Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Songs They Should Play But You Won't Hear At Christmas

I hate Christmas Carols.
I hope Frosty melts.
I hope Rudolph gets hit by a bus.
Die, Little Drummer Boy, Die!!

Here is my Top 5 Christmas Songs List:
  • Silent Night by Simon & Garfunkel

  • Let's Sing Another Song, Boys by Leonard Cohen

  • Who's Gonna Make The Gravy? by Paul Kelly

  • Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis by Tom Waits

  • Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues

If you can think of any others please let me know. I need to make up a playlist...something to drown out those damned carols by candle light...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Under The Influence

Last year my brother, Neil, developed stomach Cancer. It came as quite a shock to our family, as Neil has always been the active one, the rugged outdoors type - forever building something, diving off something else, or embarking on another trip to far off places. He has always been an active sportsman, being quite handy at both Cricket and Golf. So it was quite a shock. It was surprising and sad as well. Our mother died several years earlier from Cancer, and a couple of years later our father developed prostate Cancer, which he has had to live with since.

Thankfully, my brother responded well to treatment, no doubt helped by his relatively young age, otherwise good health, and positive attitude. For the last couple of months he has enjoyed being officially classed as "in remission."

I have no musical reference for my brother, no list, no influence. He is, perhaps, without doubt, the most unmusical person I have ever met. There are only a couple of things that come to mind. He was always quite keen on Tom Jones' "She's A Lady" as a child, which would always get him stirred endlessly. Funny, it seems quite cool now. Then, of course, there was the Onkyo stereo, one of the best that money could buy, for its time. Unfortunately, Neil only had five or six records, which he never played! Plus, the damned thing was stuck on AM, alternating between the races and football. What a waste of equipment!! Meanwhile, I'm stuck somewhere wearing out needles and blowing up speakers, whilst he is rejoicing in the modulated, crystal clear sounds of sports radio...

In recent years, I seem to recall, he has ventured into cd territory. I have a memory of his wife waving a cd frantically, trying to let us know how hip they are now that they own something along the lines of "Dad's BBQ Album" or "Dad's Twenty Great Driving Songs." You know what I'm talking about - the type of cd that cost $2.00 at Crazy Waldo's Mad, Mad Discount World!

Now, on the other hand, my other brother, Terry, had a fantastic and lasting influence on me with regards to music. Whilst I like to think I would have found my way to him eventually, it was Terry who introduced me to the music of Frank Zappa. Sure, he started me with Billy The Mountain (Just Another Band From L.A.) and that "white album with the pencil on the front" (Live At The Fillmore).

By many standards, Terry has had a tough life, surrounded by cigarettes, alcohol and various other substances, along with the odd run in with the long arm of the law. (Cue: I Fought The Law & The Law Won by The Clash, Bad Boy For Love by Rose Tattoo and maybe The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy).

Terry, along with Neil, left school early. "Yes, leave quietly and quickly or be thrown out noisily on your ass!" The benefit to me was that Terry suddenly had money, which meant he suddenly started buying records. In amongst all the fights, the drunken arguments, the fear, the homelessness, and the guilt, there were some great moments discovering unforgettable music. He would come home nearly every week with another one or two albums, play them maybe once, and leave them around for me to soak up every last word, note, chord, lyric, and liner note. By the time he left a copy of Pop History Vol 7: The Mothers Of Invention, I was hooked. I spent the next few years making sure I had every Zappa release there was - not an easy trick in Australia in the mid-seventies!

Over the years, Terry came and went several times, but he always left behind The Music, so when I was working all I worried about was new stuff. Eventually, he would gather all of his albums and leave me with... what? It wasn't nothing - I still had all those memories doing what you can't do with a cd - pouring over the album artwork and liner notes of hundreds of great albums. He left me with a great legacy of extremely varied music - music that went beyond Top 40. Music that has for the most part, stood the test of time. And yes, I have collected most of those albums on cd, it's not the same as those old, worn record covers and crackly scratched vinyl.

I can still see him now, watching Matt Taylor sing Black And Blue or I Remember When I Was Young, or listening late at night in the dark as he tried to tell me just how good Lobby Lloyd & the Coloured Balls were...

The following are just a brief sample of some of the influence of my brother, Terry:

Made In Japan Deep Purple

We Sold Our Souls For Rock n Roll Black Sabbath

Babylon By Bus Bob Marley & The Wailers

In Search Of The Lost Chord The Moody Blues

Just Another Band From L.A. Frank Zappa & The Mothers

Wish You Were Here Pink Floyd

My Aim Is True Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Crime Of The Century Supertramp

Wired Jeff Beck

Physical Graffiti Led Zeppelin

Welcome To My Nightmare Alice Cooper

The Wedding Album Cheech & Chong

One More From The Road Lynyrd Skynyrd

Livin' In The Seventies Skyhooks

Rumours Fleetwood Mac

Four Seasons Sebastian Hardy

Boy From The Stars Jim Keyes

Aqualung Jethro Tull

A couple of weeks ago, I won a double pass to see Zappa Plays Zappa, a concert by Dweezil Zappa, featuring Frank's music, and image, on stage. Neither Terry or myself ever got to see Frank live, so this would have to be the next best thing. Last weekend my brother advised me he has Lung Cancer. His doctor told him he would "probably" make it to his 50th birthday in April, 2008. And so the battle begins again. This time he is not alone. In recent years he has found peace and love, with a wonderful partner and resides in idyllic, calm surroundings. I hope I can be as positive an influence on him as his musical influence has been on me.

"Eddie, are you, kidding?"

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Have Never Been To Paris, Nor Have I Been To Texas

For those interested in the full details, here is the playlist from 'Yep, I Know That Feeling...' I hope you like it. And before anyone mentions it, I ripped off the quote way before Primal Scream used it. So there! They are all great songs for a road trip or relaxing and reflecting by a fire.

01: Mr Bojangles
Jerry Jeff Walker from the album The Best Of Jerry Jeff Walker
02: South Of The Border
Chris Isaak from the album Baja Sessions
03: Mexican Divorce
Ry Cooder from the album Paradise And Lunch
04: The Gypsy's Wife
Leonard Cohen from the album Recent Songs
05: Gone Fishing
Chris Rea from the album Auberge
06: Beside You
Van Morrison from the album Astral Weeks
07: Look To The East
Steve Poltz from the album One Left Shoe
08: It Makes No Difference
The Band from the album Across The Great Divide
09: Rita May
Bob Dylan from the album Masterpieces
10: Not The Best People
Ry Cooder from the album Primary Colours
11: Let's Burn Down The Cornfield
Randy Newman from the album 12 Songs
12: L.A. Freeway
Jerry Jeff Walker from the album The Best Of Jerry Jeff Walker
13: Without You
Nilsson from the album The Best Of Nilsson
14: Came So Far For Beauty
Leonard Cohen from the album Recent Songs
15: My Old Man
Jerry Jeff Walker from the album The Vanguard Years
16: Tell Me There's A Heaven
Chris Rea from the album The Best Of Chris Rea
17: Amazing Grace
Steve Kruse from the album Jacob And Esau

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Sounds Of The Bush

A couple of weeks ago I went away for a few days up bush. Fishing. Well, not really up bush. And not really fishing, either. But not in the city. In the country. Okay, okay...we stayed in a Caravan Park. But no one was in the park so it felt like we were all the middle of nowhere. Except for the cars that went by the main street that we sided onto. At least we had the mighty Goulburn River flowing not more than 10 metres away.

We needed to pack a fair amount of gear, so I decided to take the wagon for a run. No cd player in the EB, so we had to listen Old School, to mixed tapes. Complete with dodgy tape deck, fading left to right, both, right, left, and so on. Ahhh, mixed tapes. One of my most favourite hobbies. Of course, now I have moved on to mixed cd's, or mixed playlists. But they don't have the same ring to them, the same romance, as mixed tapes do. And I have plenty of them. Some excellent ones that have stood the test of time, and have even been updated to cd, or playlists. Things like the Old Stuff series....but you'll read more about them at another time. Some of them were disatrous, such as 'Random 1st Songs.' I'd previously made up a mixed tape of the best '1st songs on the album' and thought I'd replicate the magic with randomly picking up albums and taping the 1st song....with a view to doing 'the best close of side 1' and 'the best of the last tracks' etc, etc... What a disaster!!

So anyway, I set forth from home with my two brothers-in-law, listening to artists such as The Pogues, Van Morrison, Gordon Lightfoot, Ry Cooder, and a few other ones on mixed tapes with titles like: "Yep I Know That Feelin'..." and "This One" or "That One." The titles were very important. That's a whole posting of it's own. There's even one called, "I Don't Know What Happened Here" because what was written on the cover is not what is on the tape, and has never been put to tape. Ho hum. Like I said, so anyway, we had a great time listening to our favourite old songs, no instant skip, no programming; we just listened to each song in total, errors and all. I remember listening to Jim Croce and we were all singing along (it's Jim Croce, you cannot not sing along to it) when the tape suddenly cuts into about 5 seconds of Redgum's I Was Only Nineteen. Obviously the current tape had been taped over something else. Glorious!

At night we listened to a selection of music that we all brought along. Mine were predominantly the Old Stuff series. Joe had a selection of cracking Irish music, and Tony had just recently made his first mixed cd. (Yes it's 2007). Remember when they found Japanese pilots shot down over the Pacific some 40 years after World War II ended, and they had been in hiding, still thinking the war was on? That's Tony. Just replace World War II with Resistance To Computers. Ah yes, a Luddite by any other name...

Well, as it happens, either the cd's were damaged (Not Mine!) or the batteries were going flat, or the cd player didn't like burnt cd's, or the cold, or something. Whatever... We found that towards the end of the cd's the music was repeating and jumping. What were we going to do? Hell, I've been going on the "fishing" trips for more than 15 years, and most times do not even take a rod, but I have ALWAYS had music...

It was a blessing in disguise. For we found this other dial on the portable music device. We found the radio! Not only the radio but a gem of a station shoved way, way in the back, out of the FM spotlight that spews forth what most of us accept 5 days a week. I'm talking about the excellent Upper Goulburn Community Radio

I can't remember all of the stuff I heard. It was more of a feeling, a vibe about being really excited about everything they play, about everything they do. I suspect that feeling resounds within most Community Radio Stations. I'm not sure what this station is like during the week, or day time hours, but, man, they entertained us whilst we sat around the camp fire, and had a few drinks, or played a bit of 500. It became a perfect counterpoint to the simmering tensions that are inevitable when you spend too much time with the same people. Our usual three days was extended to five...What were we thinking? (cue 'Insane In The Membrane')

We heard some stuff by the Brewster Brothers (ex Angels). Melissa Etheridge did a knockout cover of a Tom Petty tune. Unheard of on most staions conscious of time, and fast time at that, UGCR even played Neil Young's new 18 minute epic, Ordinary People. But the standout, the find of the year was "Don't Dump Your Lover On The Phone" by The Pigs. Not only is this four piece band funny, but they can really play. A mixture of folk, rock, bluegrass, country, punk, you name it. And they can sing, too! Pardon my ignorance for not knowing them prior. I can just imagine what they would be like live. I'll be keeping an eye out for them. In 2008, they will definitely be on my Badger Creek playlist. Find out more about The Pigs on their website: I am sure it's not everyone's cup of tea. But I'm sure they don't try to be either.

Thank you Upper Goulburn Community Radio. I'm sure I'll forget the discomfort of being rained out. I'm sure I'll forget the damn flies that attacked my bacon and eggs. I'll surely forget, at my own peril, that my brother in law is a fascist pig when it comes to playing 500. I'm sure one day I will even forget the serial killer that camped in the tent just fifty metres away, and who came and went at mysterious times (cue 'Suzanne' by Randy Newman). But, I'll never forget to tune in to 106.9 whenever I can pick up the signal.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Well, here it is. For anyone that ever cared to know that The Eagles provided the harmonies on Rider In The Rain or that Big Gay Heart was an ode to Gram Parsons, then this is the website for you. It is almost universally but not quite entirely dedicated to music. And stuff. Old stuff. Probably useless stuff. My stuff. I need to empty my head of all this "stuff." So, yeah, sure, it's about music, right. But sometimes it's about other stuff, too. Stuff that music makes you think about. Or maybe stuff that music makes you forget. Or helps you forget. Now, where was I? I forgot. Oh, yeah. Music. Enjoy.

Music Is The Best

Information is not KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge is not WISDOM
Wisdom is not TRUTH
Truth is not BEAUTY
Beauty is not LOVE
Love is not MUSIC


- FZ

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