Dead people I have known

Turns out Shayne Carter knows quite a lot of dead people. Some he knew well, others were at more of a distance, but they all made it into this book, which he locked himself up in Aramoana to write.*

But don’t worry – this isn’t a dirge or a eulogy parade. There’s plenty of verve and hilarity.

The chronicles of late 70s and early 80s Dunedin were familiar – cold and distant flats, students, parties, mishaps, run-ins, run-aways, violence, love. All the elements of the blurry collective memory of early punk and post punk coming-of-age of New Zealand music.

And all that is the backdrop for the more interesting story – which is mostly about survival. Battling the drink and the New Zealand way (you’re good but not that good). Dealing with and not dealing with the cards life deals you. Mental health, people being shitty to each other. These are the gritty experiences that become musical pearls.

And the music! The performances, the personalities. The highs and lows of a creative career; performances to remember, awards nights to forget. The bigger the successes, the lower the not successes seem. Driven to LA airport in a stretch limo; going on the dole the next week. It’s all written up in a beautifully authentic and honest style.

It’s a great read. I would have liked more about how the songs were written; perhaps a little doco accompaniment – some samples of the song and talking about the writing process. A greatest hits from his point of view, with commentary or sheet music.

Perhaps that’s the next project?

*Thanks to Mike for the gift.

Not much rhythm, not many blues

It’s a little bit all over the place. The painting got done, the back hall and three doors. The tidying made everything messier before it evened out a bit. Van got a warrant. Started on the fence – planning it at least. Retaining wall finished (not by me). Driveway next week.

Caught up with friends. Watched footy. Had meals watching the sun set. Sorted computer. Got an intriguing email about a future project. Listened to classical music. Slept in. Stayed up late.

Time on Savage Street

In between all that read Decline and Fall on Savage Street, by Fiona Farrell. The fiction version of the earthquakes and a companion to The Villa at the Edge of the Empire. A series of vignettes; scenes that drift in an out of different times, characters and situations. I recognised so much of my old hometown so many of the scenes and houses and people.

You can tell it was meticulously researched and beautifully and patiently and skillfully written. The end result is like a master painter’s brag book – every page perfection. It’s precisely detailed, but like a pointillist painting, leaves you more with an impression; cloudy but clear at the same time.

The eel tale (short chapters and illustrations) created counterpoint; a different rhthym to the busyness of the above ground tale.

My over-riding feeling after reading it was life will find its rhythm – and I realised I hardly checked my phone all week.

Here comes the sun

Daylight saving arrived, along with the weird slowness of the first day. It’s like you’re constantly ahead of yourself, and there’s plenty more time to do things. You get it done, check the time, and wait, what? The light is there, so you decide to keep going.

And, plenty got done, some clearing out for painting, tidying, doors removed and sanded for painting. Raining for the next three days though, so we’ll see how that goes. News that a friend’s brother died. Not the generation ahead of me, but, my generation, fade away, light growing dim. Breathe.

Feel the bendable nature of time; knowing that every moment is precious; that you only have so much time on the planet; the feeling it accelerates as you get older; days that never end, years that whizz by. Appreciating both. Like rhythm and melody and harmony; one song ends, another begins.

A flop, a schlep and a lump

There were things to celebrate, and things to be sad about. There were fun songs and sad songs. Then after a mix of Moscow mules, Long Island Ice Teas, a single malt, some salty snacks, warehou and chips and a taxi ride home, it was a relatively early flop into the sack on Friday night.

That was followed by a reasonably early forty-minute schlep across town to pick up the van this morning. It was all pretty quiet, not much going on.

And then a day of domestic bliss before turning a bit of a lump – fire on, movies to watch.

Not a winning ticket

I’ve mentioned how I entered the RNZ Write an original Christmas song competition. The results are in – and my entry is out! Not a winner.

There was an amazing array of entries, all very different and most of them sounded really well recorded and produced.

Mine was one of 250 or so entered, so it least it was in good company. I might post the song a bit later.

And the winner is …

Listen to the winner being announced on RNZ

And the runners-up were…

Listen to other songs featured on air in the follow-up piece.

Something special; something finished

I write a bit – often in fits and starts. But today I finished something.

Radio New Zealand are running a competition to write a Christmas song. When I first heard about it I was on leave, driving down the east coast.

I got the first lines reasonably quickly, mulled the rest for a bit. Had enough for a couple of minutes. Spent a day or so recording it, then left it for a bit.

Then I did something unusual. I let people hear it. Played it to a colleague who loves Christmas and another couple of friends. People said good and constructive things.

I added some verses, re-arranged things; added instruments, even some quiet harmonies and twiddly bits. Ended up at 2:31. I mixed, listened on couple of sets of speakers. Found out my amp is only working on one channel.

And then, at 5pm, I sent it off. Time will tell what happens, but I’m happy to have it done. The hat is in the ring!

Begin the benign

benign, Adj, from the Old French benigne, who nicked it off the Latin beningus, it means kind, gentle and mild.

You can check it at wordnik

Perhaps it’s the early onset old-timers, perhaps it’s the desire for a new set of references, or a new routine. Perhaps it’s time to be kind with the future in mind.

Maybe it’s the gradual realisation that those twenty good summers I’ve got left might be more, or might be less.

Maybe I’m deciding to be deliberately different, obdurately original; maybe I just can’t decide. But I’ve always liked the idea that to be different, you have to actually be different.

As the population’s getting older and older, more of us are going to be working longer and longer, then a gap year seems like a good idea.

Doesn’t it?