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Newsletter Issue #139: 22 Apr 2007

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The Old Songbook

My brother has found a songbook from 1974, written in my sixteenth, his fifteenth year. It is a relic from the days when the two of us, with one or two friends, recorded cassettes in my bedroom, the front room of our house in Invercargill. It was made to accompany 'But Not the Majic Seal', the second of our releases and the first to be credited to Crazy Olé and the Panthers (the first of our cassettes, 'Good Taste and The Public Tongue', had been made in the name of Evintrude the Ruth). The book is handmade, with lined notepad pages (and some unlined, slightly smaller pages bearing archly titled watercolour illustrations). In pen and Letraset, the lyrics for the original songs on the cassette, mostly mine with a poem of Lindsay's, are set out neatly. In the front of the book is the track listing, which also includes some Velvet Underground classics and the finale from Peter Hammil's 'Plague of Lighthouse Keepers' off Van Der Graf Generator's H to He album; in the rear of the book are the personnel credits. I have taped a picture of a termite queen from Maeterlink's book on the subject in the front, as though to segue directly into rock'n'roll from my school days.

The lyrics are embarrassing; some are derivative of Lou Reed, others of William Burroughs' surrealist sci-fi, but the most shameful are the songs about women, drugs and sex written by a boy who'd not been kissed, nor stoned, nor really in love. Yet they are real songs; they are little different from those I write now in their attitude, only in their inexperience. They are full of recognisable attempts at the same wit I deploy now, as if my later experiences only confirmed something, about myself and about the opposite sex that I instinctively knew. In other ways the adult writer is presaged; the same symetrical verses and short, tail-like choruses, a similar feel for rhythm and rhyme, and even my favourite words and sounds are there ("She's a girl of the world"). There is even a long, pretentious quote (in French, no less) from another writer (uncredited, but probably Rimbaud). The tunes and chords may be simple and are sometimes suggestive (as are the wry, world-weary lyrics) of the cloying melancholy of youth, but they are effective and not too far from those I still play.

When I learned a little more of life, I quit trying to write songs about it; the only exceptions were two cutesy rinky-dink love songs, not meant to be taken seriously, exercises in twee. When I say I quit, I mean that I kept coming up with the musical and lyrical phrases, but lacked the confidence that it takes to gather them together and say, "here is a song".

When I resumed serious songwriting, so as to have something for my bands to play, I avoided the painful and tricky subject of love and reality; surrealism, protest, and drugs were my inspirations. Even after I had written good personal songs, I was often unable to sing them clearly and loudly enough: for years I hid behind the notion that I was not a good singer. Part of the problem was, that I had no very clear notion of who I was singing for; my vocal performances would vary widely, depending on my self-conscious interpretation of the context. What exactly does it mean, making the private public? It seems to me that, unless you are an emotional idiot, you will face this problem again and again until such time as you are prepared to assert, admit, confess or boast that you are an artist, and need not be subject to the same considerations as other people. This is what is meant by suffering for one's art, and it is true whether you are a painter, moviemaker, or whatever.

By the same token, if you want to write love songs, you need to deal with the girlfriend reading them over your shoulder. If her critique is drying up your inspiration, it's likely the same story in bed, and she doesn't need to go out with an artist, any more than you need to sleep with a critic. A lover who gives you carte blanc, a muse who doesn't know she is one, or a partner who likes to understand your songs, but who accepts that sometimes you don't understand them yourself, and who feels flattered when you write a good song, not a flattering one; these are your friends. What they have in common is that the song is free to exist above and beyond your relationship (unless you have children, it is the part that will survive the longest). It's only a map of the battlefield, not the action itself.

The song writing techniques I had learned in the years after writing the songs on But not the Majic Seal were ways of mitigating those faults I had seen in my older songs once experience, of life and love and rock music, had shed its light on them. However, we always remain callow in some way. If we are not still at risk of being in the wrong, about love and about life, then there is no reason to continue writing rock songs, which are, after all, the record of the crimes and follies of mankind.

I've made mistakes in the past, but it's the future that excites me.

- George Henderson (The Puddle)
As written on his blog at http://www.myspace.com/thepuddlenz


Each issue we try to feature an editorial written by someone outside of the muzic.net.nz team, who is either in a band, is in the industry or is just plain fanatical about music. If this sounds like something you'd like to do, drop a line to lisa@muzic.net.nz.

 

Adi Dick

1) What is your greatest achievement?

I think it's hard to pin down a greatest achievement as a single event because every step along the way for me has been crucial. Being accepted into the Red Bull Music Academy in Seattle in 2005 was a big one for me because that single experience redefined my direction in music and gave me a sense of validation of my music on an international level. Other things like playing sold out shows in theatres around the country with Fly My Pretties were good moments, having my parents in the crowd finally seeing "what it is I do for a living"! Performing solo before 2000+ on the OE Brasil Tour at St James in Auckland and having the crowd sing along with me.

2) What do you think could be done to make NZ music even better?

I think it's up to the musicians to make NZ music better. Music is an art form that you have to study. Anyone can make music now with the way technology is growing so it's up to musicians to present music in it's best light. In terms of the industry getting better continued support from venues and bar owners to provide places for musicians to play is always neccessary. I think the more places people have got to play the better they will get as musicians. Also support from local councils and government departments is always going to be vital in the uplifting of NZ music - keep it coming Helen!

3) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I will be settled into my own house somewhere in Europe with my partner. I will have a nice little simple studio set up and would have released many albums under different aliases worldwide.

4) What is the best thing about making music?

The best thing about making music is making the ideas in your head come to life or creating things you weren't expecting. Pushing the boundaries on a regular basis and surprising yourself. It's a great way to express yourself and be an individual without worrying about what others may think - satisfy yourself.

5) What advice would you like to give to other aspiring musician?

Remember how you got into music and remember what it is you love about music. I remember singing and dancing around the lounge to the Jackson 5 when I was a kid and that feeling has never left me. I didn't know what it was I loved about it I just loved it. Some things just don't need explaining and to me music is like that, I just love it so I'm compelled to get better at it and learn more. To me music is my life so I'm constantly studying it. Always study music, don't be afraid to check out things you wouldn't usually check out, there's always something to be learnt from all styles of music and the way people play it. Enjoy it, music is fun!

Check out Adi Dick on:

muzic.net.nz
MySpace
Amplifier

Adi's new album 'Our Place' comes out on 1 May!

 

 

 

Tommy

1) What is your greatest achievement?


One of my my greatest achievments was giving up drugs, this was only possible through perhaps my greatest achievments; learning the sacred art of surrender. Surrender is an archaic paradox in that the ego, or the 'self', believe that in doing so it will mean anihalation when in reality true surrender to what is, is one of the most liberating and grace filled experiences available to human consciousness. The darkness of drug addiction and the shame and fear based emotions connected with it were my greatest guide into awareness. My greatest achievment then was letting myself be guided.

 
2) What do you think could be done to make NZ music even better?
 
I love music absolutely. I am utterly devoted to it and mesmirised by it. At great risk of being unfashionable or unpopular though, I will readily admit that I have very little regard for the race or nationality of music or the race or nationality of the composer. I believe societys and/or governments should support there artists and creative minds and I also believe that appreciators of art, music, phillosophy should put there attention to those arts that speak most deeply to them irespective of the culture that spawned them.

3) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
 
From this limited vantage point I see myself in 5 years on one of 2 paths A) persuing music internationaly, possibly in LA or London; or B) finishing my masters degree in psychotherapy and in private practice somwhere beautiful in rural New Zealand.
 
4) What is the best thing about making music?
 
I believe all people are equally gifted and talented and all gifts and talents are of equal value. What is most beautiful about making music to me is the same thing that is most beautiful about being a carpenter to a carpenter and that is the sense of 'homecoming' or 'belonging' that is inherent in any aspect of my experience with music.

5) What advice would you like to give to other aspiring musicians?
 
If I were to give advice to other aspiring musicians I might say: Measure your sucsess not on by peoples response to your music but on how true you are to it.

Check out Tommy on:

Amplifier

 

 

What's New

New Artists

The following new artists were added this week:

Debbie Harwood

Robot Monkey Orchestra

Chris Matthews

Porterslade

Hammond Gamble

Mamaku Project, The

Daniel Munro

Leery

Newtown Street Justice

Reviews

Check out the following great reviews:

Secluded By Right

Samuel Flynn Scott

Brutally Frank

Pluto

Competitions

Congratulations to T. Donnelly from Hamilton and G. Wellman from Christchurch who both now have a new copy of Tempo 38's split album with Provoke - 'Brothers In Battle'.

During NZ Music Month (May) we will be giving away a whole lot of NZ Music Month merchandise including badges, stickers and bags. Keep an eye on our competitions page for full details.

 

 

 

NZ Top 10 Singles

  • DANCE MONKEY
    Tones And I
  • CIRCLES
    Post Malone
  • SENORITA
    Shawn Mendes And Camila Cabello
  • CATCHING FEELINGS
    DRAX Project feat. Six60
  • BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
    Ed Sheeran feat. Khalid
  • DON'T CALL ME ANGEL (CHARLIE'S ANGELS)
    Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus And Lana Del Rey
  • RANSOM
    Lil Tecca
  • THE GREATEST
    Six60
  • GOODBYES
    Post Malone feat. Young Thug
  • SOMEONE YOU LOVED
    Lewis Capaldi
View the Full NZ Top 40...
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