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.

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