Last night I watched the premier of a great new film called 'Frackman' at The Byron Bay Film Festival. It's about real Australian's standing up to the Government and The Gas Companies to fight for their right to live at home in a safe and peaceful environment. These people were salt of the earth hard working farmers. It is a very powerful, moving, disturbing and inspiring film- I believe every Australian should see it. If our politicians want to stand in front of 8 Australian Flags and pose and pretend to be interested in our national security, then how about protecting The Australian People from foreign owned corporations who are poisoning our water, land, food supply and destroying our Great Barrier Reef? Who are our MP's working for anyway?
If they want to stand in front of The Australian Flag, they better be representing and standing for the health and safety or The Australian People and not just posing and doing everything they can to keep the terrorist threat in our main stream media in hope that it gets them reelected!!!!
In my previous blog I mentioned Arnold Mindell's visit to my dreams as a reminder to heed the Magpie's call- Not long after Mum had passed away and whilst I was still recovering from Pericarditis I had a visit to my nightly dreams by Arnold Mindell, the founder of Process Oriented Psychology and creator of 'The Dream Body' concept. I woke from the dream feeling honoured to have been visited by Arny (Arnold Mindell) I saw it as a reminder to get back in touch with all that I had learnt many years ago from reading his great books and taking part in one of his fabulous workshops.
It was unforgettably life / dream body/ spirit affirming. I often recall and constantly retell a personal story from the workshop where Arny asked us to partner up with someone we didn't know and to find a space that felt 'right' for us, it was an exercise in trusting one's own intuition, we were a few days in to the workshop now and so were getting familiar with this kind of territory. Arny said, that when we found that place that felt 'right' for us that we were to take turns at being a facilitator and the dreamer, and that who ever was going to be the dreamer first was to then enter into a sentient space and let a body symptom emerge and express itself in what ever way felt natural- a dance, a poem, a song - a word - whatever..... My partner and I decided on a sun dappled shady spot under a tree outside. I had tension in my shoulders and decided to focus on that. I closed my eyes and let my shoulders do their thing. I went into some kind of bird dance and it felt wonderful. When I opened my eyes my partner had to ask me how this related to my dreams of late to which I responded, "I'm not sure, but last night I dreamt I could fly and I was joyously flying across the sky and landed on top of a tree and decided that I should snap of a twig and put it in my pocket so that when I awoke I could prove to everyone I could fly" as I said these final words I looked down and in my shirt pocket was a twig with leaves on it. All the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. Tears welled in my eyes. It seemed strangely miraculous - uncanny somehow. My partner explained that whilst I had been in my dance flapping my arms around I'd snapped the twig off and she was blown away that it had somehow managed to fall exactly into my shirt pocket. We were both speechless and held hands for a moment communing with this overwhelming other worldly experience, then with tears still in our eyes we made our way back to the main room to share our miracle with the group, but before we could share it Arny spoke and said , "now let's talk about time travel" and his explanation grounded our magic. He described for us in clear words the exact experience we had just bore witness to - something about dreams coming to us in a pre-cognitive reality, a space of the yet to be formed, the subconscious and that in this space we may catch a glimpse of reality before it was fully formed. To have such an experience of something so dreamy brought right back down to earth was and shall forever be something of deepest gratitude for me. I wrote Arny a poem on the last day of the workshop and when I handed it to him, he must've recognized my need for approval I guess, and said, "you are very insightful, you need to know that I know that" - I used that quote at the start of one the 'IRIS' EP 'Distance till Empty'.
So having Arny in my dreams enabled me to reflect on my body symptom of inflammation to the pericardium, (the sack that protects the heart) and it made sense that the thing protecting my heart would become inflamed around the time that Mum was in her final struggle for life or rather preparing to be born to everlasting peace.
Now on to the Magpie.
So more recently I had a dream that I was standing around talking to a friend and a magpie swooped down on me and bit my right hand - now i hear you saying, "magpies don't bite, they peck" - well this was a dream so the laws of reality are stretched somewhat- in fact the magpie's beak was so large that it wrapped around my whole hand and forced it back toward my forearm, locking it into that position.
I tried to flick the magpie off. I was very annoyed, but the bird was relentless and held its position.
I was impressed by the power of it's force. I couldn't even use the strength in my wrist to flex and push back to straighten out my hand. I became quite frustrated and started trying to shake the bird off.
Still it held strong and refused to yield to my will.
I found a broom stick and gave the birds beak a gentle tap to ask it to let go, but the bird was fixed in it's determination to keep my right hand bound to my forearm in the bondage of its force.
I begun to hit its beak a little harder thinking it would eventually capitulate, but to no avail.
Eventually I hit the bird's beak with so much force that it begun to crack and crumble, and by the time I was finished I had in fact killed the magpie.
I was distressed by it all.
"Why did you make me go and do that?"
I said to the dead bird.
"Why did you make me kill you? I didn't want to do that, but you wouldn't let go would you?"
I was clearly upset by the experience. It woke me up.
It disturbed me. I knew it was significant but couldn't work it out. I was considering the pied look of the magpie, the black and the white, was it some kind of yin yang? The good in the evil, the evil in the good? Some kind of balance?
For the whole next day it played on my thoughts, till the next night I fell once more into sleep and surrendered to a whole new night of dreams.
I was woken again the next morning at 5am, like I have been on so many nights since Mum passed, and in fact like I am right at this moment. I tossed and turned in bed for a while before I finally gave in to my thoughts and said, "Ok bugger it, if you're going to be so demanding I'll get up and write you down!"
Like on most of these mornings when I'm woken at 5am, I was thinking about my Mum and my older brother Paul who passed away many years ago when I was only 21.
I started writing stories about Paul and Mum, anything that I could remember. For years now i have often day dreamed about writing a novel exploring my early life with these two eccentric and colourful characters, but on this occasionI noticed most of my stories about my older brother were all about his bullying and use of violence to control me. I thought, "well that is an unfairly negative picture you are painting of your older brother, you are making him a monster, what about all the lovely pieces of who he was?"
And so I begun trying to recall all the tender moments I could remember sharing with Paul, focussing more on what a protective big brother he was, how encouraging and how his encouragement had shaped the very person I am today.
I recalled my very first day of school and how I had been swooped by a magpie and how it had really upset me and how I was crying uncontrollably and how my teacher had sent for my older brother to come and soothe me in my traumatised state.
At the time this memory came to me I was writing it down in my journal with an ink pen.
I haven't written in an ink pen on paper for many years. In my twenties I use to fill book upon book with written words of reflection and poetry, but since our immersion into the world of personal computers and iPhones etc I've typed most of poems and songs into a gadget so much so that writing pen to page was a somewhat unfamiliar experience.
It was at this moment though, this moment with pen to page that I wrote the word magpie that the meaning of the dream came to me......"This is it!" I thought, "Like Arnold Mindell's time travel."
The magpie had swooped down in the dream forcing my right hand into submission, the same right hand that I was now using to pen my memories freely to the page. "This is my liberation", I thought, "This is my broomstick to bash the magpie's beak- This is my pathway to health and freedom. All I need to do is write down my thoughts, write down my experiences and express my grief. This is my pathway to health- to letting go and moving on - self expression- the transformation of what is subconscious and niggling away at us into the fully formed awake light of consciousness where I can better reflect on it and see it with some kind of objectivity."
It felt like a revelation to me.
It was something simple sure, something I should've known, something I've talked about the benefits of to others in my teachings and yet here it was once more for me to learn from- the simplicity of paying attention to all that is pre-cognitive and in the periphery of our conscious awareness and by so doing, bringing it into focus and allowing us to see more clearly the process of our own personal metamorphosis.
To be able to read the symbolic language of our own personal mythology and bring it to light within the meaning of story and art- ah what a gift this truly is!
When I left home this afternoon, I was reluctant, there was weight in my steps bearing down from my shoulders. I didn't really feel like going for a walk, but if these past 8 months have taught me anything, it's that a walk in the morning or afternoon sunlight can really change your attitude, not just about your day, but about yourself as well. These past months have been a battle as I've struggled to return to health after my episode of Pericarditis and with the grief of losing my dear sweetheart Mum. I've had some concept of the connectedness between the two; the pericardium protects the heart after all and it is no wonder I was vulnerable there in Mum's final days. To watch her struggle with Emphysema was so heartbreaking- like watching someone drown, even though they are not immersed in water. She was a beautiful woman with a heart of absolute gold. She'd give you the shirt off her back if she thought you needed it and wouldn't take no for an answer. There was some peace to her passing. Some relief for her after many years of struggling. I have dedicated my most recent double album 'Sunshine Avenue' to her and everything that she gave to me and the making of me as a human and as an artist.
But back to the walk.....
I'm always uplifted by this process of putting one foot in front of the other and gaining momentum - it's very life affirming - and brings with it a natural high - the only high I'm interested in these days.
Whenever I walk my brain wanders with me, not necessarily in the same space as me, but with me, I mean I might be looking at the sunlight breaking through the branches of the trees, but I'll be thinking about life, about adapting to change, about how technology is changing the animal we are- at which point I might even take an ironic selfie and reflect on our culture for better and for worse, but also notice that my steps are somewhat lighter now, that i feel energised, awake and have a positive view of what is achievable and possible in my life. #selfie #narcissism #blamefergo #makingmywaybacktofeelinglikeme - a gratitude for existing comes over me and my sufferings have more purpose as I notice the inspiration they have given my direction.
I might be looking at a river reflecting silver sunlight, but my mind is thinking about Derrida and associations of language and symbols and sounds, or rummaging through old souvenir thoughts about semiotics, or Fromm, our fear of freedom, sadomasochism in cultural interrelations, or Jung, archetypes and how Arnold Mindell visited my dreams so that I might remember the magic in a magpie's call- the message to write down your feelings, to express yourself, to give your sufferings a creative outlet if only to move on and restore health and vitality - and to once again find balance through art and self expression.
Anyway yes..... all of this and more may swim through my consciousness as I walk and breath and be.
I highly recommend it.
Today I met up with Sal Castro from Turtle Films, (a heartfelt gentleman who's inner child is still very much creatively alive) and we jammed on the idea of doing a live DVD shoot of Andy Jans-Brown & COZMIC.
We talked it over, we tried to get to the very core of the thing.
"Why?" He asked.
"What's it about?"
"What is the story you are a telling and to who?"
"Who is your target audience?"
In part I want to do it to reach out to Festival organisers and Promoters and give them a taste of what it is like to be in the audience of one of our gigs.
Launching the new double album has been a lot of fun, especially the pyjama party at The Rails and The Royal Mail Hotel at Goodna with all them salt of the earth people out there.
The feedback I've received has been great, but so often I hear the same thing. "Andy I love the new album, I'm so wrapped to have been a part of your crowd funding campaign at www.pozible.com/sunshineavenue , but seeing you guys live takes it to a whole new level, it's like these songs were written to be performed live!"
The album was recorded in that old school way- four guys in a room and press record in an attempt to capture something true about the way we as a band relate to each other through the songs, but of course listening to the CD you can't see us looking at each other and feeding off one another and the whole process that is the making of our art. We always have some space in our live shows for spontaneity.
I'm a big believer in the magic that is made through communion with each other, with the audience and the spirit of the song - it truly is something shamanic.
That's another thing we've heard a lot through out the tour - "watching you guys and listening to you guys is a healing."
Music should be a healing.
Two of my favourite festivals are Womadelaide and Bluesfest Byron Bay. At both of these festivals I've experienced true catharsis.
It's the very reason I was drawn to making music in the first place. Like a young man with burning hair seeking a pond - so was I when I approached music, literature and art- and I'm grateful to say I still have hair :)
I was also lucky enough a few years back to work through The Royal Children's Hospital and Berry Street with the kids who survived the tragic Victorian Bush Fires.
If ever I was in doubt before then about the healing power of music and the arts, I was certainly left with no doubts afterwards.
I believe that when we authentically express the experience of being alive with all it's beauty and sufferings- that during the process some kind of self awareness is born, some kind of objectivity of our situation is discovered and we are liberated from the suffering.
Art is transformative! Some kind of transcendence is gained from viewing or listening or creating art.
But I digress....back to the Live DVD shoot - there are som many reasons I want to make it; I hope to somehow capture some of the spirit and heart that has been poured into the making of both my double albums, not just by me, but by everyone who has been a part of this whole COZMIC adventure. I want to continue with the pyjama party theme - it goes with the latest album - the idea that life is the pyjama and death is the sleep to come afterwards. I remember as a kid how we all loved sleepovers and how we'd stay up all night and laugh and have deep and meaningful conversations - and we'd all truly connect with one another - this is my kind of party. :)
And there's another reason to do it - simply to document a friendship, to contribute a page to the history of folk.
Sure, I don't play folk music, but in it's essence it is folk music - there's something in what we do, and what I write that is all about connecting with the audience, about building community, about welcoming all the weirdo's and making the audience feel at home some how in the world of our songs.
Too much of our culture leaves us feeling alienated, self doubting and afraid, just like Fromm discusses in 'Fear of Freedom' or Naomi Klein discusses in 'No Logo' or 'The Shock Doctrine'.
I believe as artist our role is to bring a person closer to themselves, not to alienate them further and this is the energy we work with as a band and as individuals.
I feel blessed on a daily basis to play music with COZMIC, not just for their individual talents but for being in communion with the good natured, generous souls I know these people to be - that is one of the things that gives me energy to continue the hard slog of being an Indie band leader - a very demanding job I guess that only other Indie band leaders could appreciate.
I really believe that COZMIC deserve to have the experience of playing the songs through the best sound systems technology has to offer with that wonderful in ear fold back and to an appreciative large festival audience- and so this is my goal - this is what I aiming for, to hone my art in music and music business to perform a COZMIC healing on a festival audience.
I hope you can join me on my adventure.
I'm really looking forward to our Melbourne CD launch at Bar Open Fitzroy on Wednesday March 18th with the wonderful SiB whom I was lucky enough to play with in the band IRIS, and whom I know to play with absolute conviction of soul and heart, and also Phoebe Jacobs and Stellafauna whom also shares the same kind of passion. Tickets are $10 on the door.
Sincerity- which of course escapes us when we name it - for sincerity is as ever changing as the wind, you can not try to be sincere or you'll miss it - but yes something like sincerity - SiB refers to his music as 'Salvation' , I can relate to this deeply - music is a healing, music is a transformative process - if you're in Melbourne mid March come and be a part of it, come and join our community spirited inclusive event where you don't have to be cool to be cool, where you are simply invited to loafe, to dream, to wander, to dance, to express your own authenticity as we do the same, capturing some light in self reflection.
We made it !!!!!!!!!!
Huge thank you's to Bella Selleck Richard Brown Robert Doran Lisa Hunt Bang Mango Cools Benjamin Wild Dave Houston Frény Ardeshir Chantal Laurier Zia Moreau Zoe Mary Appleblossom Matt Smith Matt Dyktynski Jared Burgess Lisa Stent Caroline Vains Caitlin Valentine Liz Zarebski Greg Bowering Paul Kisvarda Georgi Brooke Karen O'DriscollGypsy Esther Moon Carla L. Wert Joanne Burchall Sammi Rat-Lady Kerryn Peate Ella Factor Sarah Grant Scott Young, Andrew Laird, Romain Simeray Watie Alberty Nathan Kaye Mateus Wachter Elspeth Dobres Kathy McFarlane Shannon Cummings Ian ThomasDonna Henderson, Off Gunstone Lyn Kidd Fleur McMenamin Allie Vidgen Shelly BrownKellie Knight Simon Greaves Jenni CannonYhi Yhi Heidi Adams Connor Fitzgerald Saara Lamberg Helios Hotbags Amy Skipper Bart John Ajanta, Justin Kurzel, Michelle SelbieMelita Chaloner Ramana Panda, Sally from Sydney, Karen Hanna Kylee Kay Louise O'Connell Wal Malcom Glenn Jones, Nicole O'Brien Anya Rowlands Micka Scene Allyn Bradley, Aurora Sheehan J Junior Witney Rob Stewart and Ducale Coffee Ali Mireskandari Erin Bartlett, Emmanuel Le Dorlot, Nadia Holmes Sharon Holland BourkeBen White, Anneke Rombouts Fiona Delisle- Albrecht Martin Ward Melanie Escombe for believing in this project and putting your heart down on the line next to ours.
I can't wait to send you out your rewards and I hope you get enjoyment out of them for many years to come.
I hope your enjoyment is also increased knowing that it wasn't possible without you.
I hope it brings added value and meaning to what for me is already a very meaning project.
Creating independent art is rife with struggles, these struggles add to the depth of meaning and heart that is ever present in all that is created through sheer determination and the kind of 'never say die' motivation that comes with the responsibility of receiving such a calling in the first place. What is this calling? Some force deep within the subconscious that like a baby maturing in the womb, requires food and constant care for a period of time as it grows away in the safety and quiet within you, before the water breaks the contractions begin and the labour pains become increasingly intense. Birthing an idea, unfolding that special something from that abstract inner space to create a piece of poetry that flies upon a melody, though seemingly inspired does come from such a labour. Like a sprout breaking open a seed, a bird cracking open the shell of its egg, a diamond born from pressure on coal, or the Goddess Athene carving her birth from the forehead of Zeus nothing can stop a creative idea that wants to be born. I believe this is why art and free expression is such an important though inevitable part of life. No matter what restraints and shackles are placed upon truth, decency, and our will to good and beauty, the heart and intuitive voice will overcome them. The birth of all culture is a homage to this fact. From Blues music and Jazz born of Slavery to graffiti art - that inner voice shall find it's release. Life is sure of suffering, there is no escaping such fate, we are mortal, our time here is precious, our friends, our families, our time together so precious. May 'Sunshine Avenue' forever be a reminder to us all to make the most out of everyday, to see the beauty and wonder in the ordinary everyday, to know the true value of friendship and time spent together, to get up no matter how many times we get knocked down, to speak up no matter how afraid we are of our oppressors, to embrace the challenges of our own hopes, dreams and callings and to follow our hearts despite their daring bold demands. Sometimes it seems that what they are asking is impossible, ridiculous, childish, unrealistic and unattainable; like some impossible cliff face of an ice capped mountain top that reaches high beyond the clouds and out of sight, but who are we to doubt that inner calling? What if that calling is our future self letting us know they did it and it can be done? What if that calling is evolution itself metamorphosing? Does the caterpillar know it will one day fly? I remember when my brother developed Cancer and I was just 18 years old- it was beyond me - i was totally out of my depth - what could i say or do for him to help him make this toughest of journeys? I remember reading a book called 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull' - a simple though inspiring book by Richard Bach. I shared the book with Paul, my brother and I know it gave him hope and solace in his difficult time. A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to work with the kids who survived the tragic Victorian Bushfires. I was so touched and inspired to see their resilience and by the wisdom these kids had within them. They taught me as much as I taught them - maybe more. These intuitions we each have within us, this wisdom and courage that greets us in our moments of seemingly insurmountable strife never ceases to amaze me. Like baby tortoise that when born from their eggs simply know without being told the way to walk away from danger and hazard. IRM's i believe they are called - 'Innate Releasing Mechanisms' - fascinating stuff, but i digress as i often do. A simple heartfelt thank you for catching me as i dared to take that leap of faith into the unknown and fall - it's a small thing, a small goal reached, a small little step, and yet it fills me with faith to keep taking small little steps and i hope it inspires you to do the same. "Every lil step every lil step every lil step is falling, but you'd never learn to walk if you didn't dare to fall first and at the end of the day as the sun goes down feel sorrow turn into happiness, ooh la la ooh la la ooh la la la "With heart always, Andy xo
The story in short
“Follow your heart! Carpe Diem! Take the bull by the horns! Embrace your life! Get up no matter how many times you get knocked down! Don’t give up. Your struggle, your longing, your compassion and your kindness is what makes you beautiful!”
Be blown away every day by the beauty and wonder of life and consciousness. Take that first step toward living the life you dream of and may the fact that you are mortal be your light and not your shadow. This is the message, spirit and theme of ‘Sunshine Avenue’ the follow up double album to Andy Jans- Brown & COZ*MIC’s critically acclaimed debut double album ‘Letting Go!’
Unashamedly inspired by 70’s and 80’s Classic Rock n Roll, ‘Sunshine Avenue’ draws it’s metamorphosis from Andy’s childhood growing up in a broken home full of feeling, heart and longing whilst listening to everything from The Eagles, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, AC-DC, Cold Chisel, Billy Joel, Joan Jett, Kiss, Rick Springfield and The Cars.
The album has been made with heart, played and recorded with heart, mixed with heart, designed with heart and consists of 24 tracks of catchy, melodic and poetic stories full with excellent musicianship, rich with harmonies and overflowing with a celebration of resilience and a seize the day attitude.
The perfect accompaniment to a long drive or road trip.
“When I am no more it shall be the beauty of life that stole my last breath away” – Andy Jans-Brown
Here's links to the first two film clips from the album:
1) The title track 'Sunshine Avenue' - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTxNduLD0qA
and 2) Track 2 Disk 1 - City Lights -
The Long Version of the Story:
Sunshine Avenue is an upbeat celebration of catchy Rock n Roll Pop sprinkled with a couple of moving ballads all packaged together in a concept double album exploring the idea of ‘Carpe Diem’ and ‘Death as the advisor’ through optimistic rose-colored glasses and a shake your booty attitude.
The songs themselves have been tried and tested on live audiences and this collection is based on what you the people have asked for.
“Is that song on your CD?” you asked.
“No” I answered, “but it will be on the next one.” Sunshine avenue is that next one.
Since the beginning of consciousness humans have been both fascinated and horrified by the realization of their own mortality.
Psychologists working for advertising agencies have had a field day with these rampant phobias inspiring us to buy the promise of immortality in any number of symbolic placebo elixirs from anti-aging and beauty products, vitamins, sports cars, fashion and white goods which all promise to alleviate at least for a moment that subconscious ever present threat of annihilation. The media too it seems enjoy this constant to and fro of bombarding us with fear on the nightly news and then assuaging our panic briefly with uplifting adds in between their cliff hangers.
I remember as a child losing our family dog and asking, “but where has he gone?”
“To doggy heaven”. I was told.
“Will it happen to you one day Mummy and Daddy? Will it happen to me?”
I slept with the light on that night afraid of the dark.
Then when I was in my late teens I saw the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’ and I was so moved and inspired I remember I couldn’t even talk to my friends after the film and I walked home alone from the cinema with my head on fire at the idea of ‘Carpe Diem’ and seizing the day; of living out my dreams before I pass into the unknown.
I related to the lead character. I had just finished high school and was studying acting and my father like the father of the character in the film, wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the idea; worried as any father would be about the insecurity of such a life choice.
It was not long after that my older brother Paul passed away of Cancer. He was my big brother, he was tough and seemed so indestructible and yet there he was cut down with the very same scythe that awaits us all.
He had so many hopes and dreams that he never got to fulfill.
Something was imprinted ever so deeply into my soul that winter.
I would follow my heart and live my dreams even if it was to be the death of me.
The night before Paul passed he told me when he got better we’d hire a sailing boat up on the Whitsundays together. He showed me the brochure.
I vowed when he died that I will have lived all the things I really want to do before my fateful day.
In that way the great loss of Paul’s passing became something empowering.
That was the good that came from such a tragedy. ‘Death as the advisor’
“I’m coming for you” Death whispers, but don’t be afraid, in stead let it inspire you beyond procrastination to do what is true to your heart. This was my thinking then and still is my thinking now.
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in Australia, which at that time seemed a very innocent place, of course ‘naïve’ maybe a truer description, unaware I was of the politics being played out at the time; but there was no War on our doorstep, we were free to ride our BMX’s and skateboards around the streets without helmets for protection. Twenty Cents was more than enough pocket money for mowing the lawn. You could buy a lot of mixed lollies or potato cakes for Twenty cents or at the very least three balls of pinball at the local milk bar.
Like most kids I felt indestructible as I rode my Mongoose Supergoose full chrome molly BMX with yellow tuff wheels over the jump we made in the paddock next door. We raised the stakes too by jumping through a blaze of flames that we’d set alight with kerosene to feel more like Evel Knievel in his Elvis like jumpsuit, flying freely as we did leaving the earth behind and seemingly defying gravity if only for a brevity.
I grew up in a broken family, Mum and Dad separated when I was four years old. My life was full of emotion
and longing and music became a great outlet for my feelings. My musical taste was influenced by my Mum, Dad, my older brother, my cousins and Molly Meldrum’s ‘Countdown’.
I loved everything from David Bowie, T-Rex, The Rolling Stones, Skyhooks, Cold Chisel, Kiss, AC-DC, Australian Crawl, Joan Jett, INXS, Rick Springfield, The Cars, The J Geils Band, The Police, The Divinyls, Split Enz, The Knack, The Band, Lou Reed, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Blondie, Rose Tattoo, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, The Pretenders, Jackson Browne, The Little River Band, The Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The doors, The Eagles, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Supertramp, Queen, The Who, The Small faces, The Angels, Elton John, John Lennon, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Talking Heads, Bon Jovi and Billy Joel.
I think it’s fair to say you’ll hear a lot of this influence in ‘Sunshine Avenue’.
I grew to love concept albums too like Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’, Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, Elton John’s ‘Yellow Brick Road’, Supertramp’s ‘Crime of the Century’, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Songs in the key of life’ and AC-DC’s ‘Back in Black’.
I loved learning all the back-stories of the albums, reading the lyrics and getting a deeper sense of the passion that was driving these creative people.
It was that throw your fist in the air passion I felt in songs like ‘Born to Run’ and the wild charisma I saw in performances like The Stones in ‘Start me Up’ or The doors in their live performance of Van Morrison’s
‘Gloria’ that really etched a lasting passion deep into my being.
I felt a charge for life itself similar to the feeling I got jumping through fire on my BMX when listening to this kind of music.
‘Sunshine Avenue’ is full of songs that fuel that very fire.
The title track gets its name from an old friend of my Mum’s who lived into his nineties. Jim was an old banana farmer, a tough old nut who was fiercely independent. He’d become completely legally blind but didn’t want to leave his farm and go into a nursing home so he refused to tell his family just how bad his condition had become.
I used to do a few odd jobs for him, take him shopping, drive him to the club etc. – he’d been very good to my Mum, so it seemed it was the least I could do.
Sometimes when I was leaving him, I’d feel some real concern for his well-being and I’d ask him, “Are you going to be alright Jim?”
To which he would respond in good humour, “Don’t worry about me son, pretty soon I’ll be going to Sunshine Avenue.”
In Tweed Heads Sunshine Avenue is where the Crematorium and Cemetery are.
He was having a little joke about his mortality, which I found refreshing.
During the making of ‘Sunshine Avenue’ I lost my dear dear Mum who had been struggling with Emphysema for years. Just before her passing I struggled myself with some health issues relating to my Pericardium (the sack that protects the heart). It seemed symbolic somehow under the circumstances. Again I was forced to look deep and long into the abyss and to find meaning and gratitude for existing in this most spectacular of all events- ‘LIFE’.
Since the launch of my previous double album ‘Letting Go!’ I’ve been playing endless gigs to promote the songs and get them out there. Most of the gigs I play require 3 x 45 min sets of upbeat tunes.
‘Letting Go!’ was a mix of ballads and upbeat tunes, so it was time to write a bunch more pure Friday night “RAGE against the dying of the light” kind of songs like the classics ‘Start me up’, ‘My Sharona’, ‘Angel’s in a Centerfold’, ‘Is she really going out with him’ ‘Jesse’s Girl’ etc. Which all came really quite naturally to me.
‘Sunshine Avenue’ is the result.
Arranging the songs with the band was a total high. I’ve never experienced anything more natural or easy. Everyone just knew exactly what to play. It was a total synchronicity. The shoe was a perfect fit. The playing on the album is truly inspired and matches the passion of the poetry at every step. For those who love a classic guitar solo or bass riff, the energy a passionate drum fill, or four-part harmony this album is for you.
Classic Rock n Roll Pop!
For those of you interested in the back-stories of the songs please feel free to read on. Songs themselves should have their own inner logic and will hopefully
have their own unique meaning to each listener depending on where they are in their own life’s journey. I remember when Charles Bukowski was asked to explain one of his poems he growled something like, “If I could’ve described what I was trying to say in better words than I used in the poem itself I would’ve done it!”
I agree completely with this sentiment, but that being said, here is a little blurb about the environment these songs were conceived in.
You can listen to excerpts of all the tracks at www.soundcloud.com/andy-jans-brown/sets/sunshine-avenue-excerpts
Track one – ‘Butterfly’
This song began on the streets of Byron, busking one night.
I wanted something upbeat to grab the attention of passes by and so just started playing the chord progression and mumbled some gibberish melody over the top. (A lot of my songs begin in this way)
I did manage to grab the hook, “We’ve been sold” which when I got home that night helped me to find my way in to the song. It really is a homage to books like John Perkins’ ‘Confessions of an Economic hit man’, Naomi Klein’s ‘The Shock Doctrine’, ‘the Culture Code’ by Clotaire Rapaille, ‘Manufacturing Consent- the Political Economy of the mass media’ by Edward
S, Herman and Noam Chomsky and ‘Chaos- The making of a new science’ by James Gleick.
It opens the double album as a rebirth or resurrection after the final track of ‘Letting Go!’ which gave us all just ’50 Seconds to live’.
Butterfly is full of hope even amidst our current political environment – in the bridge I sing- “All in all it’s a beautiful ride full of meaningful discoveries in struggles and in strife. For all we know when we make the finish line the only winning to be won will be our lives that we left behind.”
Which sets the tone for the whole double album.
Track two – ‘City Lights’
This track is Rock n Roll – some kind of attempt at Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s ‘Saturday night is alright for Fighting’ – a look back at my youth and the feeling of being indestructible. I wrote this song about one particular night in my early twenties out and about in Sydney with my very charismatic friend Danny Rigney, who is now sadly deceased. I met Danny at NIDA and he was burning bright. He was a great deal of fun to spend a night out on the town with. He encouraged my more extroverted and outrageous side. The city was ours that night. I wanted to revisit that free spirit within myself in the writing of this song. The irony is that whilst filming the clip, I was recovering from Pericarditis and felt anything but indestructible.
Track three – ‘Sunshine Avenue’
The title track
A celebration of life and it’s fleeting beauty.
This song takes a look at the true value of our lives beyond the simply economic.
I wanted to write a song that felt as upbeat in it’s chorus as Prince’s Raspberry Beret, which I’ve always deeply admired as a Pop Rock Masterpiece.
Track four – ‘Shine a light’
I wrote this song walking along the beach and recalling a first kiss. I was single at the time and wanted to remember that magic feeling of falling in love.
I sung the hook over and over till I got home to a guitar and could work out the chord progression.
It’s upbeat and has raised many an audience member from their seat.
Track five – ‘Gimme every little bit’
This grew out of my love for the Rolling Stones and AC-DC’s simple straight up Rock n Roll with a bit of The Cars thrown in for good measure.
The re-telling of a ‘You shook me all night long’ kind of song dripping with sex and attitude.
Track six – ‘I got a feeling’
This is a rock riff Anthem kind of song.
I wrote the simple riff almost ironically. I wanted to make up a song that was making fun of the commercial aspect of the rebel in our culture.
I remember after reading Naomi Klein’s ‘No Logo’ and John Ralston – Saul’s ‘Voltaire’s Bastards’ that I felt some kind of post modern fatigue. A fatigue that felt lifted though by enjoying the kinds of lyrics that Courtney Taylor Taylor writes for The Dandy Warhols. Irony or sarcasm is almost a last line of defense. To comprehend the complexity of The Military Industrial Complex, Globalization and see the way our society has moved so freely toward an Orwellian dystopia has really disturbed me. Conformity is useful and even aesthetically pleasing in a dance choreography or synchronized swimming, but as Socrates is famed for saying ‘The unexamined life is not worth living”. We may evolve as a species to some kind of high breed Organic machine, part computer, part robot, part human feeding on chicken breasts grown in petri dishes and living under fluorescent lights and an omniscient surveillance system, and who knows things might even function more smoothly as a result? – but what about all that is beautifully flawed and spontaneous about being a human- the vulnerability, the courage, the optimism, the heroic failure, the music, poetry, art, heart, compassion, spontaneity, the frivolity etc etc – and besides that I worry that we do not question authority enough. I believe in human ingenuity, compassion, decency, fun, health, sustainability and a positive existentialism; in a self determination and putting your best foot forward through education, in doing your best under the circumstances and like David facing the Goliath or the shadow of all you’d prefer to simply ignore or pretend away.
I also enjoy all the benefits and luxuries of being born a White Australian Male, and in this I feel I can only mock myself most of the time. I love my iPhone, I love fashion, cappuccinos and get a real buzz out of retail
therapy. Globalization is such a complex system of being. This song plays with this sense of self- depreciative humour.
I sing “We’ve got the corporations pulling the strings of the government, well that’s OK if you’ll just like me on Facebook.”
Track seven – ‘I don’t like Television’
A simple little ditty I wrote on ukulele.
This was meant to be like a little add on a transistor radio. I wrote a few of these little ads for the album; ‘Homage to Naomi Klein’ and ‘Sex Cult’, but this was the only one to make it. If you purchase the COZMIC REBEL package you’ll get to have an MP3 copy of the other two tracks along with a bunch of my other more quirky songs.
Track eight – ‘She can be a winner’
This one is a real ode to ‘Jesse’s Girl’ in terms of it’s pop rock sensibility, but it all get’s weirdly twisted by the poetry.
I always feel like we’re being sold 10 easy steps to better ourselves.
‘She can be a winner’ is an ironic pop song.
If only she could see she’s perfect as she is.
Like all the songs on this album it features some truly remarkable musicianship by the band, in particular this track has one of my favourite guitar solo’s on it – some unadulterated place of free expression between a raucous childish outburst of pure emotion and complete mastery of pop rock melodic sensitivity.
Track nine – ‘I’m a rock’
This is a homage to the resilience and the get back up no matter how many times you get knocked down spirit of humanity.
It’s unashamed Rock n Roll.
Straight up dirty Rolling Stones all the way with yet another great guitar solo.
Track ten – ‘Homage a pain au chocolat’
Here we rest our ears for a moment from the driving Rock with juxtaposition, and head more into the soundscapes of bands like Pink Floyd, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Muse or Radiohead.
This may well be one of the saddest songs I’ve ever written, and yet I laugh at my own sadness in this track. Sometimes the closeness of laughter and tears amazes me.
I love the tragic comic writing of Samuel Beckett for example or those Roadrunner cartoons where the Coyote continually snares himself in his own elaborate traps.
Although ‘Sunshine Avenue’ as an album is a homage to our resilience as a species and our courage in the face of certain annihilation, I feel a responsibility to not leave out the fragility of this experience. It is very real. It is what makes the good days brighter and more vivid. Our suffering brings value to our joy. To know the depths of one’s own heart is the gift of losing something or someone you love. The treasure of failing at anything is knowing and experiencing the very exhilaration of your own passion and longing. What we long for makes us beautiful.
I think of Gibran’s masterpiece ‘The Prophet’ and words like
“If in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.”
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked...
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain...
I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
These are truly beautiful things and so too are Chocolate Croissants – oh France! - The gifts you have shared with us all.☺
Track eleven – ‘Leave it for tears’
Some things in life are simply too sad, abstract and complex for words and must simply be left for tears to do the talking. “She caught the final train nothing left to say so I will leave it for tears”.
Track twelve - ‘Get on top’ written by Tim Buckley on his ‘Greetings from L.A’ album.
I was introduced to Tim Buckley’s music through a good friend of my Mum’s, Stuart Adams. Stuey was a real character. When I met him he told me he was “drinking himself to death” and laughed afterwards with one of those loud raucous party starting kind of laughs. Within ten years he’d done just that- cirrhosis of the liver. He loved poetry and philosophy and had a big influence on me. When he first heard me sing one of my acoustic ballads he said I reminded him of a young Tim Buckley. I never saw the similarity myself, but he gave me ‘Greetings from L.A’ on cassette and I listened to that album as much as any other album I’ve ever owned. I never really knew the words Tim was singing so I might have got some wrong or made up a few of my own. In a way I’ve made a version of this song that is inspired by The doors ‘Alive She Cried’ recording of Van Morrison’s ‘Gloria’. Very rated M. Adult concepts here. Be warned!
I remember reading in Joseph Campbell’s ‘Masks of God’ series about the closeness between God’s of Sex and Death. This death defying resurrection kind of spirit. The Gods of Spring I guess you’d call them. When out of the dark cold deathly Winter comes life once more as the Sun turns on it’s magnificence. Sometimes after a broken heart I’ve felt almost dead inside and below in regard to my sexuality, but as time heals those wounds in the hibernation of my own personal Winter, Spring eventually does return with a whole new vitality. A homage to this life force and a homage to a great artist and album. A few years later I was lucky enough to hang out with Tim’s son Jeff Buckley. He sat at my Mum’s home in the very seat I sat in receiving his father’s music on cassette.
His ‘Grace’ album is another one I’ve listened to as much as any other album. He had a great sense of humour and play and a gentle heart. One of my life’s treasures is a photograph I have of Jeff biting my cheek. There’s a documentary about Jeff where he is asked by an audience member to play one of his Dad’s songs to which he takes offense and mockingly sings the phrase “Get on top of my coffin”. I’d like to think Jeff wouldn’t mind our take on his father’s classic.
Track one – ‘Venus in Bikinis’
I wrote this song after jamming some Jimi Hendrix with Hamish Gordon. I think it was ‘Little Wing’. Anyway Hamish went his way and I sat down and let Jimi’s riff influence me and came up with this almost Black Crowes Southern Rock kind of song. I wrote it looking back to one particular summer that I was living in Bondi Beach and fell madly in love. It was one of those “pinch me to make sure this is real” kind of experiences. I got my third tattoo that summer, a love heart on my wrist.
In the song I sing, “I might even get this day tattooed to my own arm to remind me of how lucky we are.” Living in the Byron Bay shire I often feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the abundance of natural beauty everywhere surrounding me – this gratitude is celebrated here in this song. Venus of course is the Goddess that inspires life itself. Like the season Hades took Persephone to the underworld and no more flowers bloomed – it’s hard to imagine an inspired life without the presence of beauty.
Beauty and Venus has many forms and faces, from Sunsets to an old couple holding hands, to the wonder expressed in a face that has just discovered some new amazing thing - for me meaning itself holds the greatest beauty, but oh the longing! And oh the innate releasing mechanisms! And oh the hormones! – And oh the life force calling itself into being like those first terrestrial animals shuffling up the shoreline leaving the water aspiring like semen to some promised egg.
Track two – ‘Sylvia’s Song’
I wrote this song after staying the weekend at my dear friends Lisa Hunt and Simon Seven’s home. I always feel so comfortable there and have begun many a song lazing around in their gazebo. Lisa had a book on her shelf called ‘How to write a hit song’ or something to that effect. I gave it a read and pumped out 3 new songs that afternoon. I’m not sure any of them are hits, but it was inspiration enough to get me writing. Sylvia’s was one of them. It’s part fiction part fact. I did once burn a photo I’d been carrying around in my wallet of an ex lover under instruction from an older and more seasoned Aussie muso, Chris Kenna living in Paris, who couldn’t bare to see me suffering any longer than necessary. This song has a beautiful, melodic and catchy little guitar hook thanks to Alex Mcleod and lovely harmonies, I think you’ll enjoy it. The song ends with the words “And now you’re stronger than dirt!” which was inspired by a Doors song which apparently was making reference to a cleaning product ad, but works too to describe the strength that comes from standing tall amidst idle gossip.
Track three – ‘Howling down the road’
This one comes from my love of artists such as Jackson Browne. I saw him and his band one night at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda where I’ve seen some of my all time favourite gigs including Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Jeff Buckley. The band were so tight that night and the poetry and catchy melodies just rolled out ever so effortlessly from Jackson. I was blown away. I love The Eagles and Crowded House too for this kind of lite Rock sound. It’s easy to listen to and the stories are clear. I love a lot of the Cold Chisel stuff too for this reason, Don Walker like Paul Kelly sure knows how to pen a good story. The lyrics were inspired by a tale told to me by my partner Bella about a time she packed up her car and moved on interstate embracing the complete unknown. I knew the feeling she was talking about. I’d done the same when I’d travelled for the first time around Australia. Later, singing the track in the studio after Mum had passed away, I cried as I sung because it related to my Mums story as well. I shall never forget after Mum and Dad separated the day Mum, my older brother Paul and I were driving through the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria in Mum’s little red MGB with the roof off singing at the top of our voices ‘Let’s Stick together’ by Brian Ferry who was blasting on cassette over the car stereo. We were howling down the road in deed.
Track four- ‘Almost Sunrise’
This is a true story. I did dance around the front yard nude one sunrise after reading a letter from a love who lived overseas. The ones we love are always with us, they have a permanent home in our hearts, whether they’ve passed on or moved on.
This song celebrates that closeness in distance.
Track five – ‘I should’ve died’
I still haven’t been to New Orleans but boy do I look forward to it. I’ve loved seeing Dr John and Jon Cleary. I love the music. I love the spirit. Although this may seem out of place to some on this album, for me like ‘I don’t like television’ it clears the palette and brings the ears back fresh. Thematically the poem also speaks of this whole ‘Sunshine Avenue’ idea. It is true when I look back and think of my friends who haven’t made it and all the ways I could’ve died, like surfing a cars roof across the harbor bridge with Danny Rigney - ah the crazy days of youth and the nine lives I have been granted.
Track six- ‘Sad Eyes’
I wrote this song about my Mum. She was such a character I wish you could’ve all met her. So generous, so vivacious, had a great laugh and a cracking sense of humour. She gave me many pearls of wisdom over the years and encouraged me so so much. I shall never forget being 13 years old and things had been pretty heavy in our home life. I used to scream out Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Barnes songs very badly from the shower and when I’d come out Paul and Mum would be having a little
chuckle about it, but on this particularly sad day driving up Castleton Road in Viewbank Mum turned to me and said, “I know you’re going through a really hard time at the moment Andy, but one day all this pain will come out in your voice and you’ll be able to sing just like Jimmy Barnes” – I never got to sing like Jimmy Barnes, but that sentence has stayed with me for life and has given meaning and purpose to any sufferings I’ve had to face along the way. This single sentence has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received in my whole life. She was a very encouraging mum. I remember also when I was lucky enough to support Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in Sydney and Brisbane and Mum got to come along. God she couldn’t stop bragging to everyone, “ Oh and he was even better than Dick Cave” she’d tell her friends, not deliberately getting Nicks name wrong either it was much more innocent than that. I never corrected her. It sounded sweeter to my ears the way it was. Of course she also told everyone I was better looking than Brad Pitt too, so it may’ve been a slight overstretch, but she was known for her exaggerations and embellishments. In the end though she was bed ridden with Emphysema and always struggling to breathe. She watched a lot of TV. She’d always tell the TV what she thought. She’d yell at the thing on New Years Eve, “Why are spending money on fireworks whilst people are still living on the street?” She’d curse.
She loved her dogs, “They’re the best people” she’d say.
I miss her everyday and dedicate this whole double album to her memory. The song itself has some of her
spirit and humour to it. The bridge sings “Oh radiate disorder and as the chaos flies you may birth a burning star” – some kind of reference to Physics and Nietzsche, but that sums up Mum to a tee. Track Seven- ‘Don’t give up’
I wrote this one walking the beach one morning. I’d been with Mum the day before and she was tired of struggling. She told me she wanted to put a plastic bag over her head and be done with it. It broke my heart to see her struggling and I felt so helpless not to be able to do anything about it. I was crying on that beach that morning whilst singing this song over and over as I walked. A big thank you to Dylan Curnow, Rabbit, Ferg and Lisa Hunt for helping me bring this one to life. I was surprised when I launched my last double album ‘Letting Go!’ that many people loved the first CD more than the second. The first CD had more ballads than the second and because I’m so used to playing pub gigs where everyone wants to dance I expected the more upbeat disk to be everyone’s favourite. I write a lot of songs. I could put out another double album every six months if I had the resources and energy to do it. I have written many ballads, but ‘Sunshine Avenue’ for me is a celebration album and although I certainly didn’t want to overlook the true depths and struggles of the human heart, I felt a sprinkle of ballads was enough for this baby.
Track eight – ‘A prayer’
I wrote this song on piano. I always seem to write very different songs on piano to guitar. They just speak to me differently. I love that. I love being influenced by timbre. Even different guitars write different songs. I love my nylon string for this reason. The opening line, “ I fell down to the bottom of a well with no water to break my fall” was really some kind of Alice in Wonderland idea of falling into a whole new world, but the world I fell into was as hard and cold as concrete. We learn and grow from our mistakes. I’ve made my fair share. Nothing like a bit of hard cold reality to wake you up. This track shows off the beautiful playing of Dylan Curnow on Piano and Rabbit on Violin.
Track nine – ‘Summer Love’
Another one I wrote at Simon and Lisa’s place after a morning beach walk. I’d been celibate for two years, withdrawn from the whole world of possible love and passion. It was Spring and I felt something stirring deep inside me. I could feel I was waking up from my hibernation and that my body, my soul and my heart had demands that would override my defense system any moment. I wrote this song about a future event I could feel was calling me into being.
Songs often have a way of manifesting themselves into reality after the fact. More than a few times I’ve written a song thinking I knew what it’s about only to discover months or years later what it was really about. This one gets people up and dancing at gigs. It’s a very easy going tune. People sing along even though it’s the first time they’ve heard it. I like that
feeling of connecting with an audience. It’s very cathartic.
Track ten – ‘Chiangmai Angel’
I remember how excited I was when I wrote this guitar riff. I’ve never rated myself as a guitarist. I guess coz I’ve played along side so many extraordinary guitarists from Adrien Siboulet, Matt Smith, Dave Tweedie, Alex Mcleod, Harry Nichols, Sam Shine, Mark Mulder, Bang Mango Cools, Cameron Spike- Porter and Mark Hoare to name a few, but a good riff is still something no matter how cliché. This one grew out of that whole Sus Chord thing the Rolling Stones do a lot of. A few people have commented that this one has a good dash of Springsteen to it. It wasn’t a deliberate thing, but hey ‘Born in the USA’ was the very first concert I ever attended and let’s just say it left a lasting impression. The poem to this song explores the depth of beauty and resilience I witnessed whilst staying in Chiangmai, Thailand with my dear friend Bang Mango Cools. I’d never witnessed anything quite like it. I did ride the streets on a motorbike without a helmet, fortunately for me I never had an accident but quite a few of my friends have over the years and this song is an amalgam of such tales. Often whilst travelling through developing countries I’ve felt a deep sense of guilt to witness the way our larger Western Economies exploit these less industrialized nations. There is a dash of that consciousness thrown in to this song as well.
Track Eleven - Crazy Beautiful
I wrote this song fresh out of hospital.
I received a picture text from Bella and it overwhelmed me with love and gratitude and inspired me to get healthy and back into life.
Since writing it I’ve realized it’s more universal aspect and in some ways this song is the counter to ‘She can be a winner’ – no irony in this song – it’s all heart and celebrates a diversity of beauty and a hopeful optimism for the human condition – some kind of prayer that we each may experience some kind of utopic multifaceted interdependent self-actualization. “A longing for the liberation of us all - to know that you are enough!”
Track twelve – Every lil step
“Every little step is falling but you’d never learn to walk if you didn’t dare to fall first.”
My mum loved to read Tarot cards. She was very good at it. Very intuitive and could feel people deeply.
In the story of the tarot the wheel of fortune begins to spin when the fool takes his first step and falls. The fool exists the cave on the side of a mountain and stands on the edge of a cliff, one foot on, one foot off. The fool is Dionysus, half man, half God. The God in him says, “step off the cliff you have nothing to fear you are immortal.” The man in him says, “Don’t do it you will plummet to your death.” The moral is he is a fool of he steps and a fool if he doesn’t either way he is still a fool.
In the tarot deck the fools journey goes through many stages and completes with the card of the World, a
triumphant or closure card after many trials and tribulations. As the wheel spins the fool is taken downward and must learn the difficult lessons of the underworld before rising once more. This is of course no different to our own journey through the seasons from Autumn or Fall to Winter to Spring and back again to Summer. These cycles of life, the ups and downs of our emotional life and with each journey around the sun it’s like we are the trunk of a tree that develops an extra ring or an onion that gets another layer. Jumping into the unknown is risky there is always some kind of leap of faith required, but like a baby learning how to walk, we must be willing to fall over at least a few times on our path to mastery.
I wrote this song after a conversation with my Grand Pa who is now 96 years young.
I asked him what was the greatest joy of his event filled life, to which he responded “my children”.
I asked my Mum once what the meaning of her life was and she too said “My children”.
I’m a simple kind of person in many ways. For me this little seed of wisdom about the value having children brings to your life is a great significance. We talk of eternal life and in passing on the seed or the fantastic baton in some endless relay race where we all get to run a lap but never see the finish line, nor do we know where the race itself began, but in this great mystery we get to be a part of something much bigger and having a consciousness of that alone is enough to fill my days with poetry and wonder. I hope to one day become a father and to pass on this wonderful gift that has been bestowed upon me before I myself venture down Sunshine Avenue.
This song also plays the role of a classic happy ending. “As the sun goes down feel sorrow turn into happiness”
I wanted to end the double album on a happy note. The last words my Mum said were, “I’m happy”.
She’d been to hell and back a few times and still she found peace and happiness and acceptance of her new adventure into the unknown. I wish this kind of contentment for all peoples. Last year we lost one of our most inspiring musicians in the local area, David Ades. Dave was a teacher of mine at university, but also a great inspiration to me as a musician and a person; full as he was and overflowing with an abundance of life energy. His funeral was true to his spirit. It was the most uplifting funerals I’d ever been to. It ended with a New Orleans style marching band to the ocean where Dave’s ashes were scattered past the breakers at The Pass in Byron Bay. Dave was an avid surfer as well as a genius saxophonist. It was a wonderful uplifting celebration of a wonderful uplifting man. I hope some of the spirit of that experience lives in this album also, because for me, like the words of old Jim when he said, “Don’t worry about me son, pretty soon I’ll be going to Sunshine Avenue”, the serenity prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr, that old expression, “make hay whilst the sun shines” or Dylan Thomas when he wrote “rage against the dying of the light”, we may only have this one chance at life, who knows? This may not be a rehearsal for an afterlife or reincarnation? I may be wrong, I’m happy to be wrong, it’s just in fact an unknowable mystery that we each have to live with and accept.
I hope this album inspires you all to follow your hearts and dreams despite all odds, and to be more compassionate to one another in our shared struggles for peace, love, wisdom, prosperity, health, sustainability and harmony.
I think back to my song ‘Taj Mahal’ from ‘Letting Go!’ which has a similar message. “So there we go trying to find ourselves a devil, when will we learn the greatest evil is fear and anyway love when we hit the bottom we won’t be disappointed if we’re diving for pearls. Honey you must know that treasure is a faithful understanding like a best friend who will never prove untrue. To me my sweet your beauty is timeless I’m lost in your eyes somewhere come find me. And let’s hold hands and skip for all happiness though life is sure of sorrows and worrying lines.”
Yes life is full of struggles, but boy is it a precious journey. I wish you every happiness in your travels – and remember when you hit the bottom you won’t be disappointed if you’re diving for pearls.”
“When I am no more it shall be the beauty of life that stole my last breath away.”
The story behind the artwork:
I don’t feel like I’m the right person to discuss the artwork. To understand it’s meaning and correct context more please contact Tennessee at http://tennessee-charpentier.blogspot.com.au
What I can tell you about the artwork is that like ‘Letting Go!’ I simply gave Tennessee a brief and free reign to go in whatever direction she saw fit.
I was so impressed by her concept for ‘Letting Go!’, I had no doubt she would surprise me once again with ‘Sunshine Avenue’. The basic brief I gave was that I wanted the artwork to somehow encapsulate the theme of the album. I told her the story of old jim’s little joke. I told her I wanted the artwork to somehow laugh a little at our mortality and deep psychological hold it has on us all. A bit of Black Humour. As stylistic references I quoted Ingmar Bergman’s classic ‘The Seventh Seal’
Mixed with the Mexican Day of The Dead - beauty in the macabre kind of visual symbolism.
I also wanted there to be some kind of reference to the ideas in the song ‘Sunshine Avenue’ the idea that the experiences of our life; our friendships, our great loves, our families, our losses, our hopes, our dreams etc are the true riches.
I sent her some of the tracks from the album and hoped to inspire some kind of visual sense of Pop Rock n Roll.
I must say when I first saw the image, it reminded me in some way of The Sex Pistol’s ‘God Save the Queen’. I was really impressed, but as time went on I became more and more sensitive and doubting, “Was it too full on?” “Was it promoting self harm?” “Is it a pro euthanasia comment?” “Is it a call to revolution?”
I wrote to Tennessee to seek reassurance and I well received it.
She reminded me of the famous journalistic photograph where the hippy girl in the 1960’s placed a flower in the barrel of a soldier’s riffle to symbolize ‘PEACE’.
This put my mind at peace also.
Peace and tolerance, the pursuit of happiness, equality, justice, health and a harmonious and sustainable global community is what I would like my music to be promoting, but with all that said, laughter is also great medicine and a bit of frivolity and fun in the face of what seems sometimes to be so much serious doom and gloom is surely not a bad thing, so thank you Tennessee Charpentier for reminding me of my own original message inspired perhaps by Oscar Wilde when he wrote, “Life is too important to be taken seriously” it reminded me of The Sex Pistols 'God Save the Queen' - and appealed to my whole Pop Art sensitivity. I think anything that gets us thinking about the value of life is a good thing. I think even if the image offends it will give a positive charge to that person. It least I hope so. I certainly don't want to promote self harm or cause trauma to anyone who's had a close call with a firearm . I myself have had a gun pointed at me - so know very well how traumatic that can be, but this is a plastic gun - it's a kids toy - there's something that touches for me on those games we play as young boys like 'war' or 'cowboys and Indians' where we play dead and count to 100. It's deep somehow that even at the age we rehearse for our final breath. Having just lost mum in the making of this album - I know too well the reality of human frailty and the value of peace, love, harmony, health and life itself. I think of the Gods of Spring with this image. The potent symbol of the crucifixion - that magic eternal life that resurrects from the dark cold cave of winter and spills forth it's life force to once again draw forth all the beautiful flowers of Spring. It's a life affirming symbol for me like the crucifix (no offense meant to that sacred symbol) - it's just that it somehow connects to the idea of life given through sacrifice, like the Salmon that swims against the stream to make it's way up to the still pond where it lays its eggs and dies leaving it's flesh to nourish the progeny. It's a beautiful and deep thing.
With Heart, Andy
So now it all begins. Somehow I must face this dragon that is the 'Creative Industries' and fight for my Golden Fleece. So much to weave together to create a tapestry of who I sincerely am, what i stand for, what the brand represents and how to get that message across multiple platforms from smartphones, to games, Vimeo, YouTube, RAGE, pozible, facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblr, ITunes, Bandcamp, Reverb Nation, Soundcloud, Spotify, Shutterstock, Envato and whatever other social media and creative common platforms take off next.
So for now call me 'Jason' leader of the Argonauts
and wish me luck as I lay back here interact and type between two computers, a smartphone and a wifi TV set all fighting for my interest. One of the great movies too it is there on bluray - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalypto - another must see. With heart,
Watched a documentary called, 'Generation Like'.
Amazing move in the flow of money and power to the popular based on one easy to click facebook button, 'The Like'.
Have noticed the increase in products promoting through social media platforms such as twitter, instagram and facebook.
Many clothing designers now hold competitions for the most popular photo promoting their product and the winner will receive a gift voucher for their store.
It's all about popularity.
The more 'like' clicks something receives the more it circulates and stays in the news feed.
A whole new cult of celebrity has been born and it spreads itself like a virus.
Gone are the days of questioning blatant self promotion and narcissism, the whole movement itself is becoming a new industry.
Advertising has become more savvy and street smart, getting the teens to do the ground work for the product.
Every one can be famous it seems, if only you can be 'Liked' enough.
In some ways nothing has changed since the School Playground.
But stay tuned as I prepare a www.pozible.com campaign to help raise funds for the production of my follow up CD 'Sunshine avenue' which should be pressed and delivered in time for Christmas.
I believe crowd funding is a good way to raise awareness about your product and direction and helps to keep your fanbase and facebook friends updated as to your progress.
I still feel like there is a lot to learn about making an engaging and entertaining 3 minute introductory video to one's vision. And let's face it if it's all about 'likes' in this new world i will need all the help I can get from my on-line community.
I've managed to license one of my songs 'Despite Everything' to Showtime Foxtell's 'Satisfaction', and 'Ah Sunflower' to the Amy Hoogenboom Documentary 'Scatter Joy' , but will also be looking to upload a bunch of sound files and stock footage to previously mentioned creative common style websites such as Shutterstock and Envato.
For every opinion there is propaganda to support it.
Truth has as many faces as there are faces on this planet. When a truth is upheld by one - we call it idiocy or madness, when it is upheld by a small number we call it a cult, when it is upheld by many we call it religion, when it is accepted as fact we call it science or mathematics , but when it is upheld by the media - any media we still call it propaganda because that's what media is. Media is not science - it is not based solely on facts. Media is a biased perspective on the flux that is the multitude or simultaneous realities. No matter how media seeks to support it's argument with pseudo facts and hired experts to promote it's perspective - it's propaganda - it is incapable of presenting all at once the billions of faces and truths which convey something closer to the actual truth, nor does it seek to. Media is deliberately biased - it's function is to indoctrinate it's readers and subjects, to win their consent and hold their belief. Every temporal truth is not truth forever, just true until proved otherwise. The world is not flat.
I've always been put off by this aspect of spirituality/ religion - it seems so pervasive - predators drawn to positions of unquestioned authority. I loved reading 'The masks of God' series by Joseph Campbell - it really had a great way of demystifying our search for meaning and enlightenment without diminishing any of the wonder. One of my personal issues with the allegory of the fall of man in the Christian bible is the message it sends. So you have this so called All Powerful God who rules that this fruit on this tree of knowledge of good and evil can not be tasted. Then satan who is in the form of a serpent, a snake, a representative of nature itself, tempts Eve, the female, who then tempts Adam the male - they eat and God condemns them to leave the garden as punishment for going against his will. The message here seems clear enough, 'Do not trust nature and curiosity and Do not question the authority of God' - but this a dangerous precedent - I say question authority every single day. Gurus and priests , politicians and lawmen, CEO's, teachers and coaches must be held to accountability . Knowledge is power and sure the books are all there if you care to read them, but still most of us at some point in our development will seek out guidance - knowledge of good and evil if you like, and unfortunately there's a plethora of creeps ready to take advantage of this. Also I think curiosity is a truly wonderful human quality - it's how we discover new things. What would science be without curiosity ? What would love be without curiosity? We each must find our own way to peace like a man with burning hair must find a pond, and each must have the right to practice communion with the divine mystery in our own way- and hey sex is being very close to God right in actuality? It is through sex that we have the creative power shared by man and woman to create life - that's as close to God as it gets. And yes sex too is a revelation of sorts an emancipation - a transcendence from the mundane - I don't know maybe I have become prudish as I've gotten older - but some sanctity in this most personal of spaces - some kind of respect for our most intimate world and place of wonder is a good thing.
Me To Me Today at 4:00 PM I guess the Byron Shire isn't on there as an option ;) Australia is such a diverse country - when I did my last circumnavigation I really felt how different we can be from one town to the next - but there's these little pockets of artists and pockets of people who like to grow or eat organic food and pockets of people who love original new music - there's all these compassionate heart hotspots which seem to be like magnets for other like hearted types all across the country. I guess though as a generalization that as far as capital cities go Melbourne with it's Green MP and effervescent art, music, coffee and cultural scene is the obvious place for such inclined souls. I do miss living in Melbourne , all it's culture and the great Job opportunities down there, but there's also something so wholesome, laid back and heart felt about this little Byron Shire Bubble we all live in up here - it's hard to give it up. I went back to Melbourne after finishing my degree at Southern Cross and I'm glad I did, and maybe I will again at some stage , but when I was there I was missing things I loved about living in the Byron Shire too - so it's a compromise either way I think. We all got to travel though. I find nothing opens the mind up like a trip to foreign soil and a brand new culture to experience. I guess I've been a bit of a tortoise over the years, moving from here to there and traveling around with little more than one single guitar and a back pack at times. I've made some truly deep and life long friends along the way and many homes away from home. This most recent health challenge for me over the past month with pericarditis has been a real reminder though that I'm just passing through here and no matter how much we like the place we're on borrowed time. Hopefully a good amount of quality borrowed time , but that's not ours to know. I'm not religious but feel a deep spiritual connection to the process of life expressing itself here in the living universe. From what we know energy changes form boiled water evaporates etc god the last 20 years seems to have gone by in a blink. It's truly precious to have a consciousness and a heart to love family and friends and to hold a gratitude , a respect and wonder for life itself expressing itself everywhere around you. All that is a great gift and in a way it's a shared gift coz it doesn't belong only to one of us- no matter how much of the pie you slice up there's still enough for everyone to have their fill. I guess in a way this idea has become my home. All of life and all our hopes, aspirations and dreams we will one day have to give up; have to let go of- our very identities are masks as brief as our mortality, our beliefs can not save us from death itself. Our beliefs might help us accept our fates and give us hope for an afterlife, but as identities we ourselves must cease at the final breath. Physics says we will change forms, our bodies will decay and feed the worms , who'll feed the birds etc etc or our ashes will scattered and our gas released - so where is our true home then? Still Melbourne? Maybe - our maybe home is within the processes of life itself expressing itself weirdly and wonderfully in every corner of the universe and potentially beyond ....... Ha ha ha - ok now that's a rave right there folks. Obviously someone hasn't been getting out enough. :) still just housebound and healing - sorry if any of this seemed heavy - it was intended more along the lines of the unbearable lightness of being ;) but yeah I guess anyone who grew up in Melbourne and watched the VFL sell out his beloved Fitzroy footy club would find himself wandering like a tortoise with a back pack home searching for answers. :) ah it's a bad cliche - but I'm full of them - I guess cliches are good short cuts at times for communicating complexity simply and that's the goal right ? To pass an idea from within to the outside world ? To commune ? I guess home also makes me think of feeling connected or belonging. So thanks facebook friends for accepting my little rant and providing me with a sense of communion with the outside world whilst I chop away day by day here in my little immunosuppressive bubble of recovery. :) Blah , andy
P.S ( I felt since I'd just blurted all that I should add a disclaimer of sorts ;) )
I think the fact that we will one day die is most usefully processed not in negative hopeless just give up what's the point kind of way. I believe more in a positive existentialism - a real sense of giving it everything you've got whilst you've got life to do it with. I believe in responsibility and determination. I think no matter what you suffer through let it temper you like metal in fire - become stronger through your sufferings and do what you believe in. Sometimes I wonder if our consume and discard culture stems from this nature is the devil kind of thinking. If we can not trust life, if we can not trust our very instincts, if we are not a part of the animal kingdom and place ourselves above it then it gives us license for the destruction of nature, the destruction of our home. When I write about just passing through here I don't mean without a sense of responsibility. I think our deeds are weighed up at the end of the day - if even in our own conscience - maybe heaven is simply to be remembered well by those who remain after your gone - in their hearts and their thoughts you live in a loved place. Anyway just wanted to add that to my previous blah. I remember reading about the difference between positive and negative liberty and thinking we all deserve to experience both, with only the one exception that your positive liberty must not impose restrictions on someone else's. Of course that may well be completely unrealistic. I like it in theory though. With heart, Andy
I think the whole wolf whistle thing or yelling out sexual comments to a woman walking by from a car full of male 'mates' is a clear example of a culture of repressed sexual expression. Too many Australian males lack the tools to express their feelings. Testosterone is such a powerful hormone and without tools for healthy expression it rears it's head in all kinds of less attractive ways. As a national male identity I've always felt overall we lack poetry. I think we are so sport driven and sport valued in this country that as young men we really lack skills of communicating the complexity of our hearts. A lot of young men I'm sure as I have, experience the beauty of a woman as a totally overwhelming thing. They don't know at all how to cope with it. It's totally irrational . They make some failed drunk attempts at a bar perhaps to express the feelings they have in their hearts and in their groin - it goes badly , they feel embarrassed and they repress those desires further. In the safety and anonymity of their cars that repressed energy finally gets some small release. I personally think our nation has been dumbed down or rather kept dumb since it's days as a penal colony. Education was seen by convicts and their children as something for the elites. To strive to be better was frowned upon because you were striving to be one of them - some kind of reverse snobbery. I think it's also expressed as tall poppy syndrome. Of course it is changing - Melbourne as a city is a great example of how far we've come, but we've got a long way to go. I think the more young males are exposed to the arts, philosophy, poetry, social sciences etc - the more self aware they become and the more tools they have to express the complexity of their overwhelming experience of beauty and desire the less they will beep their horns. From every corner men are being confronted by Venus - ten story high billboards, glossy magazine covers, tv, internet etc etc - without art as a tool to speak back, without philosophy as tool to process - like a vandal whose graffiti is to pen their name or a crude picture of a phallus on a toilet wall, so too will the less sophisticated and sport valued beep their horns in sing their filthy phrases in the only songs they've learnt to sing in praise of the goddess.
Whilst exploring Adobe Creative Cloud, in particular Photoshop, Premier and After Effects I've come across so many variations of the creative common idea http://creativecommons.org.au/
It's really inspired me to realize the many and varied ways of making money out of sharing rights to use your creative property. I personally paid a few dollars here and there for some pre set packages, vectors and footage. Some of it is free, such as http://www.vectorstock.com/ but I also found http://market.envato.com/ to be a great source and http://www.shutterstock.com/. There's tons of them out there and packed full of creativity and goodness. For musicians too you can upload tracks and allow license either free or at a cheap rate. I find this exciting, the idea that an indie film maker somewhere might use one of my tracks. The whole internet economy is such an inspiring space. I also watched a couple of programs on ABC iview - one was called 'Second Life' all about the growth of virtual on line life. I was blown away to learn that people were making money from 'Second Life' - designing homes, clothes all kind of things for a $1 here and $5 there and making a full time living out of it. I feel like I did the first time I walked into the State Library in Melbourne and realized how much knowledge there was still to learn.
Taken from my facebook page........Hey facebookers, or should I say "hey world" hope you are all doing wonderfully and that you are healthy, have love and respect in your hearts for your self and others, have meaningful beneficent purpose and occupation that conveys you deeply to the meaning of your lives. I'm still bed ridden with pericarditis , but on the mend. I've been watching movies and documentaries and just resting - praying to be more function able and useful sooner than later. Doing lots of soul searching and resting. Of course in moments like this you reflect on your mortality and the world we live in. Mostly I've been trying to keep my thoughts light and buoyant and healthy to cope with the natural anxiety already caused by feeling unwell. Today though I watched a documentary called 'Terms and conditions may apply' and it's got me thinking, 'God it's a strange world we have come to inhabit ' - I mean I guess it always was and always will be. Our relationship to ourselves and others and to death and life itself. I think this whole facebook thing which I've seen some close friends opt out of over the years is a whole new playing field. Of course we share our best pics on here and hope to be liked for how we see or choose to represent ourselves (well most of us anyway- those of us naive enough perhaps to use our real names and dates of birth) but I think we do it because somewhere we believe in some kind of common sense good. I mean we don't live in 1941. Most of us - even me who knows well that big business spend influential money where it helps to buy decision makers still take some leap of faith in trusting in some kind of common sense decency that we hope exists for all good people. And who do I mean by good people? I mean anyone not doing harm to others. Anyone putting their best foot forward in the face of what at times seems like an all mighty shadow. I mean it does get complicated when you take into account foreign policy and the wars waged in our name for our freedom and resources and the refugees that are caused in the process etc etc I mean our way of life may well be harming others and maybe it's naive to think you can live a life free of such things. I went down a Buddhist path in my early twenties after my brother died. I became vegetarian for a while because I didn't believe in harming animals- then it occurred to me that a carrot might have feelings too? And what about the harm we're doing the planet? Where do you draw the line? Anyway blah blah there is some kind of common sense good / moral code I'd like to believe most of us live by regardless of religion - although again I had that challenged a few years ago when someone I trusted and welcomed into my home stole a lot of money from my then girlfriends wallet. That was a wake up call in terms of my own blindness - but I think you all get my drift- if any of you are still reading this blah blah blah - I know Ben is no longer on here to humor my rants anyways I will get to the point. I think most of us would like to believe that there are some parliamentarians who are fighting the good fight to protect what is in all faith some kind of common good and that we will move gradually away from food products and lifestyles that are very bad for our health and our future and be drawn in stead toward the light of some kind of healthy , decent and fair society where we each have at least some kind of negative liberty with freedom from the oppression of corporate agendas - but hey I've also been called as John Lennon once put it (not to me personally of course but....) 'a dreamer'. I'm well aware life feeds on life and that that very feeding process creates more life. I'm also not an idealist - I'm well aware of flaws in the machine and flaws in human nature and so I step forward like I believe most of us do with some kind of basic goodness and good will toward others - although our treatment of refugees really does make me wonder - I believe in national security and the protection of the common good. I also understand that it is a very complex issue , but the instinct in my heart and the teachings from my parents and grand parents still direct me to 'do unto others as you would have done to you' - anyway still I digress - what am I trying to say here? Something not quite fully formed in my mind yet but that longs to be expressed in response to this documentary 'terms and conditions may apply'. God my small brain struggles to put this into words..... I think of books like Chomsky's 'manufacturing consent' and the role of the main stream media within our current system. Look I have no problem being marketed to for the goods I'm interested in. I love organic foods, clothes and sunglasses and cameras and good creative software tools and musical instrument stuff and music and art - I love it as much as the next person and I believe I don't have anything to hide, but if ever we were to be ruled by a tyrant government who had no common decency then I think these privacy issues laid out in the doco 'terms and conditions may apply' would become quite problematic for anyone who disagreed with them. I think it's wonderful and healthy that we can express our views on here regardless of whether we agree. I'm not sure that anyone is changed by what they read on here and from what I've learnt about facebook and google they only share posts to those who like similar things anyway so it's all just preaching to the converted anyway - blah blah I'm not sure if I've said anything much here - I guess I've spent way too much time away from people since this ailment and in need of good conversation. I've watched all 8 seasons now of 'Entourage' - I need some more light brain dead things to watch to keep my mind of more serious stuff - any recommendations? P.s I won't be able to play my gig tomorrow night at The Rails in Byron Bay , which I'm disappointed about, but I'm just not quite yet recovered - my band will still play though under the safe leadership of the extraordinarily talented Luke Ferguson - lots of love to you all and may you have a wonderful weekend with the people you truly love and may they love and respect you equally. Xo ( rant over and out) Andy
Week 7, study week and an opportunity to reflect on interview techniques and how to represent oneself when applying for that dream job. Again I reflect on answering the all important question, "What is it I want to achieve with my life?" It's another "Who am I?" moment. I believe that once this answer is discover then representing oneself authentically should attract that dream job. Something about being truly right for the position as though it has been created solely for you. Of course this is a dream world I'm referring to. In the real world it's survival first and paying rent and things like 'Positive Liberty' are simply ideals, but as an artist these longings scream from our hearts and we must take notice of them, so like the tortoise and the hare we plod along the slow path, developing skills, challenging ourselves, growing, deepening and creating ourselves as our very own unique and authentic brand. So the question is like the Robert Frost Poem, "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood......" Do you take the convention path and do your best to research the company and the position you are applying for and present yourself accordingly or do you continue to follow your heart against the odds and create a position that only you yourself can fill?
What a semester it has been. Half way through I picked up a virus and a couple of days later found myself dialing 000 for an ambulance thinking that I was having a heart attack. Scary stuff! I first noticed I was getting run down when driving home one day I missed my turn off on the hwy by 20 mins. It was a strange feeling. How could I be so vague? Was I losing my mind? It freaked me out a little bit. The next day whilst at the fruit and vege shop buying things to juice (health is first after all) i was overcome with a feeling of faintness, I felt very hot and thought I was about to pass out. The fruitier noticed and offered to carry my bags for me. "I'll be right", I said and sat down for a minute whilst I regathered my strength. I came straight home and went to bed. That was Saturday. On Monday I visited the GP who suspected I had influenza and she ran some blood tests. I was laying in bed resting two days later still awaiting results, trying to get better because I'd booked a crew for a film shoot that night to capture video footage for my song, 'It's all about you', when I noticed my heart beat racing. I was short of breath and experiencing chest pain. I measured my pulse and it was up above 140bpm. I got straight on the iphone and googled my symptoms 'HEART ATTACK' flashed up like the bright lights of Vegas. When the ambulance arrived they seemed concerned that this may be the case based on my symptoms and blood pressure, pulse, oxygen level etc. Once in emergency and after a blood test for enzymes, a chest xray, and ECG and an ultrasound echo of my heart the doctor seemed quite certain I had Viral Pericarditis. "What is the hell is that?" I responded ans soon learnt that the heart is protected by a sack known as the pericardium which protects it from infection. Sometimes when the body is attacked by a virus, the immune system gets over active and inflames the pericardium. A virus it turns out is very clever and difficult for the immune system to fight. I stayed in hospital overnight for observation and was sent home the next day with ibuprofen tablets to bring down the inflammation. I was told it can take up to 3 months to fully recover. This was all very overwhelming at the time. I was mid way through my semester at SAE, I was meant to be helping my darling mum move, whom herself was struggling with COPD or Emphysema as it is more commonly called. Bad timing! Around the same time my barometer, inherited from my maternal Grandfather broke and was permanently pointing to rain no matter what beautiful cloudless blue sky day it was.
The first week was all rest and bed and watching TV series and movies. I watched all seasons of 'Entourage' from start to finish. Not having a TV myself since 9/11, i had a lot of catching up to do. I had to cancel gigs and my teaching work, which for me was very difficult. i get such a sense of purpose and self actualization from doing both. One of the benefits from being an artist is that you are filled with purpose to get out of bed everyday and work passionately toward your dreams and visions of beauty and meaning. Nietzsche said, "Given a why, a man can endure any how" - I believe in this. When we know why it is we must struggle or work hard, when their is a deep felt and meaningful connection to our inner drive then we are truly motivated. for this reason I believe in following one's heart and being true to callings of one's very own weirdness.
Let me just clarify what I mean by weirdness here.
I like to look up words in the dictionary, words I think I know the meaning of and read their often poetically written definitions. It's absolutely beautiful and inspiring for me at times. I have both a complete Webster and a complete Oxford Dictionary and really enjoy reading both. 'Weird' I discovered refers not only to the uncanny but to fate and destiny itself. Shakespeare jumped on this with his Wyrd Sisters in his play Macbeth. The Wyrd Sisters are based on the Moirai of Greek Mythology or as they are also known, the three sisters of Fate. These three sisters would weave together the tapestry of every single human soul's destiny. According to the mythology not even the Gods themselves could undo what the sisters weaved. So to be weird it seems is to be true to ones fate or destiny. No two fates are the same, not even identical twins...anyway so this is the weirdness to which I am referring above.
Anyway I digress......
So weeks turned into months and still I'm recovering. Every time I thought I was getting better I'd go do a gig or spend a day teaching and end up back i bed. I even ended up back in hospital 3 more times. Hospitals are sad and meaningful places. I shared a room with a man who passed surrounded by his family after being read his last rights. It was so deep and so beautiful to there in that most sacred of spaces. On another stay i shared a room with a 22 year old young man who had down irreparable damage to his heart after a night on cocaine. We're so so vulnerable as humans. How thin that line between this world and the next.
But yeah hospitals...... I swore to myself I wouldn't be back in one till it was for the birth of my first child. How wrong that hope turned out to be.
Anyway so on and on I struggled, changing medications, trying everything to no avail and then 2 weeks ago I received a call to let me know my Mum was in emergency struggling for her life. A complication due to her COPD. She passed away peacefully two days later. What a whirlwind it has been - i tell you what. So the point to this post? Well I guess something about the psycho-somatic - and again let's clarify that.... a lot of us, myself include assume psycho-somatic means imagined or not real somehow, when in fact it simply refers to the relationship our mind has to our bodies. I believe, though this is not scientific that my pericarditis, the inflammation of my pericardium that protects my heart, was caused somehow by intuitively knowing my mum would soon be passing. I was protecting my heart from the inevitable break it must now endure. So much to learn about what Jung referred to as the Collective Unconscious. The morning of mum's passing many friends awoke around 4am feeling sick. Somehow they themselves had felt her leave.
RIP Maree Annette Jans
Here is the Eulogy I wrote for her. We buried her on Friday on top of her Son and my Brother Paul. May they now rest in peace together forever.
"Only the good die in August"
My son Paul
My father Jack
And of course she too went in August
Marked by majesty
Dignity and the such
Shocked and struck with the horror and terror of mortality
That sweetest and most startlingly beautiful flower
That takes our breath away every day
Till we can breathe no more
And so shall August forever be
The moon of angels
Maree Annette Jans
What can we say about such a unique character? Have words yet even been invented to describe such incommensurable human beauty? Some kind of diamond she was , rough and beautiful. A peoples person. She loved a chat. She would chew your ear off if you gave her the time of day. It wouldn't matter what walk of life you were from, what age you were, or what you looked like, oh and she would always call you "love". She had a heart of gold and an unparalleled generosity. She'd give you the clothes off her back or the chair she was sitting on if she thought you needed it; and wouldn't take no for an answer. She was always putting other people before herself right to the very end, not wanting to put anyone out and sorry for causing any worry or fuss. She was always there for you if you had a problem or a broken heart. She loved helping others. "People are worth more than possessions" she say in her street smart way. She loved people. The only thing she loved more than people were her dogs. "Dogs are the best people" she'd say in that husky voice of hers.
She loved her family: - her aunts and uncles, she was always talking about them as though they were saints and angels. She thought her uncle Warwick was a movie star and Aunty Thelma and Aunty Kath were like her second mums. Her Aunty Imelda - a great friend. Her cousins Di and Barb , Kevin, Ray, Geoffrey, Maureen and Lynette more like sisters and brothers. Her brother in laws and sister in laws too she thought of as actual brothers and sisters, "Alan Bayliss understands me love" she'd say. Her nephews and their children she adored and kept photos of them around her always and then Julie!!!! her niece, and Julie's two girls Mel and Bec , Oh how Maree's face just lit up when ever she talked about them.
Her friends though also, she thought of as family- Irene another second mum, Barbara and Jenny close sisters, Peter her good friend and carer loyal to the end putting up with her bossing him around.
Maree was heartfelt, sincere and deeply compassionate. She was outraged every New Year's Eve when as a nation we'd spend money on fireworks whilst we still had people homeless on the streets. She'd yell and swear at the TV set and when she'd calm down she'd say, "Family's have to look after each other, we've got to look after our own and then nobody would be homeless!"
And that's why she'd be so wrapped to see her whole family here together today.
She loved to tell stories , she was prone to exaggeration, and was a bit of a braggart too. Her sister Pam , she said"could've been a world famous fashion designer" . Her mum "should've been a famous singer", her younger sister Pauline was her rock and go to person if she needed something really done, how she admired and bragged of Pauline's strength.
Her father Jack, well .....he was just too perfect in her eyes, she idolized him and imitated him in just so many ways and missed him so so much. Her son Paul- her Prince, "could've been anything he wanted" in her eyes- (she never got over that loss- it literally ripped her womb from her body) - her son Andrew......don't get her started on his grossly exaggerated achievements!
She was a mum!
.......that was her greatest attribute - to all the "kids" as she would call them (all the friends of her two boys and all the strays she picked up along the way) they were the "kids" - even once they were in their 40's with children of their own, still she'd call them the "kids". She was like a second mum to so many, and always trying to help.
But let's not make an angel of her- coz she certainly wasn't any angel. She was human in every way- she showed us the best and the worst of this whole damned beautiful thing. She loved to smoke and drink and curse and laugh and cry and celebrate life, (mostly at the same time) ......so much so in fact it got her into trouble. Her good looks got her into trouble too. Every gift is a burden and every burden is a gift. "We've all got our cross to bear " she would say.
Sometimes it seems she even looked for trouble such was the cheekiness in her smile and the glint in her eye.
Oh and she could be nasty too, real nasty, oh she could say some down right horrible things, regrettable things, the devil had her tongue at times....but you can sure whatever nasty things she said to anyone else that she was hardest of all on herself; too hard in fact.
So she showed us her vulnerability too - human, all too human!!!
She displayed all the colours in the rainbow of what it is to be a human being.
But let's celebrate a woman who loved to celebrate- it was her love of cigarettes that killed her. She smoked those holidays like they were a holiday.
She was passionate. She was spiritual , who doesn't remember having their tarot cards read by her at some point? And she was always spot on. Eerie! She was intuitive. She'd always call when something had happened - as if she already knew. She was loyal. She was stubborn. She loved so deeply. Her heart broke many times because she loved so deeply and herein lies the message of her life for all of us, "we're here for such a short time, live your passions, love deeply, even when it breaks you into pieces, speak your truth even when it's not the right thing to say, be who you are even if that makes you a weirdo and above all take care of one another" they were her last words, "take care of each other and be happy" "I'm happy" she said, just before she drifted into her final sleep. "I'm happy" - so with all the tears we know she cried for all her losses and all the heartbreaks she went through, still somehow she was happy and she wished the very same for all of us - so be happy, oh and check your lotto tickets apparently she's sending us all the winner.
Today we listened to a Kevin Spacey talk where he was very inspired about the future of how TV and films are consumed. He talked about Netflix and subscription based entertainment and learning from the failings of the music industry to deal with piracy. we also learnt that the way in which we interact with the medium has changed. We multi-task and multi-engage with many platforms at once. We check our facebook on our tablets and ipads, whilst sending an email from our phones and watching an episode of 'Checkout' on ABC's iview. I was surprised to see just how much money Australians spend each year on the creative industries and made note that the majority was in the interactive mediums such as games etc. Again this inspires me to question where it is that I'm heading. I feel inspired to create a game that goes with an album of songs. Maybe as you reach a new level on the game you get a new song. The game could take place over ten stages. Each stage a new song. so many options but so much still to learn.
The world and our place in it has changed so dramatically within my own lifetime. It seems that George Orwell's predictions in his formidable book 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' have not only come to be, but we now seem to desire them to be so. We share our personal information and photos with the world. We happily share what we are doing, who we are with, our birth dates and other such personal information with the entire planet. We become more and more visible and more and more transparent. I'm also reminded of Andy Warhol's comment about each of us having '15 minutes of fame'. Of course this changes the way we see ourselves also. 'Selfies' have become common place, it seems narcissism is being celebrated as a cultural value. But what does this all mean to the creative industries and how can creatives use these social media platforms to help promote their art? These are great questions and with album sales diminished due to peer to peer sharing, as a song writer I am forced to consider these options more seriously if i hope to sustain my life as a creative artist. Monetizing my YouTube channel seems to be one avenue, but I am thinking also about having a subscription website and an online store for merchandise. Through building up a strong and engaging social media presence I already have the grass roots of my market and through reflecting on what I share I begin to get a sense of myself as a product and what it actually is that I am marketing to the world.
This week we considered job perspectives within Government and working for oneself. We looked at what funding is available and the websites to keep updated with. I sense that creative people often create their own jobs, it comes with the very territory of being creative i think. As a creative person myself I know my mind is always active, I create when ever I am left to my own devices. I guess the goal is to build some kind of commercial model that will help facilitate who I naturally am as a person. As it stands I do all I can to live from my music and teaching, but I make ends meet at best. I strive everyday to reach a level of professionalism where I have the resources to thrive in my life instead of simply surviving.
This week we looked at career pathways and we looked ahead to consider where we see ourselves in ten years. I feel so inspired to be working within an industry that evolves with culture and technology. I have some sense of where I am heading, but still the exactness of it appears amorphous yet full and overflowing with possibility. I know I am working to marry a visual language with that of sound. More and more though I'm becoming inspired toward interactive platforms. I love to connect with an audience and thrive when communication is open and two way. I feel very much at the cutting edge of creative industry and feel inspired to get tooled up for whatever building projects come my way.
Have begun to question the very substance of my identity. How can I best represent the part of myself that serves to propel me into the future I hope for myself? What is my online avatar? What font best represents me? What is my style and visual language? Are their flow charts to support my quest for self mastery? Today we looked at resumes and I realized how antiquated mine is for a practitioner within the creative industries. It will be my goal over the coming semester to make real in roads into cloning my identity into this digital visual medium.
Am very excited to be delving into a deeper understanding of how and where the creative and communication industries cross over. Since childhood I have been excited by my own imaginings and have enjoyed the process of communicating those dreams through communication. I loved telling stories and it's fair to say I grew up in a family culture where telling jokes and exaggerating stories was the norm. My grandfather loved to talk in rhyming slang and looking back I see his influence directed me toward the communicative arts. Through out high school I was involved in our Musical Productions and formed my first band 'Audio Hangover' with Rohan Gunstone AKA Bang Mango Cools. Straight after high school it was off to TAFE to study the foundations of performing arts which open the door to me studying acting at the renowned NIDA. During those years my older brother and hero Paul passed away of cancer which lead me on a deep soul searching journey where I found that nothing could articulate my feelings more exactly for me than music with it's ability to express the abstract and the raw. It was here in music I would most concretely form my sense of self; it was here I could bring together my love of language, poetry, philosophy, performing and story telling in a celebration and transcendence of my own personal experience of being alive, but still I felt there was more to say and so I've reached out through art, community work and now onto film and animation in my quest to articulate beauty and meaning and life. I'm excited by this industry perspectives subject because of my interest in where these communication mediums cross over.