Me and Elton vs Pnau

So I may well be stretching the notion of six degrees of separation, but with fellow Sydney Siders Pnau making a swell with their gorgeous reworkings of Elton John’s songs, I was reminded of the track Pete Mayes mixed from my 2008 album When you get down to it. He’s a lovely guy and he kept it pretty simple and understated, as the desk mix suggested it should be. He used one of those crazy Publison Infernal Machines on the vocal, and got an effortless breeziness to the Beach Boys tribute vocals at the end. I often forget I made this track, but the lyric has stayed with me:

A story that you told me, about how love could hold me when you get down, when you get down to it…

Anyway – you can see them talking with elton about the music here:

Elton and Pnau talk about making Elton vs Pnau

And you can see listen to Down to it here:

Down to it, from When you get down to it

So yeah, tenuous, but nice to be reminded of a lovely producer and nice to revisit a song… Enjoy

A fuzzy kind of salvation

There was a moment

as I raised the cup

I knew a resurrection

a new beginning

Transliteration

the salvation of forgetting

Did I open my eyes too wide?

Did I open my arms too wide?

Spread the news, hallelujah…

TJ Eckleberg – Gospel

It’s easy to forget broken things, to overlook what no longer serves its intended purpose. Gospel excavates a night of failures – a night I slowly came to realise I was in love with someone, or the idea of someone, but it was not what I wanted it to be, nor would it ever be. Salvation arrived in spite, or because of this…

A few weeks ago my friend and co-conspirator Delboy Wilson returned my GI FUZZ made (and repaired for free) by Michael Ibrahim and the good folk at MI AUDIO. It had broken during the Yo Grabo¡ sessions in Indonesia, and I thought it lost and gone. The GI FUZZ is an old school silicon fuzz with a few twists, a legacy of audio assault stemming from Hendrix. I’d forgotten how dangerously good it is – managing to sound both musical and as if I’ve dragged my guitar across the car park to hook it to the arcing electricity mains. For those of you unfamiliar with the glorious contrary and sullen GI Fuzz, you can hear it spitting it’s way through Gospel in the link below. It’s nice to know that some things come back.

The Silver Trail and the Irish pipes

On Saturday night The Silver Trail played at Die Tielnahmerie on The Wrangelstrasse in Kreuzberg. The Silver Trail is an open improvising duo – something I was taught by the kind folks at Free-for-all back in Sydney many years ago… We never quite know what we will play, approaching the instrument with fresh eyes, hands and ears each time.

Die Tielnahmerie is a new little co-operative that has sprung up in the past few months with a rich and eclectic music policy and diverse clientele to match. Joys of the evening included laughing while fellow guitar slinger Christopher Zitterbart struggled to find space for his Mesa Boogie Lonestar amp, AxeFX and pedal system; rushing from the other side of the room between sets to stop a drunk patron from ‘shredding’ on the guitars; and being distracted by a tuneless accompanist (in the next room, no less) playing along to everything on a blues harp in G.

But the beauty of the space is the surprise factor. An attentive audience, gorgeous friends, cheap drinks and a lovely set from an Irish folk band inspired Chris to invite Sasha, the pipe player, to join us. The video is sketchy, but I’m grateful to Ayumi Tanaka for capturing it after the battery on my camera ran out. It’s enough to give you the sense of something special unfolding in front of all of us. I’ve never met an Irish (or uilleann) pipe player, let alone shared the stage with one… Lovely.

You can find out more about The Silver Trail, and hear some of the studio sessions at http://www.facebook.com/TheSilverTrail

St Francis

St Francis

Kaieteur falls, Guyana

He tells me of the falling water
four times taller than Niagara
and clouds of black birds
black as amber
beyond a veiled world
a treasure
 
And I know not so much, 
but I know this
I wish for the kindness of St Francis
 
He tells me of the burning fire
a dragon tail of sleepless nights
a shaking off of clothes in fright
and shaking heads
so sure of wrong and right
they cannot set their worlds aside
 
And I know not so much, 
but I know this
I pray for the patience of St Francis
 
What others hide grace admits
What swings fast and wide grace admits
What won’t stay by your side grace admits
 
I’ve seen clouds above Oxford
turned into starlings
caught and falling in a flock
almost locked into velocity
seven neighbours veering magically
momentarily defying gravity
 
And I know not so much, 
but I know this
I wish for the laughter of Black Francis
 
And I know not so much, 
but I know this
I’m glad of the kindness of St Francis
 

waiting to begin

I sometimes get the feeling in the middle of disaster, or when life events are unfolding in a way that feels… unsympathetic? ….just maybe the change will bring something I need . ‘Waiting to begin’ started as a few lines scrawled in my red moleskine in January 2008 and reappeared during the Tokyo Snow Monkey sessions (with Skank and Deepchild) earlier this year. The guitar motif reminds me of something The Police would have done, but I was looking to take it into bluesier, more soul drenched territory. I reconfigured the chorus in Sydney – thinking about the classic blues tune ‘Sittin’ on top o’ the world’.

My friend Nathan before he died told me to never sell a blues album… He gets credit for the lines referencing John Lee Hooker’s ‘Stripped me naked’ from Mr Lucky.

I guess this responds to my own track ‘Giant’ from illumineon, featuring the line – “It’s only the end of the world you know”. Writing from Tokyo where all is strange and unrelated and full of new beginnings, it seemed a good time to post it. From apocalypse to resignation to readiness… and I feel fine, I feel fine…

First mix, rough draft. Enjoy.

mad crazy swell…

My friend Rick tells me anything can happen, and I often find he’s right… even though I’m prone to disagree. This Amazing sea came about when he ran into a beautiful girl I am mostly still in love with, on a boat on the harbour. He sent me periodic updates about the state of the storm, and many of the lyrics are ‘borrowed’ from his text messages.

I love that the sea reminds me, again and again, there are so many things beyond me. All I can do is hold on to the guard rail, breathe it in, sing my words into the storm, smile at the pretty girl on the deck, hope there are enough life jackets…

So anything can happen? Maybe… but it doesn’t scare me.

You can find the track here: