us from our passion and engaging at a deepler level with the very building blocks of our own uniqueness.
When the internet was born in silicone valley by hippies and revolutionaries I'm sure they had high hopes for it's potential to bring us closer together and to break down the wall.
Alienation is a terrible thing. Loneliness is one of the great killers there is no doubt. People live longer when they feel connected to others. Suicide is one of the biggest killers in Australia once you take into account the life expectancy data.
Sure smoking will kill you, but if it kills you at 70, it might have taken 15 years off your life, but if you commit suicide at 34, 24 or 16 then it's taken up to 70 years off your life.
Community is invaluable.
The more we can do to build it the better off we will all be.
Trust too is a key factor.
Every time you get ripped off, cheated, lied to, betrayed etc you put another brick in the wall.
Every time you reach out and help some body, show them kindness, forgiveness, give them a helping hand etc you take a brick out of the wall.
Of course I know, i know I've helped people who've then ripped me off - it happens, people are building their walls daily.
Some people are so broken by life, that it's hard to know where to begin. :(
And then there's the whole refugee crises and it's going to get worse as climate change continues.
I'll never forget being in Paris after September 11 in 2001 and seeing the Army and the Tanks out on the street in a show of force.
My friend's grandmother started crying because it reminded her of the Nazi occupation that she had lived through many years earlier.
She said the French people were worse than the Nazi's, because they lost their dignity. She said they were so paranoid, that they would dob in their neighbours as Jew sympathises if they even looked at them the wrong way.
I'll never forget her words.
I came back to Australia and Howard had just circulated a pamphlet that said, "Be alert, not alarmed!" - National Security is paramount, there is no doubt, we all deserve to live life free from harm, abuse and the threat of violence, but we need to build trust and we need to build community, we need to break down the walls, not build more.
It very well maybe an emotionally potent oversimplification, but paranoia and fear of the other trumps it in terms of irrationality.
Stay open, be kind, listen to others and help out when you can - it's easier said than done of course- I naturally retreat into the world of my art, into song, into dreams - our species seems too far gone some days, but then I think of how creative and adaptive we are as a species and it inspires me no end. The future is being created every day, I say do what you can to make it more inhabitable, fair and sustainable.
Walls will fall and mountains too will erode - ah now I feel like i've toppled over into the effluent slurry of cliches and suddenly become overly self conscious - yuk yuk vomit vomit.
Words words blah blah - somethings are beyond words, although I didn't understand the depth of this Pink Floyd Masterpiece when I first heard it - I felt it and I felt it deeply.
I'll shut up now and let the music do the speaking.
Never mind the bollocks here's the Sex Pistols
It was actually the early 80's that I discovered the Sex Pistols and they were already over.
The band had broken up in 78 and Sid Vicious had died in 79, but I was just a kid what did I know?
My older cousin Richard Brown introduced me to the Sex Pistols down stairs at my Nan's one school holidays.
Richard and I were average white Australian suburban kids, who loved Aussie Rules Footy in Winter and Cricket all Summer long, unless it was raining and then we'd play Freddy Truman's Test Match the board game inside.
OK so we may've tortured a GI Joe doll or two, by tying them up with string and pulling them along behind our push bikes or skate boards, but GI Joe was tough, he could handle it.
Anyway this particular holiday Richard had two tapes with him- The Great Rock n Roll Swindle by the Sex Pistols and Monty Python, 'The meaning of Life'.
Those two tapes just really worked together, they shared some amazing common ground and we were obsessed by them all holidays.
I went home to Mum afterwards swearing more than usual and now in my best rough pommy accent. I went straight to the hairdresser to get spikey bleached hair, which I quickly then followed up by piercing my ear.
These guys were like cartoon super heroes to me, with their complete contempt for authority and the establishment.
The stuff that legends are made of.
They felt dangerous and out of the box.
I remember watching a doco about their legendary 76 Manchester gig, where they inspired a generation of 'self empowered' punk bands such as Joy Division, The Smiths and The Buzzcocks.
There was such an inspiring energy in what they created.
Of course it's al fun and games until you wake up from a heroin frenzy to find your girlfriend dead beside you with a stab wound to her stomach and then die yourself of a heroin overdose not long after.
A true tragedy there is no doubt.
But as a band and as an idea they encapsulated something truly great.
I can't remember hearing the word 'Anarchy' in a positive light, before the Sex Pistols.
I might've heard someone describe a complete mess or chaotic event as anarchy, but never in a way that made you want it whilst thrusting your fist into the air.
After that holiday experience with my cousin, I was quick to track down what ever I could in regard to the Sex Pistols and 'Never mind the Bollocks' was at the top of the list.
What an awesome album. It's an energy. I felt echoes of it again when Nirvana released 'Nevermind', which felt like a tip of the hat to me.
It's an energy, it's a self determination, it's having nothing and nothing to lose, it's an asserting one's self in the face of established and corrupted authority, it''s a David and Goliath story of the underdog. It's an uprising of the disenfranchised.
I went on to read more about anarchy.
George Orwell's account of the Spanish Civil War, 'Homage to Catalonia' where the folk were opposed to the rise of fascism and communism and simply wanted the right to self govern.
I read Chomsky and his ideas on Anarcho-Syndicalism and worker owned co-ops etc for after all if there's no government who's going to collect the garbage and fix the roads? I loved his ideas about "how no human should be reduced to the role of a cog in a machine".
We each deserve the dignity of a meaningful and self determined existence free from harm, abuse and threats of violence and oppression.
I read about the Greek movement 'The Cynics' whose premise was that no one had the right to make decisions on someone else behalf.
It seemed the more I read the more I understood that at the roots of this philosophy was something profound and truly meaningful - 'Responsibility', 'Self Determination' , 'Self Reliance' and ‘Self Governance’.
But....I mean lets face it the whole Laissez-Faire push from the Right with its reduced Government, no regulation etc most certainly springs from a similar well, but like the chaos most people think of when they think of anarchy, the self interest and greed of the Corporations lends itself to complete irresponsibility and if the events of the 2008 Lehman Brothers crash teach us anything, it's that these institutions are also completely unaccountable for their actions.
No, like anarchy, trickle down economics is simply pie in the sky utopian dreaming. It just doesn't work.
We need governance, we need a social contract, look what happens when ever we destroy a rebel government overseas.
It creates a power vacuum and we end up with something worse than before.
But this idea at the root of it all, to question authority, to take responsibility and to stand up in the face of the bully, to express oneself freely and fearlessly- there is something of great and important value in all this.
Like Bill Hicks said in regard to The New Kids on the block - I'm paraphrasing, but something like, "when did mediocrity become a good influence for our children? Government approved Rock n Roll, we're partying now? Corporate suckers of Satan's c@*k the lot of them!"
We need space in our culture for the rebel, we need that perspective.
I watched the Gala event for the Melbourne Comedy festival on the ABC. I was horrified! Everything is so PC it's shocking, disturbing, worrying!
Rant over, never mind the bollocks, here's the Sex Pistols.
"The screen door slams
Mary's dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again I just can't stand to face myself alone again
Don't run back inside darling you know just what I'm here for
So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty but hey you're alright
And that's alright with me
You can hide neath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses to your lovers
Throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain for a saviour to rise from these streets
Well I ain't no hero that's understood
All the redemption I can offer girl is beneath this dirty hood
with a chance to make it good somehow
Baby what else can we do now except roll down the windows and let the wind blow back your hair
well this night's busting open and these two lanes can lead us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
and trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back Heaven is waiting down on the tracks
Oh come take my hand
We're riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh Oh Oh Oh Thunder Road Oh Thunder Road Oh Thunder Road"
There are certain songs that are just so bloody good you know every word to them.
It's like those specific words and no others were meant for the melody. It's absolute magic when it happens. They're my favourite songs and obviously the favourites of many others too, that's why at concerts you can see and hear an entire audience singing along. It is amazing feeling. Few artists write such songs. Bruce Springsteen writes whole albums worth.
I have to thank my Mum for introducing to 'The Boss'. She was a single Mum raising two boys in suburban Melbourne with longings of her own. She was a good looking lady and many wolves came huffing and puffing at our front door.
We laughed and cried so many times together. She was so full of life and all its colour.
The first album Mum brought home in 1980 of Bruce's, was 'The River' - oh my god what an album. Mum loved the song 'Hungry Heart' - we'd sing along to that in the car, we knew all the words off by heart, and all the words to 'The River' too, that one always brought me to tears. "You're an old soul" Mum's friends would say to me as I sat there quietly listening in to their colourful stories of heartbreak and betrayal.
The very first concert I ever attended was 'Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band' - Paul Kisvarda and I stayed out at The Royal Melbourne Showgrounds overnight so as we could run through the gates as soon as they opened them and get a spot right up the front.
It was electric. The songs, the feeling, the camaraderie between the band members and Bruce, the audience, the magic in the air, the smiles, the tears rolling down everyone's faces as the songs spoke deeply to our hearts and to our longings.
I knew that night that more than anything, I wanted to be a songwriter, I wanted words to flow through me and sing their songs of longing. I wanted to disappear into the quantum soup of the collective unconscious and harmonise with her secrets.
Bruce spoke for my heart and I wanted to follow in those footsteps.
The E street band were tight and came across as a band of brothers. It was a communion of the truest kind. We all met inside those songs and shared the beauty, the sorrow, the heartbreak, the longing and all it's meaning together. We cried and we smiled together. We danced and sang together and it was beautiful and it was life profoundly expressed.
By the time I saw that 'Born in the USA' tour I knew all of Bruce's back catalogue, but to this day, the album that thrills me most is this one from 1975. 'Born to Run'.
It's a concept album looking at the hopes and disillusionments of 'The American Dream'. It open's with 'Thunder Road' - still my favourite track on the album. It sets the scene for the entire album.
It's brought tears to my eyes on many occasions. I love the piano line, Bruce's voice. Clarence Clemons on Saxophone, the passion in the drum tracks....
I was very lucky a couple of years back to be taken along by Lisa Huntto see them all again sans CC, who sadly passed away a few years back. It was amazing. They played for over four hours, Bruce took requests from the audience. It was everything you could possibly want from a gig.
His book too is awesome as to be expected, authentic to the core, poetic and thoughtful.
Here they are : Bruce and the E Street band live with track one from the 'Born to Run' album- 'Thunder Road'.
1971 - Hunky Dory - David Bowie.
My older brother Paul was a born leader and a true rebel. He knew exactly what he liked and what he didn't like. He had a swagger and a dangerous charisma.
David Bowie's music was something he most certainly loved and that suited that swing in his walk.
My mum too was a huge Bowie fan.
There was never a problem in our family home when someone wanted to put Bowie on the stereo.
When I look through my record collection, few artists feature as often as David Bowie.
He was a consummate artist right to the very end. Every one of his albums is a wonderful journey to behold.
Although I grew up singing along to his songs, it wasn't until 'Scary Monsters and Super Creeps' that I really became a fan myself.
It was the 'Ashes to Ashes' film clip that hooked me in.
I was only ten years old but I had a sense that I was watching something truly magical.
As the years went by and I started playing in bands, one Bowie album or another would be on high rotation and not a year has past since without spending some reflective time analysing the lyrics, arrangements, production or overall concept of one Bowie album or another.
The one I've listened to and loved the most though, in all my years as a fan, and I love them all believe me, is 'Hunky Dory'.
It opens with 'Changes' - what an opener. I love the bass line, the production, the vocal - then onto 'Oh you pretty things' - how good is that song? The piano work of Rick Wakeman is stunning on this album. - it's hard to choose a favourite track - they're all just so great - the album is full of great poems and big ideas - it tips its hat to Nietzsche, Andy Warhol, Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) - it's just such a great work of art full of little wonders. 'Kooks' always makes me smile, 'Queen Bitch' 'The Bewlay Brothers' 'Quicksand' - I love love love it!
Bowie makes me feel normal. I love watching old interviews, I love his humanity and intellect and the gratitude I feel to his body of art inspires me no end.
Some albums in my collection that I've loved by certain artists, I skip over if I come across them, maybe I overplayed them, maybe they became too popular and I lost interest, maybe they dated - I don't know - but there hasn't been a year yet since I first fell in love with this album, that I haven't welcomed a spin.
Without further adieu here's track four 'Life on Mars' -the low harmony vocal in the verse, the strings, the poem, the defiance, the build to the change and then pow !!!!- what a chorus!!!!!! that doubled tracked vocal - then the guitar hook - it really is a piece of perfection.
This album was recorded the year of my birth but not released for a quite a few years after.
The first time I heard this album I was 13 and it set my heart and mind on fire.
Although I didn't discover this band until I was 13, the album was recorded in 1970 so it's next on my list.
An older boy, Dean Candy, who first come into my family home via my older brother, quickly became one of my heroes. He was a cheeky character who could always make me laugh.
He'd already left school and was on the dole. He didn't want to work. I guess you'd call him a bludger, but to me at age 13, he was beacon of light in a world of darkness.
He took me under his wing and taught me how to hunt rabbits using a bow and arrow.
I lived right on the fringe of suburbia in a dead end street, where just over that barbed wire was a world of rolling green to wander through and day dream in.
Dean showed up one day with a cassette.
He was excited and wanted to show it to me straight away.
My head exploded as the energy and power of the music blasted through those pioneer speakers. It was a mix of pure sex and anger, philosophy and freedom, carnival and nostalgia, such as I had never heard before.
Yet it also seemed strangely familiar as though I'd always known it.
It was Rock, it was Blues, it was Cabaret, it was Jazz,it was poetry, it was theatre, it was an improvisation, it was chaos, it was a burning star exploding in a night sky - it was a drug and I was high!
There was no greater hero as a disenfranchised, rebellious 13 year old suburban white boy from a broken home than Jim Morrison.
"Five to one baby, one to five, no one here gets out alive, they've got the guns, we got the numbers, we're gunna win, yeah we're taking over, come on yeah!"
I bought the whole thing hook line and sinker.
I was down at Brashs the next day and begun buying up every doors album I could get my hands on.
But the first was this one, which had been side one of Dean's Cassette.
Live at the Hollywood Bowl or 'Alive She cried' as the album is called.
The very first song I heard was a a resurrection of the Van Morrison hit 'Gloria'.
Jim taking to that stage like Dionysus reborn.
Of course as an adult reflecting back on Jim Morrison I see a lost kid still discovering himself, testing the boundaries and looking for a place to call home, but as a 13 year old he was a god.
I saw a great doco where Jefferson Airplane recount a European Tour the did with the doors in 1968.
There's footage of Ray having to sing the concerts coz Jim is curled up in a ball, fragile in the corner, overwhelmed by the cocktail of 60's psychedelia, touring and the myth of himself.
We've all been that guy or girl, overly excited by the big party and then having a good friend hold your hair out of your face whilst you drive the porcelain bus.
"Ride that snake Jimmy, ride that snake."
But Jim spoke to me, to millions of us on a very deep level and the music of the doors was the perfect vehicle for his passion, his theatre and his poems - there's no doubt.
What a great band.
I went on on to read Huxley's 'doors of perception' , Blake's 'marriage of heaven and hell', Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Castaneda, breaking on through to a whole new perspective of reality where to quote Blake "the road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom and in order to know when you've had enough, you need to have too much".
Meeting Dean and being introduced to Jim Morrison and the doors altered the very course of my consciousness there is no doubt.
So without further adieu - day 2 The doors 'Alive She Cried' and here's track one 'Gloria'.
OK so here goes.
I was nominated by Al Stark and my cousin Richard Brown to post the most influential albums of my life. I think the idea is 10 albums in 10 days, but since the albums that have most influenced me have also encouraged my rebellious side I'll be doing 15 albums - that's just the way it is.
I will count down from the year of my older brother's birth starting at album 15.
The list could have easily been longer - music has been King in my world since I can remember. I've learnt more through listening to albums than I have in all my years at school.
So here goes Day 1 - the year of my brother's birth and one of the greatest albums ever. There's been so much written about this album I'm not sure I can add anything, 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.
Over the years I've read quite a few books on The Beatles, one of my favourite's is ' Revolution in the head - The Beatles music and the sixties - by Ian MacDonald' - well worth a read.
One of my first memories of life is watching 'A hard days night' cartoons on our Black and White television in the morning before my brother had to leave for school.
The Beatles were a intrinsic part of my development as a result. When I revisited their albums with absolute awe and wonder in my teens and early twenties, it seemed their albums were an endless stream of creative inspiration.
I love the beatles!
All five of them - including George Martin.
I don't have a favourite.
Like the Rolling Stones it's the synergy - it's the magic in the mix.
This song is a great example of the synergy.
What an incredible group of artists.
What an incredible album.
What an incredible song.
You can really go on a journey with The Beatles music, listening chronologically.
It's around the Revolver album that they start to get wildly creative with the form of pop music, introducing tape loops in 'Tomorrow Never Knows' taking on board some of the concepts of 'musique concrete'. Their minds were alive with possibility and art and LSD too if the tales be true, but it's their natural sense of honesty, playfulness, humour and self expression which speaks to me most. The pathway to art is no linear journey, it's made of wondrous fragments, keep safes and souvenirs, of sleeping in gutters and marvelling stars and of consuming great ideas and boldly speaking back - it's an improvised conversation at the deepest level where the heart and mind are one.
Sgt Peppers was certainly a great leap forward for popular music and what's more should've included Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, which had been released as a double sided single under pressure to put something out.
It's an album I can go back to again and again and discover something new every time.
'A day in the life' was the first song they tracked and certainly set the tone for the bold album they were about to make.
I love it to pieces.
A response to Dave Graney’s ‘WORKSHY’ by Andy Jans-Brown
So I wrote this inspired after reading ‘Workshy’ by Dave Graney. I’m no reviewer and a very infrequent blogger and often feel a tad self-conscious and clunky whilst writing in this form, lacking as I feel I do- some kind of natural speaking pen and technical ability.
All the same, I feel compelled to speak out in support of other Australian content creators and producers. Word of mouth is often the best and most far reaching publicity we receive.
I guess I write this as a response more so than a review, which I’m obviously not qualified to write.
It will no doubt say more about me than it does about the book itself, but the fact the book has inspired me to take to the pen once more and write for the love of it is compliment enough to Dave’s wonderful book.
I also hope to pass the fantastic baton on and inspire a few of my blog readers and facebook friends to read ‘Workshy’ and to create fresh and unique art your selves.
I believe in diversity and think if we all consume a bit more free-range arts culture in general, it will lead to a more tolerant society, and there’s a lot of great authentic and original stuff just outside the bounds and pushed to the edges of mainstream culture.
So anyway here I go……
I’ve just closed the final pages of Dave Graney’s latest art ‘Workshy’ and like all the great books on my shelf I feel a sense of loss. The kind of feeling you get when you have to say goodbye to a dear and close friend.
It’s an invigorating and inspiring read.
Many times throughout the book I felt completely transported to another place and time. I smiled a lot as Dave brought to life the atmosphere and the spirit of the worlds he has walked through and the characters he’s met along the way. Many of them felt familiar to me even though I’m a decade and a bit shy of Dave’s vintage.
If you’re an artist this is an absolute must read, full of great lines like “He was playing Brian Wilson songs like ‘Caroline No’, all dressed in leather-trousered and open-shirted undernourished rock’n’roll loucherie.” or “She certainly seemed to see me as a foolish type of person – skipping lightly through this world by his own choice, a man with too many options.”
But Graney is nobody’s fool.
For me ‘Workshy’ sits somewhere in the realm of greatness alongside such books as George Orwell’s ‘Down and out in Paris and London’ and Woody Guthrie’s ‘Bound for Glory’, but let me put you in the picture of my personal experience to give you the context of my reading.
I first discovered Dave’s music back in 1993 when I was living in Eildon Rd, St Kilda.
I’d just moved into this old house, which had been divided into units. The rent was cheap, it was perfectly located, a short drunk walk to the Prince of Wales and Esplanade Hotels. The house itself was old school and had all that groovy post punk underworld grit and criminal funk of 90’s St Kilda chic.
I felt like I was in the right place for me at that time in my life.
I saw bands like ‘Beasts of Bourbon’ and ‘You am I’ all blow the roof off the joints.
The vibe seemed more dangerous back then, there seemed to be more outlaws, more junkies and more prostitutes around – it was their world, but they didn’t seem to mind the company of artistic weirdo’s, bands, gender benders and other such outsiders – it was an eclectic mix of black leather, splashes of left over fluorescent Mohawk, psychedelic colour tie-dye and incense to mask the smoke of all that was burning to the ground around us; somehow it all just seemed to work.
It was pre-Grand Prix – that face-lift was still a few years away.
I was in my early twenties and was fresh back to Melbourne; which was my roots, after years of trying to pretend to be something I wasn’t at the National Drama School in Sydney. You see I’d grown up a mad bogan footballer from Heidelberg in the Diamond Valley League, but with divorced parents, which wasn’t as common back then, and being turned on to the world of George Orwell, The Sex Pistols, Talking Heads and the plays of Samuel Beckett, I felt strangely like an outsider in my own suburb.
NIDA, though a complete eye opening experience, had not fit me well either. I was still searching for my people and my place. Returning to St Kilda in my early twenties felt like a good fit.
I was in relationship with an older girl that I’d hooked up with at my brother’s funeral. She was a wild one; a super cool, rebellious and well read natural outsider who’d been living in London, Sid and Nancy style, shaking loose the shackles of her suburban upbringing. Her younger sister lived in the unit next door. She threw a lot of parties.
I’d regrouped with my best mate from High School and reignited our old band, ‘Vanity Plastic’.
Melbourne was in a recession and we rented a rehearsal space with a bunch of other anarchist type artists in an old sewing factory in Collingwood behind Studio 52 Recording Studios. It was cheap and we renovated it with scraps we found in waste bins. We called the place ‘The Biscuit Factory’ coz whenever we talked about our grandiose visions for the place we felt like a bunch of tossers playing ‘soggy biscuit’ (a masturbation game we’d all heard rumours about but none of us had ever actually played)
I used to catch that 96 tram out of St Kilda most days and switch to the 86 in Fitzroy. It was full of weirdo’s and junkies on the nod. Drugs were cheap.
Anyway I digress….
‘Night of the Wolverine’ was the first Graney album I heard. ‘You’re just too hip baby’ the very first song.
I was a fan before the song had finished.
It was unique, catchy and very cool “You take a feather from every bird - you see it never flies”
It was refreshing and seemed to have a finger on the very pulse of the times. It felt like the anthem of the world I found myself flying in.
Since those years I’ve followed Dave’s career with a keen interest, seeing live shows when I could- myself migrating between the east coast cities of Australia, and then onto Paris and London.
Sometime in 2008 I was lucky enough to catch Dave again in Lismore of all places, where I’d completed my bachelors degree in music composition up in Northern NSW. He played an inspiring solo show on tour with Henry Wagons. I gladly bought both their CD’s.
‘We wuz Curious’ By Dave Graney and the lurid yellow mist– a complete masterpiece, quickly became my favourite album of the year. Once again Dave seemed to know how to cut through the façade of the whole thing and speak some kind of truth I’d felt but hadn’t managed to put my finger on.
That’s always been one of the indicators of great art to me, when an artist shines a light onto some dark wall within you and manages to articulate something you’ve always felt but never put into words. All my favourite books, albums and songs have this magic ingredient.
‘Workshy’ does the same – in it Dave puts forth an argument for a way of being that every artistic soul has touched upon. A truth that when you’re doing what you love, when you’re being truly who you are, your productivity doesn’t feel like work at all.
Dave takes it one step further by somehow remaining true to his artistic nature in all kinds of offbeat and unrelated workplaces, taking behavioural notes of the fascinating animals and environments with which he found himself surrounded.
Many years ago whilst living up in Brisbane and teaching acting, I was at the peak of my passion for the Unabridged Webster Dictionary that my Grandfather had given me; which is so big and heavy that you could kill a man with it.
At the time I was reading that book daily always being blown away by the poetic definitions their writers had come up with. I’d often look up words I thought I knew the meaning of and be astounded by the poetic definitions inked on those pages.
The word ‘weird’ was a revelation to discover. I was expecting a definition of “uncanny or unusual” but in stead was greeted with definitions such as “fate and destiny” apparently coming from mythology and ‘The Fates’ or Shakespeare’s Wyrd Sisters in Macbeth.
It seems that the Fates, or the Sisters of Destiny as they were also known, had a unique power beyond the Gods, to weave together the tapestry of every single persons destiny. One of the sisters would feed the wool, the other would spin it and the third sister would cut the wool of each person’s fate into very specific lengths.
This definition liberates and empowers the individual in what can feel isolating and alienating at times. I like words and meanings that offer solace in our struggles as humans.
Of course there is no need to try to be anyone else, what’s the cliché? “They’re already taken anyway” and other such bumper stickers, but let me put down my shovel for a moment and step out of this hole I seem to be digging for myself…..what am I trying to say?
There’s something in this idea that to be fatefully weird, is to be true to who you are and who you are meant to be, and this continues to resonate with me still even as I search in this outpouring trying not to be too weird, whilst obviously still being weird.
Is that weird?
You get me?
Dave Graney has always struck me as being weird in the best kind of way. He has consistently reinvented himself as an artist and walked his own path.
His voice is completely authentic; in his own words he states that he is, “qualified to be himself with all the raw material for an interesting vocabulary.”
In experiencing Dave’s art, this seems true. He’s definitely qualified!
In our current world of fake news, snapchat selfies, hype and copycat cookie cutter polished junk and overproduced pop, Dave Graney is a hero of authenticity.
I’ve often felt that sincerity is as fickle as the breeze and as shy as silence; you speak its name and it’s gone. Dave bypasses this whole game like a rover or a half forward flank; he reads the fall of the ball, swoops in as others fumble and breaks away from the pack with those two big white sticks in his sights.
‘Workshy’ is another goal on the scoreboard well kicked by Dave Graney in a breakaway Grand Final third Quarter.
It’s uniquely Australian, but not in that cultural stereotypical Crocodile Dundee, or Aussie Aussie Aussie Southern Cross Tattoo kind of way – no somehow Graney walks confidently, centred, comfortable and true in all his understated but well dressed Rock Star Detective Gangster Cowboy Noir Dandy, and with all his hard-earned tricks of the trade, and with all the “sand he has had to dig from his own soul”, he somehow shows us some piece magic and art that can be made from the red clay of our dry sunburnt and sarcastic country where tall poppies are constantly cut down.
He has made sense and meaning from his uniquely Australian upbringing and unashamedly shown it off on the world stage with his unique swagger, humour and aesthetic.
“I’ve had to go in closer to people than I really wanted to- I was built for a more remote style” – Dave confesses and maybe that’s his key- to have somehow remained outside, to have somehow kept all the bullshit at arms length whilst focusing on doing the work that mattered.
The world of music has changed dramatically since Dave’s days as the Aria winning ‘King of Pop’.
The direction it has taken has lead us away from authentic culture with its natural rebels and breakaways such as Dave is.
Record Companies no longer invest in developing artists, in stead they run karaoke and popularity contests on TV to make safer money marketing mediocrity to the masses. Let’s just say its certainly not revolutionary stuff. You won’t be seeing the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits or David Bowie growing out of that homogenised muck.
Thank Goodness artists like Dave Graney have found a way to adapt and continue to deliver their poetry and music so that our culture may continue to grow, blossom and be expressed beyond the straight jacket of conformity and mediocrity placed on it by the marketing power of the mainstream cookie cutter monster machine.
As we move closer into an age of drone warfare, sex robots, organic machines, internet control and a computerised existence, rebels like Dave and their books with paper pages keep us beautifully human.
Five stars – a class act.
So I’ve launched the crowd funding campaign for my latest film and music project, ‘Hell is Light’ at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hell-is-light-movie/x/9712555#/
And once again I feel quite overwhelmed and touched by the support.
Since writing the first draft to this film around September 2015 at a mere 56 pages and handing out to a small group of select friends (Dave Houston, Ben Wild, Bang Mango Cools and Simon 7) who all gave such positive and encouraging feedback, to then beginning the process of writing new songs specifically for the story, then filling those songs out with Dave Tweedie and Alex Mcleod, to writing a second draft and then doing a first public reading, where I sat holding my breath until the laughter of the room enabled me to relax a little and still on from there to a third draft and yet another public reading with the interest in the script growing and growing – it’s been a ride.
The script begun as an idea to rewrite the Musical ‘Grease’ and set it in contemporary Byron Bay. You know boy meets girl, some kind of break up, some kind of make up – easy – “Mills and Boon with music” I thought.
Then I told Benjamin Wild about my idea and he said, “Does everyone die in the end?” to which I said “no” and he replied, “Then I ain’t gunna watch it.”
That got me thinking, about who I am and what my music stands for.
Both of my double albums have been a celebration of all that is life, not just the upbeat happy positive feel good days, but the scrapping the bottom of the barrel kind of days, “Lay me down and put me to sleep coz I can’t stop crying” – (Your magic trick – Letting Go album 2012)
Mum had only just passed away and I was still recovering from Pericarditis and was experiencing Health Anxiety as a result.
I was keeping food diaries, symptom diaries, toilet diaries, dream diaries – you name it, I was keeping note of it.
It was around that time I had a dream of my older deceased brother Paul. It woke me up and disturbed me a little. I didn’t write it down straight away. I went back to sleep and dreamt some more.
Around 4am I was awoken again by another dream, this one was about a magpie that landed on my forearm and wouldn’t get off. I tried shaking my arm – nothing. I yelled at the bird – still nothing. In the end I picked up a broome stick and hit the bird over the head with it. Still it didn’t budge. I struck again and again until finally I killed the bird. I was outraged. How dare that bird make me kill it? I felt terrible – It woke me up. This time I knew there was no real chance of getting back to sleep so I made my way downstairs and started writing in my diary. At first I started writing about my brother and I found myself writing about about all the difficulties I felt in being his younger brother.
Paul was so good looking and charismatic and seemed to do well at school without really trying. He was also a stand over guy who bullied me from an early age. I always felt inferior to him in every way.
Later in his teens he got mixed up in drugs and searching for meaning in self destruction. Unfortunately for him he never had the opportunity to grow out of this stage as he developed cancer of the testicle which spread through out his entire body and eventually buried hum.
His funeral was such a huge event. He was so loved. There were so many people there that we couldn’t fit everyone into the church.
Paul became very violent on drugs and did some pretty awful things. He really changed and lost all his sweetness, such was the sleep deprivation and the paranoia.
I had so many hard stories swimming around in my head that morning about Paul’s violent episodes.
I stopped for a moment to reflect.
I thought, ‘How come every time you write about your brother it becomes a story about something awful he did?’
Why not write a nice story?
I mean the guy had so many people who loved him or looked up to him as some kind of hero, he must’ve done some good things?
But I couldn’t think of anything nice he’d done.
Then it came to me. ‘The first day of school I was swooped by a magpie and couldn’t stop crying- Paul came and soothed me”
As I wrote the words “magpie” I looked down at my wrist and it was bent over the pen on the page just as it had been in the dream and it occurred to me, “The magpie wants you to write it all down”
(I wrote about this more eloquently in another blog I’m sure)
As so that’s what I did. I began diligently recalling the memories of those years witnessing my older brother’s decay into amphetamine use.
The film started to write itself. I threw out ‘Grease’ and started to reflect on the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story, which I had always loved.
I recalled Joseph Campbell talking about it and the story of “banishment” – I had performed Romeo’s banished speech whilst studying acting at NIDA, where I had been when my brother passed away.
Joseph Campbell was recalling a story about the fall of Lucifer.
How God had created human kind and had commanded the angels to love and serve human kind as they loved and served him.
Apparently in Joseph Campbell’s telling of the tale, Lucifer saw it as a test. He thought God was testing his love and so he said, “God, I can never love and serve anything as much as I love and serve you.”
Half the angels of heaven sided with Lucifer seeing the logic in what he was saying.
But God was wrathful and punished Lucifer and the other angels for going against his command.
His punishment was that Lucifer and the angels would never again look upon the face of the one they loved – this banishment was birth of Hell.
Around the time I heard this in an interview between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell I was going through a heart break. I had fallen in love with a Danish girl who lived the other side of the world and the distance and the break up left me feeling something similar to banishment.
His words resonated such deep meaning and beauty within me. I thought about Lucifer in a whole new way – this idea of loving too much. ‘Can you love too much?’ I thought.
It seemed to ring true. You could love too much and it would most certainly lead to Hell.
It made some kind of poetic sense to me. This idea that all poetry contained the duende – the magic of the flamenco – this longing.
That from this longing was born great works of art and philosophy and music.
I accepted my longing and allowed it to influence me in every way.
It was a learning curve and like Dante and many poets before me I descended of my own free will to the depths of hell.
I looked around and saw I was in good company. Some of the sweetest and most generous souls imaginable were all around to soothe me with words of wisdom suffered for and earned. I saw it peoples eyes when I’d meet them. I saw it in the way they walked and in the way they spoke.
“Banishment and longing was everywhere!”
But I digress……
Romeo and Juliet yes, so I went back to my script and wrote it with all that longing in my heart and so was born ‘Hell is Light’.
I had recalled one of my conversations with my Danish love that the German word for bright and sometimes light was Hell. At the time this astonished me.
I had recalled that the Zulu word for War had been the neighbouring tribes word for love or something like that. Communication breakdowns had always astonished me.
The rest just came out. I remember Henry Miller saying once that the passages he’d slaved over the critics hated but the writing that had flowed out of him with absolute ease the critics had loved.
Hell is Light flowed out of me with absolute ease.
I fell in love gradually with each new character. Who were they? Where were they from? What did they want? It became a complete fascination.
The songs wrote themselves also.
Once I had the titles and knew which scene or character they belonged too they just seemed to write themselves.
It has most certainly been a cathartic experience for me and ever since going public with that first script I have seen the catharsis it has created in others also.
I’ve been blessed by the people who have come along to breath life and hope into this project.
Dave Houston who believed in this script from my very first mention of it and all of his constructive feedback along the way.
Harald Klette was next on the scene.
He read the script and was hooked – he pushed me along in those early stages to believe that anything was possible and that the story had to be told.
Daniel Sassi was next on the scene voluntarily taking on the role of casting with true passion and sensitivity.
The actors that he has brought to the project have all come with open hearts and an incredible professionalism.
Daniel has a way with people that is for sure.
It’s all heart really.
It’s all just one heart recognizing another and that is what gives me drive to keep going with this project – it’s the hearts involved and what they reflect back to me – it’s a heart felt script and it keeps calling hearts to it. It seems only natural that hearts will be drawn to the crowd funding campaign and then hearts will be drawn to the cinema on opening night.
There’s a long way long way to go and it’s bound to be an adventure so I’ll be sure to keep notes and updates. Stay tuned. Drop by and like the page at www.facebook.com/HellIsLight to stay updated on all things ‘Hell is Light’ and for all those out there full of longing or for those who feel like they have been banished for loving too much, whether that be loving life too much like my brother Paul did with his unquenchable thirst and insatiable hunger for every single thing he desired, or whether that be for clinging too tightly to ‘The Precious’ – know that your longing lives in this film and will be celebrated in all it’s dark beauty.
What did Bukowski say? “Find something you love and let it kill you”.
So many mini deaths in every life time.
So many ghosts we each have to let go of.
Happy Halloween one and all.
The year of the Monkey has most certainly done a number of summersaults since February. Life has been so quick paced including my USA tour and the development of the soon to be launched Hell is Light project. www.facebook.com/HellIsLight
I’ve been so overwhelmed by the community response to my first feature film script which was born out of the idea of a concept album for my music.
Many heart felt stories have been shared after the public readings of the script and the project feels like it has begun to take on a momentum of its own.
Australia currently has a very serious Ice problem. To quote Det Chief Insp Lindsey of the NSW Police who spoke recently to The Northern Star Newspaper, “The problem is it’s so much more intense, it lasts for longer, it’s cheaper, and you need less.”
Which unfortunately sounds like an advertisement for those wanting an intense cheap high, but I’m sure it is most certainly an appeal from a concerned citizen and high ranking Police Officer.
When I was in the Tweed Hospital two years ago with Pericarditis I was unfortunate enough to witness what hospital workers have to put up with most weekends, a violent barrage of drug effected, sleep deprived psychosis. It was frightening to see someone so full of rage and paranoia and a super human strength. It took four people to hold him down. I was shocked. My nurse said matter of factly, “It happens all the time.”
I recall a Police advisor speaking around that time about the short comings of the then Abbott Government’s response to the emergency that is the ICE EPIDEMIC. He said to really address the problem we needed more rehabilitation centres, he said some addicts can wait for up to four months for a bed, which can be a death sentence.
It seems that all of these difficult to solve problems get swept under the carpet time and time again. It reminds me of my time working for a phone company years ago in Sydney where as customer service representatives we were assessed on our call stats. How many calls you take an hour etc. This was madness! Most of my co-workers would hang up on anyone who had a problem that would take a long time to solve, as it would negatively impact upon their call stats. Ridiculous! I know but true sure enough. I wasn’t so eager to please my supervisors who were all five years younger than me anyway and I guess I have too strong a humanitarian streak, so I’d chip away at more complicated problems, some of which might take two hours to get to bottom of, but I always prided myself on keeping the human touch in a world that was overcrowded with automated responses such as, “press one to pay your bill by credit card. Press two to change your address” etc.
Anyway I digress- back to the here and now….
Of course everyone knows that to attempt to make a feature film without a budget and a seasoned Producer is total madness, yet alone to tackle a problem nobody really wants to hear about. So why do it you ask?
I guess for me that stems back to my relationship to my older brother Paul who passed away when I was twenty-one years old.
Paul had really struggled to find his place in this world. My parents divorce had really impacted upon him and by eighteen he was dealing amphetamine and getting caught up with a bad crowd.
He was young and had watched Scarface the movie too many times to mention and in that delusional space that comes with youthful exuberance, a risk taking nature, a disdain for authority and the disorientation of drug abuse he made choices that lead to an enormous amount of pain and suffering for him and his loved ones.
Paul was using more than he should’ve. He also had a generous nature and was surrounded by others who were getting the drug from him on credit. Soon enough Paul was in serious debt to some really bad people.
It was frightening time. Mum and I received threats at gun point as these criminals demanded their money. Eventually Paul paid the price. He was woken in the middle of the night with a baseball bat across the head.
Since becoming an adult myself, I have always thought, I wish I’d been the older brother. Maybe I could’ve been a positive influence upon him.
Around the time I began writing the script I was in recovery for my Pericarditis and grieving for the loss of my Mum, who had passed away around the same time from emphysema.
She had never really gotten over Paul’s death. It has always been the great tragedy of my family story.
I guess for me Hell is Light had its therapeutic aspect, but once it reached its first public reading I really felt it became something so much bigger than simply my own family story.
In fact I question now how much of it actually is my family story. It certainly began there, but has been enriched since with poetry, music, fiction, humour and its own inner truth to make it a piece of entertainment that stands alone.
It has also been very inspiring to see others involved in this project begin to take some kind of ownership of it. It feels me with a deep gratitude to see people coming together out of shared passion and good will to put their time and energy on the line to nurture this project into fruition.
I was fortunate enough to be a cast member of the crowd funded film, ‘Innuendo’ which was shot on location in Melbourne and Finland last year. I’ve been blown away by the quality of the cinematography, music and all round production aspects of this film. Saara Lamberg wrote, produced, directed and acted in this epic psychological thriller in a super human feat defying all odds, burning down a house, flying to the other side of the world, casting over 50 actors. I mean talk about impossible, but she did it! I certainly have no desire to act in Hell is Light, but I have written the soundtrack for it so I guess on that level mine is comparably crazy.
Anyway so exciting days ahead as we move to the crowd funding stage over the next month which will include the launch of the first single titled, “Play with Fire’, which I’m very excited about. Dave Tweedie and Alex Mcleod doing their usual magic. I really think you’ll all love this little baby. So stay tuned and get involved as we move this epic ship into the ocean and pray that it floats. #hellislightmovie #newsingle #playwithfire #andyjansbrownandcozmic #indiefilm #sharedmenaingmaking #australiancinema
“If this is life, I want to feel” - Well I'm back in the lucky country downunder and reflecting on our travels in California and Nevada, the new friends we made, the lessons we learnt, the magical places that blew our minds and touched our hearts, the busy hustle bustle of LA, the activity, the possibility, the good, the bad, the ugly, the demons, the Angels, the truth and the lies- all of it one big wondrous adventure and sampler pack of life :) And what is this life we live in this time of Snapchat and Pokémon? When the gap between the haves and the have nots just keeps getting wider- I shall never forget one beggars sign in Las Vegas which simply read, "No excuses - poor choices" - that really hit me hard – what a thin line it really is. One guy we met just jumped on a train out of Iowa and kept going till he hit the coast, no money to his name, just faith in a better life that he was yet to find, another girl’s car broke down just out of Malibu, with no money to fix it, she decided to live in it, but was yet to find a job- dreamers lost and the mentally ill all cursing at shadows by bus stops and water fountains.
I also saw very little trace of indigenous culture in the area. It’s crazy how far we’ve come with technology and yet we still seem dwarfed in other aspects of social organization. I am big believer in following your heart and going after the life that inspires you, and in digging deep to overcome every obstacle, in getting up more times than you get knocked down, but I am also aware of my privilege being born a White Australian Male. Whenever I travel I return home more humble and more grateful, touched as I am by the beauty of human struggle. For even at the core of those who would steal from you or deceive you without hesitation or conscience is that ever-pulsing life force willing its own survival. We learn from evolution that it is not survival of the fittest, but survival of the most adaptive, yet still it moves me to tears- all suffering! Of course life’s beauty would be diminished without its flaw, without poverty, hardship, decay and death what would we strive for? And would love and kindness be as spectacular and meaningful?
In the face of annihilation, cheerfulness and all that we do to help one another, all that we do to uplift one another, friendship, love and imagination – these are the true treasures and riches of human existence – this and purpose.
I will continue to weep and feel for all that is this life, for in such tears there are rainbows rich and fertile with all the wonder and spectacle that is this great gift of witnessing this incredible life.
#gratitude #andyjansbrownandcozmic #usa #life
Merry Christmas one and all and a happy 2016
Well it’s that time of the year again; Christmas and New Year, and whether you are Christian, a westernized Muslim, a non-conformist antiestablishment anarchist or a sentimental fool such as myself, it’s difficult to escape the collective cultural experience that seems ubiquitous here in the West every December.
Christmas is full of nostalgia and deep with beauty for me, though certainly not without a deep sense of all things bittersweet.
I have such beautiful memories of childhood, the magic and the wonder of Christmas including; the smell of fresh pine through out the house, dressing the Christmas Tree in tinsel and other eye catching decorations including that special glimmering star on the treetop, the cookies, milk and beer left out for Santa and his helpers Christmas Eve, the sound of Christmas Carols sung in beautiful harmony, Christmas lights and walking along The Boulevard in Ivanhoe East, The Myer Bourke St Window, the magic of unwrapping presents from Santa, yummy food and above all else: the faces of my family - some of which have since departed.
If you are privileged enough this Christmas to wake up safe in your own warm home, surrounded by the ones you love; if someone has been so generous as to buy or make you a gift, or cook you meal, then give thanks and be sure to celebrate and share the joy with others.
There will be many this and every Christmas who will be alone or feeling alone as they make their way through the day. There will by those praying for a loved one in a hospital bed, there will be those praying for better health or that they may live a little longer to see their loved ones grow, some will go without a meal, many will be homeless, some will be in Refugee camps praying for a better life for their children, some will be heartbroken and longing for their lover to return, some will be in aged care missing their life long partners or family homes, many will be missing someone dear to them, some will be estranged from their families, some will praying for the horrors of War to end, for others it will be drought or famine or fighting some Goliath Gas Company who is trying to lay claim to the resources beneath their farms. Some will attend Church, some others will be cynical and remind you that contemporary Santa is a piece of Coca Cola marketing genius and that Christmas has more to do with the promotion of unfettered consumerism than it does the Celebration of the birth of baby Jesus, the Son of God. Some will remind you of the Winter Solstice and the birth of the Sun in the womb of Winter and that many other deities share the birth date of the 25th of December. Some will tribute the day to the ability of Christianity to devour and appropriate the rituals of those they displaced and rebranded as their own, but whatever the day means to you, you will feel it’s collective power. This year being a full moon at Christmas might even amplify some collective reflection as we ready ourselves to birth another calendar year. Reflection of the year that has past and all we have learnt, lost and gained, and reflection of the year ahead and all it promises to be.
There will be hope, hope for the future, just as the far North in constant darkness will long for the Sun’s return and the lotus flower will begin its climb toward the light from the darkness and mud at the bottom of a pond, or new parents full of hope for their newborn will delight in their baby’s joyous expressions- there will be hope. Sadly though there will also be hopelessness. There will be those who will commit suicide and those who will attempt; there will be those alone and deeply depressed who feel the day only amplifies their misery, and those longing for a loved one, or longing to feel special, longing to the star on the treetop or a star in your night, that somehow by pleasing you they will feel closer and more connected, they will somehow feel more alive, just by existing in your eyes or your heart they will feel somehow more complete. Be sure to be generous and share your good fortunes and wherever possible include others less fortunate in your celebrations and feasts. Enjoy the all the wonders and treasure of giving and receiving that life is full of – the greatest gift any of us can receive is gratitude for life itself. If you’re religious, remember for Christ to be born, Adam and Eve had first to fall, forgive those who have wronged and may they too have their chance at redemption- reach out to those who may be feeling alone.
I’ll be missing my Mum and Brother this year amongst a myriad of other feelings. I’ll be feeling deeply grateful for the love in my life and for my friendships.
I’ll be reflective and so I’m sending out this love song dedication to all those who are struggling in some silent night of loneliness or despair – your existence, your struggle and your longing make you beautiful – take another step toward the light – this darkness will pass.
This video/song was recorded back in May at Phat Majik Studios by Hamish Gordon and filmed by Amy Hoogenboom and Sal Castro. The song itself is from the double album ‘Letting Go’. It has been an eventful year at Andy Jans-Brown & Cozmic including the launch and tour of our follow up double album, ‘Sunshine Avenue’, a trip to the USA to play at The Indie Entertainment Summit, inclusion in The Caloundra Music Festival, the birth of Abel Tweedie, a couple of Weddings and of course the pregnancy of Cassie Rose, who is due now any tick of the clock and was experiencing morning sickness at the time of this gig and subsequently performed her parts in overdub. A wonderful and memorable year all in all for which I give eternal thanks.
Here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a fantabulous 2016.
I'm very excited to be playing the Caloundra Music Festival this weekend. We'll be on the Surf Stage from 3 till 4 in the afternoon. The weather is predicted to be very nice in deed and our rehearsals this week have been uplifting. It really is such a treat to connect with the whole Cozmic team on the deep level of my songs and to feel the spirit and emotion of the songs take flight.
Music for me has always been the best of friends. It always seems to know just how you feel. When your blue, it's right there feeling it with you and when you feel like celebrating there it is blowing wind into your sails. It has been such a meaningful journey thus far and preparing for a festival gig always reminds you of the very fabric of your journey. When you have to choose 10 songs to represent your story and that you believe will entertain a festival audience, you start to get a perspective of just what the story is that you are communicating.
This Saturday those songs will be
1. City Lights
2. Shine a light
3. Venus in bikinis
4. You're so beautiful
5. Dressed in a woman's clothes
6. I got a feeling
7. Into the sun
8. You got me thinking
9. Witch hunt
10. If this is life
Would love to see you there.