Set yourself on fire

February 27th, 2008

At school, particularly primary school, I was constantly getting in trouble for daydreaming. People place such a negative connotation on that word. Daydreaming. When really it’s a beautiful thing, don’t you think? To be able to transport yourself from wherever you are to somewhere completely different and completely within your control.

It’s okay to dream. Torquil from Stars said so. Last night was a night for dreamers, and it left me feeling so warm and giddy on the inside. That tiny little venue was perfect for the passion emanating from the band as they sang about sex and love and hate and personal ads and threw daisies and roses into the crowd.

Why isn’t there a touch of whimsy like that to everything? Why do these 457 contracts I’m sending out today emit nothing but flat, dull, paperness? The tragedy is, if I threw a little crazy glitter in to the envelope with the paperwork before I sent it off to the client I’m certain the sentiment would be lost on them.

Also, on a morning like this morning I love living in Sydney. Walking up a hill in Potts Point just after 7AM, listening to the thunder rumbling and cracking in the deep purple sky and seeing that hint of yellow, bruised storm light over everything, I felt very glad to be alive. The air was electric, and as a result of that even though I’m running on not enough sleep and have too much work to do I’m feeling very, very good today.

The one where she manages to acid wash her own jeans

February 25th, 2008

Some things in the world are insanely annoying, but you really shouldn’t moan or bitch about them. Like friends and family having an innate sense of the only night you’re at home ALL WEEK and thus phoning and rabbiting on for hours. And I was truly glad to catch up with Angela, but the clothes, unfortunately, will not wash themselves.

Stars tomorrow night. MF Okkervil River on Wednesday. Only (!) Broken Social Scene on Thursday night. Feist on Friday night. Coma and/or rest on Saturday. St Jeromes Laneway Festival on Sunday. Help.

Also, a person like me should never be allowed to handle bleach. I’m absentminded at the best of times, but when it comes to having gloves on covered in bleach flavoured water, I’m not sure how many times a supposedly grown up and sane person should have to say ‘NO WIPING HANDS ON JEANS’ mentally to themselves.

Oh yeah! Who wants free tickets?!

February 24th, 2008

So the obliging people over at Playground Weekender have said I can give two tickets away to anyone who happens to be reading this here blog. Which is kinda fun, don’tchathink? I, myself, never win anything. Although as ‘they’ say, you got to be in it to win it. And I’m rarely in it. Although, I’m a sucker for those old ladies who sit with card tables outside of supermarkets raffling off a rug they’ve made or a food hamper they’ve put together for their local bowling club or whatever. And actually there WAS that time that I won a hairdryer at a trivia night. From memory though it was a question about the Eagles so the less said about that the better.

Anyway.

I figure I’ll give them away as a double pass, because what’s the fun of going to a weekend festival playground without a play mate? No fun, that’s what. And I can tell you, it’ll be a great deal of fun. The venue is amazing, the music will be good, and the ferry ride is an added bonus.

Come on out to the Hawkesbury. I actually live here, so I can tell you from experience, it’s all kinds of nice.

ANYWAY. Aha I have the crap-on-ometre cranked to 10 tonight. If you want the double pass email me at jaune24 at hotmail dot com and tell me somewhere in the email the name of the resort where the festival is being held.

That makes it a competition, right?

You can also email me anything else you like. Like your favourite song lyric or what you had for breakfast or whatever. Not that it’ll help you get the tickets mind, because it’s first in first served in that regard :)

Have a good night y’all because I’m going to bed.

A foreign dawning

February 24th, 2008

Lying in bed Saturday morning listening to music is one of my favourite things to do. Quite possibly THE best part of my week. And this weekend it was Down the River of Golden Dreams by Okkervil River. My favourite (and I can now unequivocally say this) Okkervil River album. And the fact that I’m seeing them THIS WEDNESDAY (which, count ‘em everyone, is 3 SLEEPS AWAY) is only exacerbating my over the top excitement about this.

I love every single song on the album, but for some reason my brain hadn’t really listened to and/or dissected the lyrics to the last song, Seas Too Far to Reach. And holy Jebus people. If there was ever a better example of the sheer lyric genius of Will Sheff, this is it. I keep coming across lines in OR songs that make me catch my breath – it’s those little lyrical moments where the poetry of life itself sweeps you up and makes you oh so thankful that songwriters like this exist. Who can argue with the holy crap level of beauty in this? –

Let’s go back up to your house
And take our clothes off
And just push and pull ourselves
Until we’re deep inside of sleep
And with your body next to me
Its sleepy sighing
Sounds like waves upon a sea
Too far to reach

It’s inspiring is what it is. To read words like that.

Weekend playground

February 20th, 2008

It takes a brave soul, or collective of souls, to embark on the project of a new music festival in greater Sydney. Particularly a long one over 3 days. The festival circuit is pretty full up at times, and between the actual events and the sideshows sometimes we can get a bit worn out. Sydney Festival backing into Big Day Out, anyone? But the people behind Playground Weekender went in wholeheartedly last year. I think they pulled it off, too – not so much for the crowds, but they genuinely had something different as far as Sydney festivals go. And it doesn’t just begin and end with the amazing venue.

I also like that they seemed determined to be in it for the long haul. To this end they seem to have embraced the power of music bloggers and the interwebs in general. I guess they’ve seen how far blogs can go to influence music fans, and presumably this is the impetus behind giving media passes to a lot of Sydney bloggers. Myself included.

I went off my own bat last year. It wasn’t so much the line up that had me excited (even though it wasn’t bad) – the idea of a bona fide music festival in my neck of the woods was a little crazy to me. I mean, Wiseman’s Ferry?! When I lived in Wilberforce it was just over the river!! Crazy.

I wrote quite a bit about both days then. The venue is glorious, and the ferry ride in is really nice too. I’m not crazy excited about the line up this year, but there’s enough to have me curious. And I really hope they have the small local stage again – last year I re-discovered Bridezilla (and now they’re supporting WILCO whodathunkit) and also saw a good set from the Paper Scissors and Richard In Your Mind. And I found Elbow. That was cool.

So I will go along again this year, with the boy, and again breathe the clean air of Wisemans Ferry. I hope they put Dappled Cities on Saturday! I was really disappointed they dropped from last year.

Also cool is they gave me two passes to give away on this here patch of the interwebs. Given the type of blog this is I’m not sure I’ll get takers, but tomorrow I’ll give a shout out and we’ll see what happens.

Riot

February 19th, 2008

Dear Sonic Youth,

Umm… wow.

Respect,

Karen.

Song 8 – A monkey in silk is a monkey no less

February 17th, 2008

Like Janis – Rodriguez

Growing up we always had music in our house. It wasn’t always good music, but it was always there. I have young parents (my Ma was/is particularly young) and they were lax with a lot of rules, but they had particularly hard rules about TV. Well, my mother did. And it’s kinda something I’m glad for now. No TV in the morning, and no TV in the afternoons when we got home from school. We’d all sit down and watch TV at night though. Usually together. I have foggy (and undoubtedly daggy) memories of A Country Practice and Hey Dad. But there were no such rules about music. There was always, and could always be, music.

All my early memories of music are tied up with situations that actually happened in our house or with our family. The Little River Band drags up memories of my Mum and Dad play fighting through the house over who got to pick the music they put on – I remember my Mum bent over in the middle of the lounge room, laughing her head off, with my Dad wrestling her from behind. Clutched at her middle was one of his LRB records – she’d go through most anything to avoid listening to LRB. Credence Clearwater Revival transports me back to the beer garden at the Shanty Hotel in Ladysmith, and in particular that time I fell from the top of the slippery dip in the pretty basic playground. Some old and probably drunk man had told me that if I climbed right to the top I could see emus and kangaroos in the paddock behind the pub. One fat lip later and I knew he was talking out his ass.

I wish I could remember, though, why Cat Stevens makes me feel sad. I get such a melancholy fall over me when I listen to his music and I have no idea why. I do know, though, that Mum once told me I was given the middle name Lisa after the song Sad Lisa. I’m going to have to ask her about that, because I’m not sure it’s true.

Cold Fact by Rodriguez was my mothers favourite record to play for a lot of years. Particularly while she was cleaning. To this day, when I listen to Sugar Man I can close my eyes and smell the dust. I can see that bolt of sunlight that used to cut through the lounge room from the East facing window (the one that doesn’t exist now owing to a still-unfinished extension to the side of the house), hitting the dead middle of the carpet. When she started vacuuming dust mites would kick up and dance in that yellow shaft of light – I used to sit balled up on the couch, my legs out of the way of the vacuum cleaner, and watch the way those little glittery speckles would fall dancing into the light and then out of it. I’d to sit there, breathing in, knowing that those little particles were moving inside of me. And that used to make me feel warm and alive on the inside.

So by default Rodriguez, and particularly his album Cold Fact, was a massive part of my childhood. And when I consider his music now, I can see how it played a really important part in influencing my music taste today. I don’t think all that political folk like Ani DiFranco I was listening to maybe 5 or 6 years ago (and still now) was any sort of coincidence. I thought at one point it found me, but in hindsight it was definitely the other way around.

Sixto Rodriguez himself is an entirely compelling character. When Cold Fact was initially released in the US in 1970, it got half-assed reviews and really no audience at all. The crazy thing was, somehow it made its way to the Southern Hemisphere (and notably Australia) and found a cult following. Even crazier was that Rodriguez himself had no idea about the level of his cult status until his daughter stumbled across a South African fan site in the late 90s. Prior to that he’d slipped so far into obscurity that fans were rumouring his death.

It’s a shame, really, that he didn’t get the notoriety he deserved when his music was being made. Perhaps he’d gone on to make more. And his songs are so full of cutting political and social commentary, and he has such a straight laced delivery that you can’t help but think, had he had a bigger audience at the time, his music could have been some of the most important of his era.

I re-found his music around 5 years ago. One Christmas at home in Wagga Mum was showing me the wonders of her new computer with broadband. An IT savvy friend had installed Kazaa and for a long time she was the biggest music pirate I knew. Anyway, noodling through her music files I came across some Rodriguez. I hit play and I felt like I was physically whipped backward through time and space. Not only that, I was utterly astounded by the lyrics. It’s stuff that I wouldn’t have noticed as a kid – the acute political tones in all the songs, and the stark stories he was telling. I mean, when I was seven I thought in Sugar Man when he sang about ‘jumpers, coke, sweet Mary Jane’ he was singing about pullovers, soft drink and some girl. But listening to his songs at the age of around 25 I was utterly staggered, and completely fell in love with the songs.

I bought a copy of Cold Fact pretty much the second I got back to Sydney, and I listened to it solidly for a good few weeks. I immersed myself in those songs, and got to know them all over again. It was a weird sense of both stumbling across something I never knew existed, and also of déjà vu.

Added to alla this, I saw him live with my Mum last year. It was one of those ‘oh my God I never in a million years thought that I would experience this’ moments. A touring company, recognising the crazy level of his Australian fan base, bought him out for the Blues and Roots festival. What we were presented with when he finally took to the stage at The Factory last year was something falling between senility and drunkenness. I wrote about it a little here. But it was an experience I shared with my Mum, and that made it special.

The song that stood out to me most at the time at the time I re-found his music, and the song that is still my favourite on the album, is Like Janis. There’s some contention about the title (on some albums the name is swapped with Jane S. Piddy on the track listing) so to clear things up I’m talking about the song that starts ‘And you measure for wealth’. It’s a cheerful little melody, and catchy as hell, but really what grabbed me from the outset (and what always grabs me) is the lyrics.

In my really cynical moments I tend to declare that people in general suck. Of course that’s not actually the truth, and there are people in this world who feed my soul and body more than I can articulate here, but there are some staggeringly mundane, dull and annoying people in this world. And it seems to be entirely through choice too. I mean, it’s a choice to bitch incessantly about the state of your life while making no move to change it, or to default to blame-making the second something goes wrong with your life, or to not want to explore even the big things (let alone the tiny, little things) with your ears or your eyes, or to lay actual money down on the CD of some Australian Idol contestant. And of course I’m generalizing. But so many people seem to move through life needing A) material possessions and B) to hold on to the idea that the way the world sees you, and the opinion of other people, is the total sum of your being. And they spend their whole lives obsessing about it.

Anyway, in amongst that tirade is the reason I love this song. Sixto has a general dissatisfaction with not only the government and political situation of the time, but also of the people in the world who weren’t true to themselves or to their true sense of being. Lyrically, this song completely hits the nail on the head –

And you measure for wealth by the things you can hold
And you measure for love by the sweet things you’re told
And you live in the past or a dream that you’re in
And your selfishness is your cardinal sin

And you want to be held with highest regard
It delights you so much if he’s trying so hard
And you try to conceal your ordinary way
With a smile or a shrug or some stolen cliché

And also –

‘Cos emotionally you’re the same basic trip
And you know that I know of the times that you slip
So don’t try to impress me, you’re just pins and paint
And don’t try to charm me with things that you ain’t

Simple? Yes. Amazingly effective? Oh yes. And at the time, and still now, it resonates with me more than I wish it did.

So this post turned into being more about the man and the album than about the song, but oh well. I think it probably had to be that way. And while the live experience in 2007 was not really what I’d hoped it would be, it didn’t take away from, in my eyes, the canon of the man. He is totally unappreciated for the music he made and what he was trying to say. If more people saw the world as acutely and articulately as he did back in the 60s and 70s, well, then, it would be a very, very different place.

Man

February 13th, 2008

Longest. Week. Ever.

Wait, it’s only Tuesday?

February 12th, 2008

Has anyone seen my camera USB cable?

Man oh man am I sick of losing things.

In the process of attempting to unearth a gig t-shirt from early last year (one that I was sure existed but on the other hand thought maybe I’d dreamt up) I found some other t-shirts that I had completely forgotten I owned. I don’t buy t-shirts at gigs really. But I am in possession of a Modest Mouse t-shirt and also a Black Keys t-shirt from the Great Escape last year. I do remember buying that one, now that I think about it. It was a really nice colour green and the picture was pretty.

Anyway.

Today bit the proverbial big one. I get so incredibly frustrated with the stupidity of people. And before someone lovingly points it out, yes, I do appreciate the arrogance in that sentence.

I feel a bit fat blah sitting inside of me and I can’t shift it. And alarmingly enough, listening to The Coroners Gambit by the Mountain Goats is not helping.

Oh, BUT, Heretic Pride is out next week. We all have to cross our fingers and our toes and our eyes that my copy is winging its way to me as I type and not sitting in a warehouse somewhere. I swear to god, if I have to wait to get mine until AFTER they appear on the shelves, well, it won’t be pretty. And not in a violent way. In a stroppy, wailing kinda way. And no one wants that.

It’s been quite some time since I found myself in a real funk. And I mean in one of those all-encompassing, all-consuming kind of mean red moods that stretches for days or even weeks and colours everything with the sort of grey created only by fog and rain. Since I met the boy, really. Which is telling I guess. And as fabulous and lovely as he is, it’s as much about finding an outlet for the stuff I love as it is about finding someone generally. It’s about understanding. Because honestly, on a day like today when you look around yourself and see nothing but supernatural stupidity and appalling mediocrity, it’s the thought of that understanding that stops you acting out your homicidal tendencies.

The world shines

February 11th, 2008

• A phone call from a friend needing a sounding board has kinda bled me and my wee brain dry tonight.
• So all you get is point form.
• As much as Bowie putting his paw on my hand while I’m typing might be the cutest thing in the world, it’s kinda distracting.
• Wonderful weekend.
• Anyone wanting to experience maybe 25 wedding parties at once should plant themselves at Circular Quay just past the International Passenger Terminal on a Saturday afternoon. Weddingpalooza I tell you.
• I am of the opinion, having seen Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood, that he is some sort of crazy acting genius and if he doesn’t win the Oscar for best actor the world is all topsy turvey.
• Every time I type topsy turvey I want to type Turvey Tops. Anyone who lives in Wagga will understand this.
• I’m hungry, but given my sleep stupidity of late eating right now would be the dumb thing to do.
• The most remarkable thing about coming home to you, is the feeling of being in motion again. It’s the most extraordinary thing in the world. I HAVE TWO BIG HANDS AND A HEART PUMPING BLOOD AND A 1967 COLT 45 WITH A BUSTED SAFTEY CATCH. Etc. Words cannot describe how much I am loving that song tonight.
• It was only when I started loading CDs into my iTunes on my new fancy pants portable hard drive that I realised how many CDs I have that A) I haven’t listened to yet (despite previous promises to do so) and B) how many I have that aren’t already on my iPod. So I’ll be listening to those then, I guess.
• Bed now.

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