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